I’ll never forget the day someone said to me: “You’re so pretty for a black girl.”
I was so confused, I didn’t understand if I should be flattered or not.
I hesitantly took it as a compliment and bashfully said thank you.
What exactly was I saying thank you for, because technically this person called me and my whole race ugly?
Here we are, three years later, and I’m still thinking about it.
Those words stuck with me for a long time . . . “pretty for a black girl”.
In the person’s defence, it’s not completely their fault.
We are bombarded by all these eurocentric beauty standards all day, every single day, so the person probably thought they were giving me a big compliment, which was not the case!
Patriarchal, eurocentric standards capitalise on beauty, and its perceived relationship to value.
Standards of attraction are created, centering on the cis-het, white, abled, upper-class conforming body.
Hatred and anxiety are bred against those who cannot conform.
This concept is rooted in racism (obviously) and ableism.
This is what Maya Gittlemen wrote about in her article, titled ‘7 Ways to Resist Eurocentric Beauty Standards (and move towards radical self-love)’ – a mouthful, but the good sis did not lie at all.
Hear me out, I’m not saying that wanting to look picture perfect is a bad thing.
By all means, go off boo sweedat.
As long as it comes from a place of confidence and not conformity, I’m okay with it.
Image search the words “beautiful women” on Google, and the first few pages would be images of skinny, white women, with long, straight hair.
You might see Miss Lupita here and there, but other than that, it’s very uniform.
I kid you not, you can go check for yourself and let me know how much scrolling it takes until you see someone that looks like me.
I feel like this is hazardous, because it enforces the idea that anything other than what you’re seeing right now on that search engine is not beautiful – not exactly, but you get what I mean.
As a black woman living in the 21st century (are we still in the 21st century?) I love the fact that I’m seeing a lot more black girlies embracing their natural hair, rocking braids, laying on their brightly coloured wigs, face beats!
I’m here for it all!
Personally, I could go on all day about beauty standards and how unrealistic they are, as well as the health risks involved with chasing the ‘it look’, but that’s a whole different blog post of its own.
I strongly believe that representation is very important.
Especially in extremely influential spaces such as social media and the entertainment industry.
I’m most definitely yet to watch an award-winning film or series with a girl that looks like me as the lead.
To all my women of colour out there, you’re doing amazing, sweetie!