This whole picture sums up the topic of the whole post.
I am not a prescriber or reader of Allure magazine however news of an article in Allure magazine talks about how a woman(assumedly White) can achieve and wear an Afro out spread across social media. Many African American women were outraged and upset about this because Afros have been deemed unkempt and unruly for decades when it was wore on them but suddenly deemed as beautiful and stylish for White women to wear. And I also felt this same way, having seen and experienced this double standard, myself. Thus the double standards that let White and non Black women appropriate Black women’s hair styles, fashion and features without having to go through the disadvantages of being a Black woman in a White patriarchal and racist society while Black women who have these features naturally are erased and put down in society will be discussed.
America and the Western world profited from the exploitation of Black culture such as Jazz, Blues, Rock and Roll and now Hip Hop. These genres of music went from being predominately African American to being predominately White once the genre became more mainstream and widespread across the country. All the while, record producers profited and made more money from so called ”cross over” White artists as opposed to Black artists because the majority of the population in America happens to White and Whites prefer to listen to and buy records from those they are familiar with. And I see this happening now with the cultural appropriation of the stereotypically Black woman’s features on White women as a way to promote the belief that nothing is beautiful and worthwhile unless it is on a White woman. Black women wore Afros, twists, braids, bantu knots and had big butts, breasts and full lips for centuries. And these are the features and styles that has been and continue to be associated with Black women. However many non Black women have begun to capitalize on these features for their own benefit while Black women with these same features are mocked and ridiculed. Thus promoting the belief that White is beautiful while Black is ugly all at the same time.
As recently as 1979, Bo Derek appeared in the movie, Ten with cornrows in her hair while Black women who wore cornrows to job interviews or in the workplace face being ridiculed or fired. Then Angelina Jolie became popular in movies and Hollywood and her big lips became a thing to emulate in the media while Black women, who are known for naturally having full lips, were ridiculed and made the butt of jokes for their full lips. And when Jennifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian came on the scene, their voluptuous figures were praised as the ideal of a female body while Black women with naturally voluptuous figures were called fat and ugly. Hence non Black women, who have Black features either naturally or surgically enhanced, can still reap the benefits of womanhood and worthy of protection much to the Black woman’s expense.
Here is a picture of Bo Derek, wearing cornrows. from a scene in the 1979 movie, Ten.
Here is a picture of Jennifer Lopez, singer and actress. She is known for her voluptuous figure.
Here is a picture of reality TV star, Kim Kardashian, who is known for her voluptuous figure as well.
Here is a picture of Angelina Jolie, actress and the wife of Brad Pitt
It is not to say that there isn’t any White women, Hispanic women, Asian women or other non Black women who naturally have features that are associated with Black women. There are many non Black women who naturally have full lips, big bottoms and curly hair and there are Black women who have slimmer bodies(I am one of them) and thinner lips. However these features are commonly associated with Black women and these features are now being considered the epitome of what is considered beautiful on a woman without giving Black women credit for where it is due.
What does this have to do with an article in Allure magazine promoting Afros as a style of choice?
Many if not most African American women experience having to cover their Afros and natural hair in public or straightened their hair for job interviews. And face less opportunities to get a job, find a date or even be taken seriously in society when they wear their natural hair out. Many African American women feel the need to straighten their hair and wear extensions and weaves to be taken seriously and be seen as beautiful in society. Even in the Black Community, natural hair is looked down on and seen as ”nappy” and something to change and alternate into ”good hair”. Yet Allure promoted Afros as a style for their readers(mostly White women) to emulate because it is ”stylish”.
When a White woman has any presumably Black features such as full lips, big butts and now Afro hair, she is considered beautiful and exotic. Look at how Kim Kardashian is deemed as the ultimate woman in the media due to her voluptuous figure while Serena Williams is called manly and ugly and has the same figure. And how Angelina Jolie and now Kylie Jenner being praised for having full lips while Kerry Washington’s full lips are hardly ever praised and overlooked. I know this all too well because I was made fun of for wearing braids in high school yet when my White friend wore cornrows, she was seen as beautiful. All the while, White and non Black women benefit from wearing braids, having full lips, bit butts, boobs without having to deal with not being hired for a job due to their natural hair being ”unkempt”, having their bodies seen as lewd and manly, being told constantly how undesirable and ugly they are 24/7, facing both racism and sexism in the workplace and other public places, being denied housing, lack of access to healthcare and lack of access to quality education that Black women face in society.
The Kylie Jenner challenge was a good example of this. Many teenagers across the country shot their lips inside of a glass to create luscious lips like Kylie Jenner has but many of these teenagers ended up with damaged lips instead. Kylie Jenner said in a tweet that she wants teenagers to be themselves and not go through lengths to change themselves yet Kylie Jenner admitted that her full lips are a result of fullers. Yet Black women have been mocked and ridiculed for having full lips for centuries. Oh, the irony!
Most of all, I am not saying that White women and women from other races can’t have big butts, full lips and now Afros however my intend was to speak about the double standards that benefits them much to the expense of Black women. In other words, one can be Black without actually being Black.