I have written and deleted this post several times. Confronting beauty as a black woman is a difficult thing to do. As much as I hate to admit it, beauty is a source of power for women and to be deemed unattractive makes one feel unfeminine and less than. It is definitely a truth that true beauty comes from within, but our first reaction to someone is their appearance and it is only in time that we get to know who they are as a person. When we judge based in physical appearance alone we close ourselves off to many wonderful people.
Very little in society affirms black as beautiful. As young girls growing up this lack of representation can be damaging. Where ever we look we are told that beautiful womanhood is white, with long flowing hair, and thus learning to love and accept yourself can be a Herculean task. At times it feels easier to give in and internalize the negativity, but this is ultimately self destructive. So we swallow the pain and hold our head up against the wind trying to define and create a standard of beauty that is not Eurocentric, a beauty that makes room for our darker complexions, curly hair (I won't use the word nappy), and fuller lips and hips.
Some women never reach the point where they can tune out the negativity associated with blackness. Some women wear permanent scars from attempting to become something they can never be - white. In Uganda skin bleaching is all the rage. Women slather themselves with creams that they believe will lighten their skin, but it ultimately leaves them horribly disfigured. According the WIP, "Consumers of bleaching cosmetics claim that they want to enhance their beauty. One woman who declined to be named, explains, “One has to look good, by having fair, lighter skin.”
What does looking good mean in a world where white equals beautiful and purity? It means that black women become the eternal other. Authenticating blackness as beautiful becomes something that whites do to prove how enlightened and advanced they are. Whether it is the attention that is paid to Blacks during black history month, or the recent issue of an all black Italian Vogue, such temporary and fleeting representation only goes to remind us of exactly how disposable our bodies are. Yes, here is one magazine out of the thousands that are printed world wide, dedicated to the idea that black women can be beautiful too, why aren't we satisfied?
That is exactly the problem with this issue, black women can be beautiful too instead of black women are beautiful. The black women can be beautiful too comes with hueism which eliminates darker skinned women. How many times are light skinned stars held up as an example of inclusiveness, and beauty, completely ignoring the fact that blackness comes in various shades. This diversity of colour exists today from the legacy of the rape of our foremothers, and yet this is what we are to understand as beautiful? It is time for a revolution, it is time for the field slave to mount the steps of glory and find herself not only only welcome but desired. No longer should we pose the question ain't I a woman, instead we need to demand that we are recognized as women.