It’s no secret that black women are in dire need of better representation, whether it comes from Hollywood, YouTube or a black media platform. It’s 2018 – so why is the Eurocentric standard of beauty still many people’s only idea of beauty? Here are some reasons why promoting and recognizing black beauty is important.
1. It Will Improve The Self-Esteem of Black Girls Worldwide
According to an article in the New York Times, the ever increasing “health gap between blacks and whites is due in part to low self-esteem among blacks who react adversely to the stresses of racism”. Family practitioner, Dr. John T. Chissell said, “We live in an intensely racist society that teaches us to hate ourselves, and some of us do.”
For women, it can be even worse.
In the 2013 essay, “The Beauty Ideal: The Effects of European Standards of Beauty on Black Women", Susan Bryant, wrote:
“Because black women, especially dark-skinned black women, deviate furthest from European beauty standards, they are more likely to experience self-hate, distorted body image, depression, and eating disorders. They are also likely to suffer feelings of inadequacy and report emotions of anger, pain, and confusion toward traits such as skin color and hair.”
The number of black women and black girls with low self-esteem should concern you, whoever you may be. It’s society’s duty to correct the injustices that many black and dark-skinned girls face growing up in this world.
2. Promotes Unique Beauty of Blackness and Cultivates Black Pride
Let’s face it, a large portion of our self-worth as women and girls, is determined by our physical looks. If you’re beautiful, you’ll receive numerous advantages and have an easier time finding work, finding love, making friends and discovering opportunities in life. If you don’t fit the standard of beauty, you’ll have a tougher time. Most women are either consciously or subconsciously aware of this fact and conduct ourselves in ways that cater to our best features or enhance our chances of succeeding in life. But what if the game is already rigged against you?
Well, that’s the case for black women.
From a young age, we’re literally taught that our phenotypes are inferior to women of other races—especially white women. We learn that our locks and curls and kinks pale in comparison to Becky’s limp, blond hair. The only black women we saw and continue to see represented in the media look more like Zendaya, Halle Berry and Amandla Stenberg, than Ryan Destiny, Gabrielle Union and Duckie Thot.
But here’s where promotion starts to change things. The more we see ourselves represented positively in the media, the more we will begin to appreciate and love ourselves. Self-love is not a monopoly; it’s hard to cultivate self-love when your external influences are constantly telling you how inferior you are. Instead, positive promotion will help us learn to love ourselves and encourage black women to take pride in our phenotypes.
3. Creates A Love For Natural Hair
“The detrimental effect of these European beauty standards on black women is a societal issue that is often unaddressed on a multisystem level. Black women today are subjected to incessant messages about European ideals of beauty through family, peers, partners, the media, and larger society.” – Susan Bryant, The Beauty Ideal: The Effects of European Standards of Beauty on Black Women
The effects of European standards of beauty on black women are never more evident than in the way we choose to wear our hair. Many black women opt out of caring for their natural hair and instead choose silky hair-textured wigs and weaves. There’s nothing wrong with wigs and weaves themselves. The problem lies in consistently wearing hair textures that look nothing like your natural hair texture, as it sends a message of insecurity and signals a lack of pride in your hair. Thankfully, with the rise of the natural hair movement, things are beginning to change. But, we’ve still got a long way to go to getting black women to a place where we can wear and fully love our natural hair without repercussions from society.
4. Changes The World’s View of Us
What if natural, kinky hair and black women were synonymous? As in, you could travel to the depths of India, Spain or the most remote place in the amazon and no one would bat an idea at your locs and ask you ignorant questions like, “have you tried combing it?” Improving the visibility of exceptional and everyday black women will normalize blackness and the unique looks of black women. It will encourage others to accept our uniqueness and see the value in it. To put it simply: the world will only value us when we value ourselves, so it’s time to start loving yourself.
"Grace is a freelance writer and blogger from Canada. Her work has been featured on HerCampus, 21Ninety, Read Unwritten. She is a voracious reader, a dog-lover and a self-professed pop culture junkie. Her other hobbies include watching sappy romantic comedies, consuming too many strawberry-filled doughnuts and people-watching. Grace currently attends university, where she is working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Pre-Law."