As insulting or embarrassing as this question may sound, some people still think of blacks as ugly. Now, this perception exceeds just color alone, but everything about black people and all they represent.
Quite sad, isn’t?
So, the answer to this question depends largely on what one calls or sees as ‘beautiful’ or ‘ugly’. This is because our aesthetic judgment differs based on our experiences, environment, and personal prejudices. This is where the popular cliche which says that “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”, stands true.
So, a black man isn’t ugly because of his color or afro-textured hair. Calling a black man ugly may be a result of ignorance of the black race. The good news is that black people are now embracing their identity, and showing it off boldly.
On that note, this article reveals the black physical appearance and beauty standards.
The History of Black Beauty Standards
Black beauty pioneers promote the idea of black people loving and appreciating their bodies and color despite the pressure from the western world. From the beginning of the white man’s contact with the blacks until the inception of black beauty standards, most black people hated their skin and felt inferior by it.
To contradict racial perspectives of what’s beautiful and what’s not, the black beauty movement came to be in the 1960s. Black beauty standards are the black people’s way of freeing themselves from the western concept and definition of beauty. Black beauty standards made many black women appreciate their kinky hair texture by wearing it more confidently.
The Impact of Colonialism and Slavery
Before colonialism, the blacks appreciated and had pride in their color, culture, and traditions. You’d agree with me that no black man perceived himself as ugly. Since colonization, most blacks were convince that their culture was inferior to the slave masters’.
This cultural superiority also includes their beauty standards. So much so that, during the colonial period, light-skinned blacks were separated from dark-skinned blacks. The dark-skinned blacks were more disrespected and tortured than the light-skinned ones. In fact, skin color determined their distinct job descriptions.
Unfortunately, these colonists succeeded in ridding the blacks of their true identity as many resorted to bleaching creams for lighter skin. All in a bid to be accepted by the colonial elites.
Do you also know that most of these blacks were denied access to good schools and job opportunities just because of their color? So, you wouldn’t blame the blacks for almost giving away their identity.
Also Read: Why Do Black People Smell? A Myth or Truth!
The Influence of Eurocentric Beauty Standards
Eurocentric beauty standards have to do with the European perception and approval of what’s beautiful and what’s not. Eurocentric beauty standards approve of only tall, light-skinned, long, and silky hair as beautiful.
The eurocentric beauty standards condition the mind of people to see beauty from a particular perspective. So, anyone or group of people that look any different from what it approves is discriminated against and marginalized.
Eurocentrism has been around for so long that even the younger generation lives by them unconsciously. A lot of people have come to accept it too as it seems like perfection. But it subjects many to self-inferiority and insecurity.
The Rise of Black Beauty Movements
Beauty movements for the restoration of the lost glory of the black race date back to the 1960s. The most notable was the “black is beautiful ” movement that was pioneered by African Americans. This movement publicly extolled the black race as beautiful.
The “Black is Beautiful” movement was established and popularized by Kwame Brathwaite’s photography. Kwame Brathwaite in collaboration with his brother started the famous Naturally 62 fashion show where only black models walked the runway.
A major aim of this movement was to portray the beauty in black, thereby encouraging confidence and pride among the black race. This movement began the Afrocentric trend where many black people started to appreciate their color by wearing it more comfortably. Many other movements followed after Kwame’s “Black is Beautiful”.
The Science of Beauty
The science of beauty is simply what beauty means and all there is to it. The science of beauty is neither euro-centric nor Afrocentric, but individual perceptions.
Beauty, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the qualities of a person or a thing that gives pleasure to the senses. So, whatever appeals to your sight is beautiful.
Now, people perceive beauty differently. What appeals to one may irritate another. Through learning, association, and experience, you unconsciously develop your perception of what’s beautiful and what’s not. So, beauty isn’t rightly defined when it points to a particular idea or perception. For instance, black women find themselves attractive, until Eurocentrism.
1. The Role of Genetics and Evolution in Physical Appearance
Well, science reveals the different factors that influence and determines a person’s physical appearance via Biology. One such factor is genetics.
Genetics speaks of the composition of your genes and DNA. Genes are similar traits in your lineage that you inherit when you are born. This is why we all don’t look alike. Genetics is also why one is born black while the other is born black.
2. The Social and Cultural Factors That Shape Beauty Standards
The experiences and beliefs of a group of people encapsulate their social and cultural values. Some of these factors that shape beauty standards are religion, development, and social status.
So, you see that since Westerners are more advanced in technology and economic development, their beauty standards differ from Africans. The Same goes for other tribes. For instance, since Africans were mostly farmers and cattle readers, their ideal beauty standard is, ” the bigger, the better”.
Beauty Standards and Racial Bias
The media which is like a lens through which we all see the world contributes in a way to racial bias. Well, it is expected as the media is dominated by whites.
Movies and ads in one way or another mirror white supremacy over blacks. This is why it seems as if everyone looks down on blacks.
The Prevalence of Colorism Within the Black Community
Skin color discrimination is prevalent in every ethnic or tribal group. Unfortunately, this was promoted during the slave trade in Africa where light-skinned blacks get better job opportunities and preferences than dark-skinned.
Examining the Claim of Black Ugliness
Well, the popular Eurocentric claim that black is ugly lasted for as long as the blacks believed so too. But then, here’s the truth, the skin color of the blacks does not in any way affect their competence and productivity.
Neither is their skin color a result of uncleanliness as some other races think. Black people only differ in color from whites. They can think and are subject to certain lifestyles like the whites.
Also Read: Can Two White People Have a Black Baby?
You can see black people everywhere you go, and so you’ll agree with me that they are falsely labeled. How about celebrities such as Rihana, Beyonce, Jay Z, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Janet Jackson, Solange, etc? Aren’t they beautiful?
It’s Your Turn…
There’s nothing ugly about black people. The influence and imposition of Eurocentric beauty standards and racial discrimination affected the black race badly. In fact, many exploited different products that are harmful to their skin and hair just to be accepted.
Fortunately, the black race did not dwell on that lie for long as several movements led by blacks started promoting black culture. These movements are the reason why black culture still stands tall today.
Also Read: Is Braids Black Culture? What’s The fact?
Since our perception of beauty is different, it is not right extolling yourself above others. That’s unjust and degrading. It’s best to appreciate and respect people for who they are despite their differences.
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