By: Abina George
“You’re pretty for a Black girl”
I spent my childhood with these words chasing my every footstep. I would light up at the mention of my perceived beauty, but the excitement quickly vanished as the statement was completed. Pretty for a Black girl? What does that even mean?
How did being Black automatically become unattractive and when did European features translate to the pinnacle of beauty? Why is my skin tone deemed less desirable than paler skin? Why must I change my own God-given beauty to acclimate to what others wish me to look like, especially when these are the same people who would not support me even after I’ve changed my appearance?
I’ve been called beautiful, but my beauty must me made sense of under this criterion. The only solution people develop is that I’m beautiful because of my proximity to whiteness. I must be mixed with something else, most likely white people think. My supposed whiteness is the only way I cling to beauty in others eyes. As soon as summer claims my skin as its own and the sun blackens me with its harsh rays, my compliments disappear and instead, I’m just “dark.”
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but why are we not beholden as beautiful? The media overlooks Black ethnic beauty but those of other races that pay for our features are exalted. Don’t get me wrong. As a feminist, a woman should be able to change herself to her liking but mocking those who have desirable these features naturally is appalling.
My lips are too big, my breasts overflowing. My butt and thighs are too large and commanding. According to society and what media teaches us, my features are too much and everything about me must be slimmed. Guys refused to date me because I was “too fat” although my actual stature was very small. I simply did not fit the Hollywood definition of beautiful.
Fast forward to present day where lip injections and butt implants are a more common business. Many non-Black celebrities are esteemed for their “ethnic” features, while those born with them are still ignored. Kim Kardashian revels in compliments on her posterior and Iggy Azalea uses her implants to become a more physically attractive model while Jennifer Hudson, Mariah Carey, and even Beyoncé have received ridicule for their features.
Larger society may ignore us as colorism reigns supreme in the United States, but our beauty does not have to be acknowledged to flourish. My skin, light or dark, is beautiful as is my sisters’ skin. Prejudice does not negate my beauty and I shall thrive knowing that those who chose to have prejudice control their perceptions of beauty aren’t worth my time of day. Live life exhibiting your beauty unashamed and unbothered. You are a masterpiece.