Thursday, December 13, 2007

Am I pretty, too?

Reading on Just Lisa how my fellow blogger was wrestling with whether to “go natural” with her hair got me thinking (again) how non-European features are rarely celebrated in our culture, which can make it difficult for women of color to embrace their true selves.

In at least three recent conversations with white friends, someone has remarked on the perfection and attractiveness of a newborn baby by exclaiming “She’s got blonde hair and blue eyes!” Flaxen hair and light eyes can be very beautiful, but there is something about the way the statement is made, as if these features alone always bestow beauty on a person. Sort of, “Of course the baby is beautiful, it has blonde hair and blue eyes.” I understand that these qualities are prized by mainstream Western society. But what of the baby that is as brown as a chocolate drop with a shock of soft, kinky hair and brown eyes? And what about the adult that baby becomes? Where is the praise for other types of beauty? I have never heard anyone—black or white—exclaim: “She’s beautiful. She has a mass of nappy hair and honey brown skin! She has big lips and intricate cornrows! She’s got a wide nose and deep brown eyes! She’s got smooth blue-black skin and a brilliant smile!

I’ve heard enough from other women of color—Asian, Hispanic, Native American—to know they often feel the same exclusion when attractiveness, especially female beauty is discussed.

I found these two videos on You Tube. I was drawn to them, because they display a reverence and appreciation for black beauty that is rare. I hope you enjoy them as I do.


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