The Attack Against Black Girl Beauty

I rushed out and bought a bunch of beautiful dresses and frilly booties and flouncy hats the second I found out my Mari was a girl. No, seriously: my first and second stops after the sonogram were to Space Kiddets, a New York City boutique with an incredible collection of European children’s wear, and ABC Carpet & Home, where they used to have this absolutely glorious children’s boutique down in the basement full of pretty little things for pretty little girls. I swear, I literally skipped down the streets of lower Manhattan while I burned a hot hole in my purse buying clothes to fill my yet-to-be-born baby’s closet.

Her wardrobe was to-die-for a gorgeous collection for what I was confident was going to be a stunning little girl.

And like any mother who tucks her new baby girl into her first lovely dress, I looked at Mari’s face and stared into her eyes and pulled her chubby little cheeks to mine and marveled at how striking she was.

And every morning, still, I do the same with both my girls. Some days, they’ll just be talking to me about nothing in particular and I’ll look up and catch a glimpse of Lila’s big ol’ almond eyes and that Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate-colored skin of hers, or Mari’s perfect apple face and that ancient Egyptian nose, looking like it was carved to match the Sphinx, and it literally takes my breath away.

They are, simply, beautiful girls.

I tell them this often.

Not just because I believe it to the core, but because the world conspires to tell my babies different—to ingrain in their brains that something is wrong with their kinky hair and their juicy lips and their dark skin and their piercing brown eyes and their bubble butts and thick thighs and black girl goodness. I promise you, it feels like I’m guarding them from a tsunami of you’re ugly pronouncements; magazines and TV shows and popular radio and movies and all of the rest of pop culture insist on squeezing all of us women into a ridiculously Eurocentric, blonde-haired, light-eyed standard of beauty, but good God, unless you’re parenting a little black girl, you have absolutely no earthly idea how exhausting it is to be media whipped for not being a white girl. I mean, for all the cocky, I-love-me-exactly-the-way-I-am declarations we black women make, some days, I wonder why we are not hurling our collective bodies off the side of Mt. Kilimanjaro and just ending it all.

For sure, I was waving the white flag in surrender this week when I saw this madness shoot like wildfire across my favorite social media haunts: Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women. It’s an article written by a researcher who thought it important enough to figure out who’s prettiest, and printed by Psychology Today, a reputable scientific media outlet that found the researchers arguments worth posting. I refuse to mention the researcher’s name and I refuse to post links to the site; I’ll be damned if I send traffic to either one of them after that kind of dis. But, for the sake of showing you just how utterly ridiculous and disgusting the researcher’s study was, I will quote the most offensive piece of reasoning he used to deduce why black women are the ugliest of any other race of people on the planet:

The only thing I can think of that might potentially explain the lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women is testosterone.  Africans on average have higher levels of testosterone than other races, and testosterone, being an androgen (male hormone), affects the physical attractiveness of men and women differently.  Men with higher levels of testosterone have more masculine features and are therefore more physically attractive.  In contrast, women with higher levels of testosterone also have more masculine features and are therefore less physically attractive.  The race differences in the level of testosterone can therefore potentially explain why black women are less physically attractive than women of other races, while (net of intelligence) black men are more physically attractive than men of other races.

Translation: My babies, beautiful as they are, will grow up to look like ugly, manly she-girls who, having nowhere near what it takes to have a man find her attractive enough to forge any kind of meaningful relationship, will die alone in their studio apartments in the hood, trails of dried butter pecan Haagen Daz dribbling down the corners of their mouths, surrounded by a bunch of cats, with old Meet The Browns reruns blaring from their tiny TVs. Surely, at their funerals, there will be no men to speak of; their ugliness will be far too much to bear for any man to want to be bothered to attend.

No, the study didn’t go all the way there. But dammit, that’s how it read to me, a black woman raising two black daughters—like someone had lifted excerpts from a Klan pamphlet, slapped some scientific research on top of it, parked it on a reputable site, and masqueraded it as stone, cold fact.

To me, the study harkened back to the era of eugenics, when it was the order of the day to find some bogus scientific validation for the kind of biases passed on to people by their parents and their people when folk grasped for anything to try to justify their bigotry and hatred. I’m not naive enough to think we’re past bias in our global community; what we find attractive as African Americans, Africans, Asians, Indians, Europeans, Latinos or whoever is often very particular to that continent, that region, that country, that city, that block. Beauty is such an individual thing such a wonderful, particular, person-by-person thing that has nothing to do with scientific formulas or anything that anyone can measure. How ridiculously worthless is it, then, to try to reduce an entire race and gender to some kind of value in a graph? To say that a billion women in one race suck because they don’t look like the billion in another?

Ridiculous as I think it is, though, the kind of pronouncement made by the researcher in Psychology Today is just another in a long line of gut-checks that, in this already youth/thin/plastic surgery obsessed culture, pound away at black women’s self image. It wasn’t just the Rutgers Women’s Basketball Team that was hurt when Don Imus called the championship-winning team a bunch of nappy-headed hoes. And it seared like fire when John Mayer said he doesn’t date black women because his peen is a racist—a quote that made many of his black fans, myself included, feel like he absolutely hates, with an unyielding passion, black girls. Hell, we even get it from our own: Dumb ass Albert Hayensworth, an African American, Washington Redskins football player defended himself against sexual assault charges by saying he couldn’t and wouldn’t have groped the breast of an African American waitress because she’s “a little black girl who’s just upset I have a white girlfriend. I couldn’t tell you the last time I dated a black girl. I don’t even like black girls.”

Deep, deep sigh.

Look, I don’t need validation from Don Imus or John Mayer or dumb ass Al Hayensworth or anyone else. But I am trying desperately to save my little girls. From the magazine editors who refuse to put brown-skinned girls on their covers and in their pages. From the TV show producers who shovel shows on Disney and Nickelodeon without a care in the world that my brown babies go, literally, for hours without seeing one character who looks like them. From the music and movie industries, which, even when brown girls are involved, puts greater stock in light skin and long, flowing weaves. From the book industry, which seems like it’ll suck blood from a stone before it backs books featuring black children like it does books featuring white ones.

And I’m trying to save my girls from celebrities and singers and pro ballers and anyone else who has a microphone and especially researchers who will, by any means necessary, tell them that their brown skin and thick lips and pudgy noses and kinky hair make them ugly and manly and unattractive and undesireable.

But you know what? That’s a whole lot of fighting. A whole lot of guarding. A whole lot of explaining. A whole lot of counterbalancing.

And on days like these, I get tired, y’all.

And wish that we me and my beautiful black girls could just… be.

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.

54 Comments

  1. What idiocy. The devil stays busy. I take solace in knowing that there are many mothers, families, and other sources, such as MyBrownBaby, that know and say better.

  2. My black girls are beautiful, period, end of discussion.

  3. I have two beautiful brown-skinned boys and one beautiful brown-skinned girl. My husband and I let them know every day that everything about them is beautiful. As GB’s Mom said, “period, end of discussion.”

  4. I read a little bit of that Psychology Today article, and as a woman who has spent many many years reading psych articles and conducting psych studies, I just had so many questions, that I just dismissed it all as some crazy bunk. I didn’t finish it because everyone knows that attractiveness can never be measured. Just some psycho trying to make us feel bad for feeling too good about ourselves. Did you notice it said that in the article? That we think we look way better than (he thinks we look).

    Go’ on hold your head high ’cause yous a pretty woman…~MJB

  5. Denene, I, too, am a mother of a beautiful black girl. I can take all these ridiculous jabs at my beauty, which for whatever reason attracts so much external ire and internal envy from so many. But when I realized my daughter was growing to the age where she would be congnisant of all this, I got angry — I mean, the instinctual “mama bear” kind of angry. I swear fo’ God I’m going to paint Psalm 139:14 on my daughter’s wall and make her recite it every single day. It is truly open season on black women, but thankfully our ancestral mothers gave us the strength and wherewithal to withstand it.

  6. I’m a white mother to a 17 year old half-black/half-white knockout young lady and a 4 year old Haitian Princess. I’m fighting right with you. There isn’t one day that goes by that I don’t tell my girls how amazing and beautiful they are. There also isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wish that I could enjoy the brownness of their skin, the kinkyness of their hair, the thickness of their lips and so on, as my very own. There is nothing beautiful than my girls! And, yes they are black, the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. So much so, it makes me jealous. We need to be fighting for the lives of all our girls regardless of color or size. Let’s fight for the women they will become and may they be better than we ever could be! I pray that my dark chocolate girls know that God made them for a purpose and He, above all others, thinks they are crazy beautiful and completely precious. I’ll fight ’til I die for these girls, just try me! :) Thanks for writing this piece!

  7. Thank you my dear sister for the beauty that you have expressed in this blog. the beauty of black women is historic. Wars were fought to win the attention of African beauties yet we have allowed eurocentric thought and illiterate concepts to take us over. I am so very comfortable in my skin and grateful to God almighty for making me a black beauty. I give thanks for the two beautiful daughters that i bore who have grown into beautiful, thoughtful, intelligent black women. i would have it no other way. WAKE UP SISTERS. DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE! If we are so ugly, why are these euros injecting, botoxing and transfering the fat from other parts of their bodies to their lips and hips? tanning, browning and using African centered meditation to find their sanity? MILLIONS OF DOLLARS ARE MADE IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY BY COPYING OUR STYLE, SWAGGER, FLARE, ETC. YET WE ALLOW THIS SAME INDUSTRY TO DECIDE WHO IS BEAUTIFUL/ GIVE ME A BREAK PEOPLE. Black folks wake up. See the beauty within as well as the beauty on the outside. We have it all we just have to remember. ASHE!

  8. Hey My Brown Mama!
    I have four beautiful brown girls! I have way more kinky hair and attitude than I know what to do with:) I feel your frustration and every sting in your words. My girls attend a predominately white school since the schools in our neighborhood (literally one block away) is not adequate we chose to transfer our children to a school where they can receive the same opportunities, learning gains, and expectations as their white counterparts. My oldest (19) has become a vibrant, tell-it-like-it-is, spit ball of fire standing firm in her beauty because of all the questions she received when first attending her new school. Why is your hair like that? How do you get beads on your braids? Why is your skin so dark? Is weave in your hair? Yes, it was tough as parents but we endured and so did she. Since we’ve been the school almost 10 years now the climate has changed for the better. There are still some days when we they come home with “the stories” and didn’t get asked to the parties or, we aren’t invited to the friends house (since we aren’t in their neighborhood). Even in those times I wouldn’t change their learning experiences. At their school they’re different because of their hair and skin, in the huge dynamic of our extended families they’re different because they “talk white”. LOL…No, my friends, my girls are different because we has parents chose to raise them racially diverse. We chose to expose them to all the people, museums, beauty, culture, racism, love, comfort, food, homelessness, religion, scouting, books, music and anything else that will grow their minds as individuals. They are destined to be different! And I like that!

    In the meantime, in my small classroom where I rule, I am busy as a bee doing the same thing with my students. I’m teaching them to love each other for their own unique qualities and embracing my own. See us here at http://centersandcircletime.blogspot.com/2011/01/sharing-hair.html

    Thanks for the awesome and inspiring post!

  9. As the mother of a beautiful chocolate three year old babygirl and the Stepmom to a talk beautiful brownskinned girl of thirteen, this article set me off in ways you can’t imagine. I make it a point to have my girls look in the mirror every morning and see how beautiful they are.and tell themselves they are beautiful, because it seems that outside of our home and our family, no one ever will. Some would say that my husband and I are rasising our girls to be vain and superficial, but I want them to truly see the beauty they have, both inside and out. And as their mom if I have to tell them everyday that they are the most beautiful children God ever created, I will.

  10. This is absolutely absurd!!! I have two beautiful princesses, and one handsome prince; and I tell them daily just how beautiful they are. It is our job as parents to encourage our children to feel good on the inside. We must teach them to love the skin their in!!! The article in Psychology Today was not worthy to published ; but the question becomes what are we going to do to change this. We as a people must put power to the pen, and voice our disturbance, outrage to this article.

  11. well said my lady, well said! it’s funny how media is so negative towards brown skin. as a lighter skinned biracial woman i used to wish i was darker. i’ve always admired darker skinned folks. their natural beauty is unmistakable in my opinion! i read that ignorant article, it didn’t sound scientific at all!

  12. My wise grandmother often said: Fifty million Frenchman can’t be wrong.” You have women (Anglo, Asian, Hispanic, etc.) spending billions of dollars every year to “enhance” their fetaures–to look like me. There’s no article, Disney show, magazine spread, or vast right wing conspiracy that would be successful at convincing me or my gorgeous 13 year old daughter that we are not wonderfully beautiful in our God given natural form. Numbers (i.e. money spent by others to look like me) don’t lie. If you are willing to spend money that you don’t have (lip, butt and breast surgeries paid for by credit cards–or going on the www. to solicit donations for your breast augmentation surgery, or saving up for years and foregoing vacations and the like) and go into debt to look like me then yes, I am indeed, to quote Maya, a Phenomenal Woman.
    And as an aside, this may seem scornful or contemptuous but I am thinking that the author of that fallacious article is a man who is in love with a black man (and I don’t have a problem with that) and that black man is married to a black woman. Jealously and envy can make people do strange things–he reads like an upset middle school tweenager with a thought process, an axe to grind and a computer—sounds familiar, right? My $0.02!

  13. My God. This post just gave me chills and brings tears to my eyes.

    “But I am trying desperately to save my little girls. From the magazine editors who refuse to put brown-skinned girls on their covers and in their pages. From the TV show producers who shovel shows on Disney and Nickelodeon without a care in the world that my brown babies go, literally, for hours without seeing one character who looks like them. From the music and movie industries, which, even when brown girls are involved, puts greater stock in light skin and long, flowing weaves. From the book industry, which seems like itll suck blood from a stone before it backs books featuring black children like it does books featuring white ones.

    And Im trying to save my girls from celebrities and singers and pro ballers and anyone else who has a microphone and especially researchers who will, by any means necessary, tell them that their brown skin and thick lips and pudgy noses and kinky hair make them ugly and manly and unattractive and undesireable.

    But you know what? Thats a whole lot of fighting. A whole lot of guarding. A whole lot of explaining. A whole lot of counterbalancing.

    And on days like these, I get tired, yall.

    And wish that we—me and my beautiful black girls—could just… be.”

    YES!!!!! Thank God your little Black girls and other Black women have you to poignantly articulate how so many of us feel. Thank you for this post sis. A million times over.

  14. Great article! My daughter is 22. Every morning as she was growing up I told her she was beautiful and could achieve anything she wanted in this life. I in- grained this into her mind and she believes it. I also song “You are so beautiful to me,” everyday until she was about 5. Recently she made the ring tone on her phone sing the song so I’ll know it is her. I try to tell all little girls they are beautiful…I pray they believe it.

  15. ALL women and girls are beautiful. ALL of them. Kudos to you and your website; keep telling all the women and girls you know: Black, Brown, Hispanic Asian, White…ALL of them. As a father to two beautiful and strong young women, I applaud you.

  16. As a mom to a princess and a prince, I just try to love my children and help my daughter to love herself. My son is a toddler. She’s very aware of her beauty…what she has on the inside and on the outside.

    They are both georgeous children and they’ve been told that countless times. It’s nice. More than that they are wonderful children. They shine from the inside. They know at the level they can each understand that they are my life. I pray that I can put inside them a love for themselves and a steady confidence that they will be above the influence of the world’s opinion, especially when the source of the opinion has self-serving motives as this article does. It certainly doesn’t do anyone any good, just contributes to the long list of misconceptions that lead to things like eating disorders, cutting, and the like.

    You’re right. It’s a lot of fighting. I’ll just try to raise her to be above the influence of fools who don’t know what an incredible child she already is and won’t if they only choose to look at the surface. She has her father’s beautiful skin and my thick hair, but neither of those things make her the person who has kept me sane in the year since her dad died. What’s most beautiful about my beautiful little girls is her heart. The other day she said, “Mom, I bet daddy would be proud of us for how we have taken care of ourselves without him since he died. Don’t you think so?” I do and I’m so proud of her.

  17. Barbara Soloski Albin

    You know Denene I don’t know about being a brown girl growing up, being that I am white, but I do know that I grew up feeling ugly and basically still do. I had “funky” hair, when straight blond hair was the only hair to have. When I looked in the mirror I saw large lips, big nose and I wasn’t skinny enough. Well the weight was a myth, figured that out in my early ). Being a person who is in control I finally figured out that I wasn’t heavy, it was just the way I saw myself in the mirror and still do. I have never felt pretty one day in my life. So you can see that the movies, magazines, and celebrities can influence girls and women of all ethnic groups. Sad as the only thing I liked were my blue eyes! By the way, I am a perfectly normal weight and have been for over 30 years. I look at you and so many of the women on facebook and only see your beautiful faces, you are all so lovely, with kind hearts, and a beauty the shines from the inside. Maybe it has taken me to a certain age, 63, to really understand this. Please throw these nasty articles in the circular can where they belong.

  18. Barbara Soloski Albin

    You know Denene I don’t know about being a brown girl growing up, being that I am white, but I do know that I grew up feeling ugly and basically still do. I had “funky” hair, when straight blond hair was the only hair to have. When I looked in the mirror I saw large lips, big nose and I wasn’t skinny enough. Well the weight was a myth, figured that out in my early years when I managed to get mself down to 89 pounds and still felt I was heavy. This was before anyone new about anorexia. Being a person who is in control I finally figured out that I wasn’t heavy, it was just the way I saw myself in the mirror and still do. I have never felt pretty one day in my life. So you can see that the movies, magazines, and celebrities can influence girls and women of all ethnic groups. Sad as the only thing I liked were my blue eyes! By the way, I am a perfectly normal weight and have been for over 30 years. I look at you and so many of the women on facebook and only see your beautiful faces, you are all so lovely, with kind hearts, and a beauty the shines from the inside. Maybe it has taken me to a certain age, 63, to really understand this. Please throw these nasty articles in the circular can where they belong.

  19. I LOVE this article!

    I don’t know why but this reminds me of this BLACK sociology professor I know quite well who recently adopted a beautiful black baby girl. This baby has the most beautiful chocolatey smooth skin. Every time I saw the baby I would call her “chocolatey goodness”. She’s so cute and you just couldn’t help but think of lovely chocolate. Well, as a dark skinned black woman I would take being called “chocolatey goodness” as a compliment. Do you know this woman had the nerve to tell me that I was creating complexes for her daughter by calling her “chocolatey goodness”. Oh my day! Really?!

    Great read and I look forward to reading more of your work Denene! Thank you!

  20. Jacqueline Lewis

    It’s a little ironic that I’m writing a paper in my sociology class. Reading what this other brown ladies are writing encourages me. We must keep the faith. Our sons and daughters deserve it. I have two boys and I’m always telling them and reminding them of beautiful brown girls, beautiful black girls, and other colors also. But to never dislike who you are. As for the football player obviously he doesn’t think his mother is beautiful, nor his sisters, nor his aunties, nor his nieces, what a sorry shame. We cannot just sit back, because we are telling our little girls and little boys how beautiful they are, because so many other children don’t have anyone to tell them that. A Russian article I’m reading says it like this. “People’s needs are formed on the basis of stereotypes of behavioral activity that have come to be established in the unconscious. If no other models are offered, it is only natural that the ones that become firmly fixed are those shown on TV”, and my addition, internet and articles like this one. We have to fight for others who are not fortunate enough to have someone say to them you are beautiful everyday.

  21. Kia Morgan Smith

    Brilliant! Standing ovation! Nuf said!

  22. Ingrid Edwards

    Well said, our children need a voice and need to know they are Damn beautiful. When will this ignorance stop. You would think in this day and age things have changed but prejudice is nothing but a pig in lipstick.

  23. So when does production begin on the “My Brown Baby” magazine? I think that would be fabulous. I’d like to submit my children’s headshots to be on the cover. Hell, I will even send you a few articles to review in case you need a guest writer! Fantastic post.

  24. How boring would be the world, my world, if only white people lived on this planet! And how boring would be to draw only with white pencils – not even possible – when we have all those wonderful colours! I’m white, blond and have blue eyes, however i was also subject to abuse and bully at school many times. I remember times when some guys at school mocked at me for my deep-set eyes and my turned up nose and I hated myself because of that. Certain people somehow always find faults in anyone just to hide their own weaknesses. Your girls are beautiful and so are all women and girls!

  25. Here is something we can all do via online. I’m not holding my breath for an apology, but it would be nice. Thoughtful blog piece, yet again.

    http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/psychtoday

  26. Why is it open season on black women? I will tell you why. I am a white husband married to a wonderful and very beautiful black lady. I know everyday how lucky I am to have such a gem. She is a natural beauty with god given attributes that make a man stay high. Many media outlets and some very diseased minded individuals such as white media and some slave strapped black men seem to find scapegoating black women will chase away their white privilege and self hatred. It is really sad in this country for we should be better than (white privilege -which is a disease of the soul and character) and black disunity which is a disease of slave mentality. How can any man that is a upright man put his own woman down the women he is born of. You have no shame That speaks volumes of slave and white supremacy behavior. Not all of white society agrees with this depletion of humanity. We are first human beings. Why is it that a black women’s power of pride, endurance, resilience, and attitude so scary for the mass media outlets and black counterparts? This is why everything you hate in a black women you desire her lips, her back end, her walk, her physical prowess, her attitude which is strong and right on. Man up black men, wake up white racist society and act like human being that at the top gen poll not the bottom. Stop hating what you really envy and desire.

  27. I think all of our beautiful black girls are going to turn this world upside down one day. Thank you for this post. I think it is horrific that people are even paid to do research and write things like that. BUT, you know, it doesn’t surprise me one bit. Nothing does anymore. sad. I am so out of touch with the real world right now with three kiddos under the age of 5. I appreciate your posts more than you will ever know! :0)

  28. Beautiful, beautiful post! It really says it all.

  29. Unfortunately, a lot of us women have bought into this thinking and damn our black girls with seemingly innocuous comments like “her hair is nice,” when referring to someone with less than kinky hair. And the popular celebrity images don’t really reflect our spectrum of beauty.

  30. As a glow-in-the-dark, freckle-faced white girl, may I just say I’ve always been a little jealous of black women and their beauty? Especially your hair and curves!

    I know that probably doesn’t make you feel any better, or do any good at all, really. Still, I want to tell you that this post was incredibly eye-opening (see white girl status, lol) for me. It’s just not something I notice as much, because, you’re right – I’m not black. My eyes will be open from now on, though. That’s for sure.

    Thank you for your honesty, and for the insight I would not have had, except for this post.

  31. Wow. I am astounded that there is even research being done into why one group of women are “less/more attractive than another”. Why not do research on why certain men *think* that one group of women is more attractive than another. I am seriously lost for words. This is 2011!!!

    I am not an AA woman, I am white. I’m also from a country with little-to-no people of African descent. In a way, I think that has limited any biases I would have acquired if I grew up in the US. My personal opinion is that there are beautiful people in every race. I do think that the most beautiful women are black. But, at the end of the day, we can do nothing to change the fundamentals of our appearances. What we can change are our personal characteristics, attitudes and beliefs. Without doubt, the most beautiful people I meet are the ones who are lovely to be with, not just look at.

  32. When something is special, extraordinary and unique it is always attacked, vilified and discredited before it is accepted as an ideal. The black woman’s journey to the top of the heap has been long and laborious but we will arrive one day. For now we must accept our own beauty before anyone else ever will.

    the Super Sistah
    http://www.thesupersistah.com

  33. My heart bleeds for you. I understand exactly how you feel. I have two beautiful daughters and a beautiful granddaughter. We cannot stop fighting for them. I know you love your daughter and that you will never give-up. Our priority is to fill them up with who Jesus says we are “beautifully and wonderfully made”. So, when they hear STUPID…THEY KNOW IT’S A LIE FROM SATAN. Next we must organize nationally to protect our girls and even ourselves. Please visit Etnic on Purpose. My eldest daugher has developed a website to attempt to combat this fast moving plague.

  34. I have a beautiful chocolate drop. It is important on a daily basis to encourage and teach your children what their self worth is. My baby who will be 20 years old in a month knows who she is and that she is beautiful. She can and will have whoever she desire to be with in a relationship. She will accomplish what she wants to accomplish. She knows that I am proud of her every move, decision, and effort she puts forth in her life. No studies, thoughts of others or warped beliefs will stop her from being the most and best she can be. My chocolate drop is a desirable beautiful black young woman and the world is her oyster.

  35. The article you cite is the most bogus piece of drivel I have ever read. It goes under the category of “What in the heck was he thinking to write that stuff?” It is racist and ugly and hateful. Ugh!

    I do have another perspective on beauty for you all, though — a question really. My 11 year old gorgeous Haitian goddess is told every day all day (when we are in public) how gorgeous she is. It seems to be the number one thing people mention. They don’t mention how many books she reads (a ton), how well she plays violin, how strong or fast or responsible or capable she is.

    She recently started to be so consumed with her beauty, ignoring her other qualities, that I wondered if I should downplay her beauty and play up the other qualities. Does anyone else worry about this? WHere is the balance? And do you sometimes feel like your child’s beauty is commented upon so much because white people (of which I am one) see them as “exotic beauties” and are not willing to admit that they have other incredible gifts?

    Thanks.

    • I have boys – it happens to boys too. My oldest son is told how beautiful he is so often that I am finding that to be his primary focus. He actually asked me “on a scale of 1-10, how good looking do you think I am?” He is 12 years old, 6ft, 135 lbs and gorgeous – my answer to him was “I will not now or EVER answer that question, ask me how talented, smart, wonderful as a human being I think you are” He seriously wasn’t interested.

      Truth be told he is very intelligent, athletic, and an amazing big brother to the younger ones. He works hard to be responsible and obedient. He doesn’t give me any trouble and I am repeatedly told how well mannered and polite he and his brothers are. He honestly couldn’t care less about any of that.

      I have told relatives to stop commenting on his looks. I am trying positive reinforcement of his other attributes, I have recently required that he plan and prepare one meal – from scratch – for the family each week. We are giving him a lot of praise and love for that. I think that down playing their beauty won’t help as much as raising them up every chance we get for everything else that deserves praise.

  36. Denene,
    Thanks for sharing your passion on this extremely passionate subject. I have three black boys…and one goal, among many others, is to teach them respect for all women–most especially BLACK women who look like their mother and grandmothers.
    Appreciatively,
    Kysa Daniels

  37. I applaud your article, I really do because as a black woman I grew up being told I am second rate. Today I know I am beautiful and raise my children to believe in themselves.

    The biggest challenge for me is finding other black women in the media who celebrate their “kinky” hair, full lips and backsides. I blame, first and foremost, black women and black men who glorify long, straight relaxed hair as the quintessential image of black beauty. Why don’t black women, and black men start appreciating what’s authentic about our true appearances? Why would ANY human being dump harsh chemicals in their hair to transform it into something that is completely inconsistent with who they are? Is it worth it? No. But these are the images that our BLACK society is celebrating. It’s not just the racist white psychologist or John Meyer. It’s our very own!

  38. Ok, I live in Africa and I am a Nigerian, believe me, I am beautiful and I have gorgeously beautiful 2 daughters, to most places I have been in this world , people turn and look at us. I never believed otherwise, I am black and very beautiful and proud of my skin color

    Check my blog http://www.beautifulnaijamom.blogspot.com

  39. I am a caucasian male who happens to find black women more attractive than white women. And ill let you in on a secret, there are many, many white guys who feel the same way. When I watch a TV show or a movie featuring a black woman and a white woman, the black woman almost always blows the white woman off the screen. Example–I used to watch a CBS crime drama called Close to Home starring Kimberly Elise and a white actress playing ADAs. You couldn’t take your eyes off Kimberly Elise while the poor white actress would fade into the background! The black woman’s beauty stands out more! So don’t let the fact that the fashion industry is 50 years behind the times warp your perspective. Very few people I know-and I move in different social stratas-consider black females less attractive than white females. There’s just to much evidence to the contrary1

  40. “Lila’s big ol’ almond eyes and that Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate-colored skin of hers, or Mari’s perfect apple face and that ancient Egyptian nose, looking like it was carved to match the Sphinx, and it literally takes my breath away.” – Brought me to tears up here at my desk. What a completly pure and beautiful description of your girls’ beauty. It has taken me 38 years to completly truly and purely love my blackness. Thank you for saying that.

  41. I am a white mom of 4 beautiful children: 2 white (biological) and 2 we adopted from Rwanda. Even though we do everything we can to immerse my daughter in a diverse culture, the desire to “look like the majority” Is still so strong. But like you, we daily pour out genuine accolades over her beauty (so much so that one day she said, “mom, you wish you had brown skin like me, dont cha?”). We look for strong and beautiful black role models for her and take to heart every piece of advice given by other black moms. Thank you for posting this! A great reminder to me of continuing to be sensitive to what she experiences emotionally from the media, others, etc.

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