Pro-Black: Beauty Standards

Before you hit backspace, eyes rolled upward, try and muster through this post. It’s an important one. From time to time this blog will cover issues of race as it is a large component of identity, and a contentious talking point in contemporary politics. Today, I’d like to discuss black pride or being pro-black and what that means in terms of contemporary standards of beauty.

Growing up as an interracial (half white, half black) child in America can culminate in a myriad of differing identities. However, one thing that has remained a constant for many interracial youths (even more so black youth) is an ingrained sense of inferiority regarding blackness. I would contest that children of all colors have rooted insecurities growing up- from eye color, to hair length, or body type. For black children the insecurities come from a different place however. The pervasive notion that kinky hair textures, larger noses, and darker skin are somehow inferior has been a toxic remnant of black oppression, particularly in the last few decades. One of the most popular reflections of this epidemic comes in the form of multiple studies. This “Doll Test” (See here: Doll Test) asked black children to prescribe behavioral and appearance based characteristics to a white doll and black doll. Most of the children attributed positive traits to the white doll, while the negative traits were assigned to the black doll.

Of course, this is only one example of how black children see race, and what that means in terms of self-esteem. Growing up, many of the darker members of my family and friend group were the butt of jokes aimed at their “crispy” or “nasty” skin color. Even among each other; it was a constant competition to be the lightest black person. Wait, you might say, my friends have made fun of me for my pale skin and how easily I get a sunburn. That is a valid point, but while you may have those personal insecurities, anti-black insecurity is one that is systematically and consistently tied to our identity. Hip-Hop music and videos, film, modelling – even those created by black artists- have quite often excluded darker women on the basis of their skin color being considered ‘unattractive’.

So, what does this mean in terms of being pro-black? It means that we want to uplift black youth to view their black features as natural and beautiful rather than something to be ashamed of. In a country where the majority of people are white, products have a tendency to cater to that audience. There is nothing wrong with embracing white beauty, but the same need be said for black beauty (as well as other ethnic groups and races). Black people should feel confident in their skin, and should know that they don’t have to have the complexion of Beyoncé or Chris Brown to be accepted.

With that said, pro-blackness cannot be anchored to other identities. We can all agree that people are beautiful and amazing across races, cultures and identities. However, we must recognize that black people needn’t be an “in addition to”. We can acknowledge black beauty and black culture without a caveat- whilst still appreciating the beauty of other cultures and people globally.

There will definitely be more article posts regarding pro-blackness, and what that means in varying facets of society. Stay tuned.

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