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Pet Sins January 2004

Eurocentric notions of beauty in the African American community

African Americans contributors give their take on the hold of Eurocentric notions of beauty in the community:

M:

When I was in high school, one of my classmates said to me, "these white girls make me sick -- they show you a ni__er as black as your hat and try to tell you he's cute." I was shocked!

L:

We're being socialized to see whites as beautiful, pure, and superior. Our beauty standards and value systems stem from a white Eurocentric point of view. In terms of beauty, the images of white people have been deemed the ultimate symbol of attractiveness. Those who don't fit those standards are deemed less beautiful and less handsome. Whiteness is valued while non-whiteness is devalued.

There is so much to consider like it being illegal for Africans and their descendants to learn to read and be educated. It was and is still blasphemous to see Black people depicted in the same social, romantic, professional, intellectual, and socio-economic situations as white people.

Black people have been stripped of our heritage and our ancestors and even to this day, have been seasoned to hate themselves, hate each other, hate Africa, hate the Africans, hate the customs and culture from whence one came. In doing this, we were taught to value and embrace whiteness.

We've been socialized to accept white beauty standards and that is why some members of all minority groups are doing what they can cosmetically and surgically to look like white people.

2003

Comment from 'M'
I was struck by the above comment: "Black people have been stripped of our heritage and our ancestors and even to this day, have been seasoned to hate themselves, hate each other, hate Africa, hate the Africans, hate the customs and culture from whence one came. In doing this, we were taught to value and embrace whiteness."

I agree that black people in the U.S. have conditioned to hate themselves. For one, I think the "hair thing" is a big issue in the African American community. I get so tired of seeing black women on television with hair weaves, wigs, etc. Women have the right to wear their hair anyway they choose, of course, but where is it written that hair has to be long and straight to be beautiful?

However, I don't think that most African Americans hate Africa. If anything, many of us try to reach out and connect with our heritage through African inspired clothing, hairstyles, holidays like Kwanza, etc. African names for our children, etc.

However, it's been my experience that many (not all, of course) Africans have a superior attitude towards black Americans, thinking that we are ignorant, uneducated, and inferior to them because our ancestors were slaves. Other black Americans have commented on this as well. These same Africans shun African Americans but worship white people. It really is pathetic.