Live Your Most Beautiful Life
Americans are experiencing an interesting "paradigm shift" when it comes to mentally digesting black beauty on a daily basis. For a long time, people simply have not known how to mentally process it. It used to be relegated to the outskirts of mainstream beauty, where you would have to search pretty hard to find any positive or sexy representations of black female beauty in any type of mainstream media. Today, Americans are increasingly exposed to black beauty with some of today's top beauty icons inundating their televisions, radios, magazines, and websites are black (just to name a few, Beyonce, Taraji Henson, Tyra Banks, Zoe Saldana, Gabrielle Union, Halle Berry and Paula Patton). You also have more and more non-black women craving the very features that many people consider to be "stereotypically black features," like curvier or "thicker" figures and more luscious-looking lips (in addition to the increased obsession with achieving warmer skin tones through new, creative ways to tan their skin).
That said, black women have come under an intense attack on their beauty, ranging from a deranged London School of Economics professor claiming to have scientific proof (with poorly conducted research) that black women are "not as attractive" as women in other races, and a media hurricane of reports about the "terrible" marriage rates among black women, compared to women of other groups (as if to suggest very little desirability of black women as a group). I don't buy the hype. I have travelled around the globe, and constantly hear people say, "Black women are so beautiful," and men of different races (both in America and abroad) have asked me out on dates. So what's the big deal in America? Considering America's continued struggle with race and racism (which is understandable, considering slavery did not end that long ago and politicians today are constantly trying to reinstate pre-Civil Rights era policies and institutions), many Americans simply don't know how to mentally digest a black woman's beauty.
There is a popular American saying that "black don't crack." If you've never heard of the saying, you either live under a rock, or you don't have any black friends. Either way, it is a popular saying that represents a widely-held opinion of many that black people appear to age slowly and they simply don't show their age. I personally take the saying as a compliment, but a white friend of mine clearly didn't when I told her about it. When I mentioned the saying in passing, she said, "What?! What does that mean? I've never heard of that." When I told her what it meant, she immediately huffed, "Well, that's not fair at all." The conversation ended with her pouting, and me quite puzzled. (A friend of mine even heard an older Asian woman explain to him, "I know people say that Asian women age well, but I am jealous of how well Black women age! I can never tell how old they are!")
When I think deeper about it, however, I shouldn't be all that puzzled. Non-black women invest hundreds of millions of dollars into the anti-aging beauty product industry, starting from their early 20s onward. (The latest anti-aging product hype inundating your television set is Cindy Crawford's "Meaningful Beauty," where she claims that a "special ageless melon-infused" product kept her looking 28 forever.) I know several non-black women who started having conversations about the best anti-aging eye cream to start buying in their early twenties, while I remained clueless about that segment of the beauty product market. I don't know any woman in my family (either immediate or extended) that ever used an anti-aging product. Through taking care of themselves and their skin, they continue to maintain timeless beauty, and they do not need to thank Cindy Crawford's "ageless melon" for it.
Quick side note: You may think I am being uniquely harsh on this topic, but I am not. In fact, I am one of several black women writing on this topic. I encourage you to check out Madame Noire's article, "Why Are Black Women Attacked? Simple: Black Don't Crack", where the author, "Ramona X," opines that black women get attacked so much in the media because non-blacks are jealous of the fact that black women don't appear to age. Ramona X specifically states the following:
"I’m not going to go on a whole long Isis-Papers –inspired soliloquy on why black people are so hated and so loved at the same time, but let me just share with you what the primary, subconscious reason is for all this hate: Black don’t crack. That’s right, the fact that black women do not age as rapidly or get attacked by wrinkles at a relatively young age is a source of jealousy of our melanin-challenged counterparts. And as we all know, jealousy breeds contempt."
As an example, she states the following:
"Black women certainly don’t remember to be grateful for the fact they’ll look good for many years past their 21st birthday and their 40th for that matter, but many on the outside are resentful of it. I don’t blame ‘em. When I gaze at white celebrities like Rachel Zoe sometimes, who at 38, looks ten years older than 45-year-old Halle Berry and 44-year-old Kimberly Elise, it makes me grateful. When I’m 45, I’ll probably look as youthful in the face as Berry, who although looks good for her age, is not an anomaly in the Black community."
Is she right? Well, I encourage you to read the whole article to decide for yourself. However, I will say that black women don't automatically age really well. While they do seem to have a genetic predisposition to age slowly because of their melanin-endowed skins, they also must take care of their health (e.g., eat well, exercise, and don't smoke) to ensure that the genetic trait kicks in.
"How to Mentally Digest a Black Woman's Beauty"
Simply embrace her beauty: You don't have to stare at a black woman and justify what feature on her face makes her pretty. So many black women are asked, "Are you mixed?", immediately after someone compliments their beauty. Don't assume that a black woman must be mixed with some non-black gene in order to be beautiful. Just embrace the fact that she is simply beautiful, no analysis attached.
Take her beauty out of some silly "beauty hierarchy": Some people assume that a "beauty hierarchy" exists, where a black woman's beauty is supposed to swim somewhere around the bottom of the totem pole. I wish you good luck with that kind of thinking (sarcasm intended). I personally know enough guys (black and non-black) who will gladly tell you that they don't see "race" when they see beauty. If a woman is "fine," his instincts will kick in and give her a once-over (either blatantly or his eyes will follow her).
Don't hate: Whether people on hate on black women because they are just jealous of their beauty, or they just hate because they can, I encourage you to walk in love, and not in anger, jealously, or pure hatred. Black women are not only beautiful, but they are intelligent, diverse, talented, creative, strong, and powerful. What's not to love?
-Written by: A Cafe Belle Guest Blogger