As the world is changing, the standard of beauty is also shifting and evolving to match the modern ways of what beauty should be. Today, one might say that beauty in the U.S. is inclusive, unique, advanced, or however you choose it to be.
The great thing about modern American beauty is that we — the people — get to choose how we want our face, body, and hair to appear to the outside world. Nowadays, there is also a better representation and more of an acceptance of all body types and skin tones throughout media.
However, the standard of beauty wasn’t always like this.
According to the Black feminist theory, it states that the devaluation of American Black women stems from the institution of American slavery, where black women’s bodies were routinely violated for profit and pleasure.
In fact, when we look at the history of black beauty in America, black women’s bodies and beauty have always been devalued and rejected by mainstream culture. Rather than fixing the issue, the mainstream culture overvalued the European aesthetic instead.
The standard of beauty in the United States has always considered white skin, blue eyes, and straight, long, blond hair as the epitome of beauty. On the flip side, brown and black features on people were deemed as ugly, undesirable, and less feminine.
It wasn’t until the birth of the black is beautiful movement in the 1960s that the slogan ‘Black is Beautiful’ came about to reject the Eurocentric view and celebrate dark black/brown skin and tightly curled hair. The cultural movement also aimed to dispel the notion that black people’s natural features (skin color, facial features, and hair) were inherently ugly.
The emergence of the ‘Black is Beautiful’ movement, gave way to tons of black and brown businesses, which created influxes of black-owned cosmetic lines and products for dark skin tones.
Though the mainstream media rarely represents black and brown women as beautiful, it is very important that Black and Brown people recognize the beauty within themselves. Research indicates that the negative ideas of blackness poured upon Black people — deeming them as ugly, is highly damaging to the psyche of Black people.
Black and Brown people have grown up in a world where they have to constantly hear (whether through media or in their environment) that they are not beautiful. The white projections of beauty have normalized and taught Black people — especially women, that bleaching your skin and straightening your hair is what you need to do to be beautiful, and this is so not true.
Therefore, instead of encouraging negative ideas about African American beauty, there needs to be more positivity and a positive perception built of the true beauty of Black and Brown faces, hair, and bodies.
Understanding why beauty is so important in the Black and Brown community means knowing that beauty is not rooted in one standard form of beauty. Rather, beauty in the Black and Brown community is vastly diverse and comes in many beautiful shapes, sizes, and colors.
There is not a one-size-fits-all when it comes to beauty in the Black and Brown community. We are all beautiful in our own special way and that in itself is the best beauty of all.
By Josie D.
The Cheetah Buzz