"Pretty For a Black Girl" - NCS Grad, Elizabeth

ncs 6/10/2017

A person’s level of attractiveness should have nothing to do with their skin colour.

When listing out the attributes you would like the important people in your life to have, it is in no way okay to have “white” listed in between “highly intelligent” and “good sense of humour”. Can you imagine believing anyone of significance to you, whether it be a friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc. could only be a specific skin tone? It is not only prejudice, as it perpetuates the stereotype that certain races are unattractive, it is also incredibly narrow-minded. The argument that it is “just a preference” allows for ignorant people to be content in their prejudice because they have found a way to convince themselves that their mind-set is in no way discriminative against an entire race of people.

I personally think it’s odd that black (and other ethnic females) girls are labelled as ‘undesirable’ by society and the media. However, features that are usually associated with black people (thick lips, curly hair etc.) are now deemed as beautiful by society in other races. Why is that?

Based on my perspective, I think that being a black girl in this day and age is very confusing and exhausting. My thick lips and wide set hips are apparently ‘repulsive’ on my body, but put those same features on a white girl or a racially ambiguous girl and suddenly it’s praised as #goals. The media never fails to glamourize images of celebrity personalities rushing to their local plastic surgeons so that they can pay to look just like a woman of colour. The obvious examples of this are the Kardashians. Big lips were stereotypically seen as an unattractive quality as they were mostly associated with women of colour. However, Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner both get lip injections and now everybody’s crazy about them, clearly evident in how much the Kylie Jenner lip challenge blew up a couple of years ago.

Surprisingly, society is still strangely picky about which black features should be considered as attractive. Based on what I see on TV, in movies and on the Internet, media says, “Big bums and thicker thighs? Let’s shame any girl who does not conform to these standards of beauty.” But “Big noses and kinky hair on the other hand? Let’s embed revulsion for these features so deeply into society that people with them feel extremely insecure.” I still feel self-conscious about wearing my natural hair out in public. It’s horrible that I am able to honestly say that I feel more comfortable with my hair either relaxed or hidden under a weave rather than in its natural state.

Acceptance of my skin colour should not be something I have to work towards; being black should not be this hard. It is not fair that my skin colour is a daily struggle for me. Despite all of this, I would never change it; I love myself too much to do that. It is so unfortunate there are black girls who take drastic measures in their attempts to conform to European beauty standards, when instead it should be society changing so these girls feel less excluded.

I used to want to bleach my skin so desperately; I would obsess over it constantly, even going to the extent of wearing a foundation that was way too light for me. Skin whitening treatments work by reducing the content of melanin in the skin. Melanin is the pigment that gives skin its colour and helps protect it from the sun. However, there are some dangers to skin bleaching. It can lead to serious skin and health conditions, such as skin thinning, uneven colour loss that can lead to a blotchy appearance, redness and intense irritation, dark grey spots and even skin cancer. Needless to say, it’s not worth it.

For young black girls in the midst of their journeys towards self-love, or who were able to reach that destination without any effort at all, you’re not “pretty for a black girl”, you’re pretty, period.