Quoted: Adios Barbie On Stereotypes And Body Image

Supporters of the “Black is Beautiful” campaign and several others similar to sought to redefine beauty in ways that both included and uplifted black women from what Princeton professor Imani Perry describes as the “generally degrading and unattractive, or hypersexual and less feminine” images of black women in society. The message was clear: as Bill Cosby famously put it, “It isn’t a matter of black is beautiful as much as it is white is not all that’s beautiful.” Could it be that black women ignore the dominant images of beauty and instead dance to their own tune, or have we simply flipped the coin and replaced one set of controlling images with another?

Being skinny was never a crime. Yet somewhere along the way, African American pop culture took over and a binary standard of beauty once more became dominant among black women. In a classic two-steps-forward-one-step-back scenario, the Washington Post announced what watching any rap music video will tell you: skinny is out, “thick is in,” and having some extra meat on your bones is a virtue (cue the parade of “fiercely real” women with curves, because “real” women obviously come with curves.)

One self-proclaimed “real” woman is the British TV and radio presenter Mica Paris, who, with her less-than-real hair, claims that black women are happier with their appearance. Paris wrote in the UK’s Daily Mail in 2012: “I don’t know any black women who aspire to be skeletal, and even if we did, nature decrees that we shouldn’t be. We’re made with breasts, bottoms and well-developed quads.” It doesn’t take a genius to know that aligning black women to the supposed naturalness of a fuller figure is not only incorrect but also horribly subjective.

– From “Binary Thinking About Body Image Hurts Us All,” by Vinjeru Mkandawire

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  • http://www.facebook.com/nyya.white Nyya White

    “I don’t know any black women who aspire to be skeletal”

    Yeah where has she been these past 10-11 years? Or maybe it’s different over there in the UK. I see black women all the time complaining about too much here and there, even the ideal “thick” Melyssa Ford (google for those who don’t know) body have been saying how they wished they looked like this celebrity or that celebrity and how they’d loved to shrink this and that. Black women obsess over thinnes and thin bodies just as white women do. Google NOVA eating disorders and minorities. I agree thinner black women as well, they shouldn’t be made to feel less but they are also influenced by the pedestal placing of curvier big butt women, that’s why there have been the exposure of butt/hip injections amongst our community. I don’t like the false media projection of black women or most black women as people have been trying to display, being comfortable with their bodies which we all ARE NOT. Then you have the I’ve been bulimic since HS I used to obsess over gaining weight hard when I was a teenager. Body image is a global thing, NOT A WHITE THING even in middle eastern countries.

  • Nyota

    The tyranny of thickness can be just as limiting as that of skinniness. Myself and most of my friends are not video girl curvy. We come in all shapes and sizes and should not be made to feel less than because of our body type.

  • Nyota

    The tyranny of thickness can be just as limiting as that of skinniness. Myself and most of my friends are not video girl curvy. We come in all shapes and sizes and should not be made to feel less than because of our body type.

  • Nyota

    The tyranny of thickness can be just as limiting as that of skinniness. Myself and most of my friends are not video girl curvy. We come in all shapes and sizes and should not be made to feel less than because of our body type.