The Women of Color and Beauty Carnival Is Up!
By lainad on August 14, 2008
BlogHer Original Post
It’s been about a year since I posted on one of the numerous blog carnivals taking place in the blogosphere, as it seems like they have lost their popularity with all of the election coverage and other news that has been grabbing our attention. Either that or I am simply not paying too much attention..... However, this is a great time for this Carnival. Here’s a brief description:
This Carnival is intended to focus on beauty and what it means to and about women of color. In particular, I would like to see discussion go beyond a focus on the ways in which women of color can internalize self hatred to the ways in which women and communities of color recognize and celebrate beauty.
There have been many recent discussions about beauty standards and how they affect women of color. Recently I wrote on my blog about a comment on a message board that had bothered me. It probably wasn’t meant to have the impact it had, but it did. It made me think about how black women are still, in this day an age, still regarded as less-than…well…women with Eurocentric physical attributes.
White women North American society, Europe, Africa, India……….Well, damn, all over the world (and I’m bracing myself for attacks) are generally regarded as the epitome of beauty. A non-white woman’s attractiveness is measured against whether she has any of the characteristics that biologically, white women have: Skin color, physical attributes (nose, lips, hips, weight) hair texture and in some cases, hair color (blond is a preference).
Many young girls, most often teenagers of color feel that if they do not have one or more of the desired traits, than not only are they unattractive, but others will find them unattractive. While many of us are rational adults and generally perceive that this is bullshit, it still is disturbing when that hidden fear is brought out into the open by some asshat (new favorite word) whose ignorance validates that little voice inside of you that is always question how attractive you are to the outside world, who resents being judged by standards that are unrealistic and simply just not that relevant as to deciphering the value of someone’s worth. But unfortunately it is relevant in terms of media images and accessing opportunities – professional, personal and / or educational.
Recently there was hubalboo on the web about pictures of Beyonce on a L’Oreal ad where her skin had been lightened and her nose had been thinned. Interracial relationships and the exoticfication of women of color within these relationships cause a great deal of consternation.
Within the posts for this Carnival, there is a lot of pain. Pain because though the issues, which because of the Carnival do correlate in some way, many of them tie back to the feelings that come out of how women of color feel about societially imposed beauty standards and how they affect us. And pain because at least for me, a number of the issues really resonate with my own internal struggles for self-acceptance. Black Amazon, one of my favorite bloggers, writes about finding validation outside of aesthetics:
You see when we talk about pretty , I'm not sure we're talking about the same thing, not to mention to cling to pretty even in CHALLENGING the concept ( I WILL REJECT ALL THINGS THAT I SEE AS PRETTY CAUSE EVERYTHING MEANS THE SAME TO EVERYONE) makes me nauseous.
You see in my life as WOC, pretty has had fuck all to do with attractiveness, vibrancy, or sexuality, it has had everything with a validation.
A validation that includes protection, ownership, and often the use of these things to pit women against each other, sometimes by patriarchal interests, OFTEN by racist thematic, and sometimes love itself.
Personally, I am beautiful. It is strange to say because dear god it sounds conceited and I am trying my dandiest not to post any pictures, but even in the glaringly Eurocentric run studies about symmetry and youthfulness and clearness of skin and bountifulness of hair ETc.ETC.
I am doing okay.
I am not however in any way European featured, not in the slightest not by a long shot. My look comes with the music of steel pans and African drums some sitars and strings with a light note of pipes. My walk is all drums all the time.
I am always black.
Fatshionista writes about being ‘fat’ and a woman of color:
My experience of being a fat black woman has not been a fat acceptance wonderland. I don’t feel like I have been shamed for my body, but I have felt pressure to have a more socially acceptable body size. I do worry about presenting myself well. Because of the history and attitudes in my community, I feel a responsibility to act in a manner that adheres to a strict code of conduct. Part of the code is hiding its existence from mainstream white culture. I struggle with those pressures when I don’t feel like pulling myself together, when I want to toss a scarf over my messy hair and grab some milk at the store, when I want to snarl at someone rather than do racism 101 for the umpteenth time. Being told by white women that I have it easy when it comes body image dismisses all of the complexities and difficulties of my identity and reduces them to “Cosmo says you’re fat. Well I ain’t down with that!” Making assumptions about someone’s identity and culture based on fragments of pop culture is dehumanizing. An important part of understanding the world beyond yourself, not just asking questions but also listening closely to people who have criticisms of your beliefs. Sometimes what you think is fact is based upon false premises. Black women do not live in a fat acceptance utopia and you’re making racist assumptions if you assume they do.
While doing a quick Google search I cam across some other posts that correlated with the Carnival:
Sara, who blogs at With a Curl in the Middle of My Forehead also chimed in with a script she wrote.
Digital Femme posts other pictures of African-American women whose images have been lightened.
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