I hope this post finds all my family, friends and followers (and those who did a random internet search and landed here by mistake) chilling this summer and enjoying some long overdue fun in the sun with your loved ones. I know it’s been a minute since my last post, but alas, your girl is back in effect. I’ve recently come back from a much needed vacation myself and had the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful state of Florida this year with my family. Anytime you spend a lot of time in the sun or on the beach, it’s natural for us ladies to develop a heightened sense of self-consciousness which seemed to confirm the need for this post. Unless you’re gunning for a heat stroke, summer months require that more of our body be exposed and as is typical of many Black women, I’m working with more than my fair share of T & A. I found myself concerned with stuff like whether all my Mother Africa hips would fit on the Harry Potter ride at Universal or if I dare go without a sports bra under my swimsuit and risk scarring small children on the beach with each big wave.
For Black women in particular, fun in the sun is not as straight-forward as it is for other women. For us, spending time near the water not only means our bodacious figures are on display for admiration (and sometimes critique), but we must also contend with our hair. (See: Because I’m Nappy!) Most Black women can’t just take a quick dip and let our hair air dry into perfect sun-kissed ringlets. No ma’am, we must stand toe-to-toe with disobedient kinks that generally tend to rebel in the face of water threats. And even tanning takes on new meaning for the woman of color. Personally, I love the richer color that extra time in the sun affords, but I sadly know many Black women who shy away from the sun and verbalize their fear of “getting too black” during the summer months. Though summer should be a time to relax and enjoy our natural world, it is also a reminder that there are indeed different standards of beauty that can make the pool, waterparks, and the beach intimidating places for those of us whose looks defy convention.
The inconvenient truth is that we as Black women are quick to proclaim that “Our Black is Beautiful” and “Black Girls Rock” because frankly, someone’s got to do it! Society’s beauty standards do not applaud broad noses, wide hips, kinky hair, blackberry skin, big lips, thick thighs, and cornrows unless of course they’re on the Kardashians. Even Beyonce’ proclaiming that she loves her “baby hair and afros” is sort of lost under the mountain of blonde extensions she opted to rock in her most pro-Black music video ever. Keeping it gully, as far as the media goes, Blackish seems to be a lot more palatable than straight up Black. Being “too Black” is generally a recipe for rejection as evidenced by the Leslie Jones Twitter travesty. If you want to be considered a beautiful Black woman by mainstream standards then you better have AT LEAST one of the following though a combination of two or more is expected if you want folks to put some RESPECK on it:
5) Slender Physique with a Small Waist (but of course the big butt and boobs can stay)
Without these features, many sisters may be overlooked or outright rejected by family, childhood peers, and of course men who might even be clueless enough to admit their ignorance. I’m thinking of rappers like A$AP Rocky who apparently doesn’t think dark-skinned women need to wear red lipstick or Consequence who says “light skin is the right skin.” Lil Wayne once said that when it comes to beautiful Black women, “I bet that b***h look better red ” and Young Berg apparently “don’t like dark butts.” Kevin Hart has joked that “light skinned women usually have better credit than these ‘broke ass dark hoes'” ( a myth that as a lighter-skinned woman, I can single-handedly debunk). Will Smith was checking for the “honey with the light eyes” in his hit ‘Summertime’ and everybody (except the Black woman) was stunned when MSNBC’s Don Imus felt it appropriate to refer to the Rutgers University women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hoes.” With so much hate for Black womens’ beauty, what are us nappy heads to do? Well, you could take a page from rapper Little Kim’s playbook and make the necessary adjustments to ensure that you won’t be resigned to life as a broke down “dark butt” for long.
Become the Honey with the Light Eyes – Who doesn’t appreciate a good colored contact lens especially when just for a moment people might suspect that instead of Indian, you must have some Swedish in your family. Yes, it’s strange, but you won’t look any creepier than Wesley Snipes in Blade: Trinity or Eddie Murphy in Vampire in Brooklyn. Oh wait, they both played the undead. Never mind, moving on…
When it Comes to Facial Features, Slice it Up… I mean, Spice it Up! – What better way to deal with those ‘Jackson Five nostrils’ than to let a plastic surgeon practice his Hibachi skills on your face. Why let a little Elephant Man swelling, blood, bruising, bandages, infection risk and a potential pain pill addiction stop you from achieving perfection. Check out how well it’s worked so far for the Queen Bee. (sips tea)
Lighten Up – You don’t have to luck up and contract a “rare skin condition” like Michael Jackson to be the “redbone” on someone’s team. There are plenty of skin bleaching creams that, just like a good bottle of Clorox, will scrub those stubborn Melanin stains right out.
Get Bodied- Do whatever it takes (lyposuction, lifts, augmentation, implants, the grapefruit cleanse, veganism) just make sure that when all is said and done, the only Black womanhood left on your body is in your bra and panties. Since it’s the man-hungry, twerk-obsessed Black women we’re talking about, what else matters anyway right?
Listen, Lil Kim and too many other Black women have lost sight of all that makes us such spectacular demonstrations of beauty. We’re so busy trying to become “Becky with the good hair” that we’re literally erasing the little Black girl within by convincing ourselves that our crown full of strong, versatile, and dynamic locks is a nuisance. We resent the attention that chocolate skin attracts when it shines unrepentantly on a summer day. We apologize for our commanding presence, girth and stature that are likely remnants of a royal heritage. While we’re making plastic surgeons, beauty supply shops, weave technicians, nail salons, and estheticians rich, others are paying good money to tan, pump their lips with collagen, and enlarge their butts in an effort to emulate the beauty we reject. Some of us have all but decided that standing in the fullness of our natural beauty is not worth the hassle and insecurity. When we don’t practice self acceptance and allow ourselves to be brainwashed by society’s beauty standards, we forget that the essence of Black womanhood is indeed beautiful and to be admired, respected and preserved. Women who vandalize themselves to achieve society’s stamp of approval commit a spiritual atrocity against themselves, their ancestors and our daughters. By eradicating all that’s organic to Black womanhood, we write our beauty off as irrelevant and out-of-style. If Lil’ Kim is any indication, not only is Black beauty disposable but essentially, White is the New Black and personally, I don’t want to watch that show. Without self-love, it’ll never be a hit anyway.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”