At the close of the decade, dark-skinned black women received two main-stage representations with very different optics. On one hand we saw the release of “Queen and Slim” where Queen, portrayed by Jodie Turner-Smith represents, with some debate on the black woman vlogisphere, the tale-as-old-as-time image of the struggle black woman.
On the other hand we see the crowning of South African beauty, Zozibini Tunzi as Miss Universe, representing what I like to affectionately call “the new black woman”. Interestingly, both of these women look very similar. They are beautiful, slim, modelesque, with short natural hair and typical Bantu features. Even though they are similar in a physical way, they are two very different, almost opposite reciprocals of each other. And I think for better (Zozibini), or for worse (Queen) this is the trajectory of dark-skinned beauty promotion.
Prior to the crowning of Miss Universe, I was very upset by the representation of Queen as I felt that what her character represented is something that black women are past. Although many in the black women vlog spaces did not think what she represented was struggle love, I disagree. I am not saying that anytime a dark-skinned woman is in a movie she has the be a princess, or have everything go perfectly, but I don’t understand why every time we get romantic movies there is almost always some huge struggle.
Why can’t dark skinned women ever just have the normal love struggles like their mother in law not liking them, or struggling to balance her work life with family life? Or if there was a movie with a black couple and a dark-skinned wife in love and struggling with a white supremacists world, show that in more realistic and everyday ways. Like being followed in an expensive store, getting up-charged for a new car, or having the realtor show them houses way below their tax bracket. Why do dark-skinned women always have to bear the brunt of all of the pain in the black community, whilst simultaneously being the blame for that strife.
However, the crowning of Zozibini as Miss Universe affirmed to me that our image is changing and that we came a much longer way than I initially realized. Her crowning gives me hope for the future of our representation and lets me know that although dark-skinned women who think like I and the readers of this magazine are a minority, we are a strong, proud minority who are making changes and strides for ourselves.
For once we are seeing the real cause of trickle down representation and we are literally proving that if you’re loud enough, persistent and brave enough you can make a change. Zozibini is what happens when we decide to put us and our image first and I doubt it’ll be the end of it. I am also happy that we are finally getting a variety of roles and representations and that’s all we, or at least I have ever wanted. We deserve the same deal as other race women, in that we deserve to be portrayed as multifaceted, complex, emotional human beings who are more than the stereotypes ascribed to us.
Liv is a new blogger for DDS Magazine. She graduated University in 2018, with a degree in History & English Lit and in her free time is an avid creative writer, History & Fashion enthusiast, as well as a cat-mom to three kittens. When she is not creating, she works at a children's non-profit and enjoys spending her weekends doing Pilates, hiking, shopping and indulging in Sci-fi novels.