Black Natural Beauty Standards

Even within the reemergence of the so-called natural hair and celebrating Black beauty "movement", a lot of what I see being placed on pedestals as the definition of "Black beauty" is Black women who have the longer, curlier, "mixed" natural hair being praised and Black women who have 'softer" features (noses, face structure, body type, skin tone). It's no secret society has always viewed very exaggerated and stronger (Black/African) phenotypes such as broad noses and certain face structures on women as "masculine". All while the slimmer noses and other features are seen as more "feminine". It goes back to the Westernized ideals of beauty being closest to White features. I even look at some of these natural hair blogs, and the only images some of them feature is Black women with curly, long, "mixed" type hair. Y'all know what i mean, the Tracee Ellis Ross hair. 

Keep in mind how potent the repetition of imagery is. How certain images effect ones conscious and therefore actions, feelings, and emotions. Inward images feeding the brain, outward effects as previously mentioned. This is a classic tactic used in the media and in pop culture that manipulates people's opinions of what beauty is, what is popular, what the new trends are, and so forth. I remember last year on Twitter, Chicago rapper and activist Rhymefest even pointed out that when dark skinned women are celebrated, a lot of people usually tend to praise dark skinned women that specifically resemble Kelly Rowland and Naomi Campbell for example. Where are the women that look like Nina Simone? Where are the women with the strong Negroid features and the super kinky, 4b/4c shorter natural hair being featured on a "mainstream" platform? 

These images are not teaching that Black is Beautiful 100%. Many of them are teaching Black is Beautiful as long as your curls are looser. That you can be a beautiful dark skinned woman as long as you resemble Gabrielle Union. That as long as you have a slimmer nose as opposed to wider one, or "softer" features, you represent beauty. Or as long as you have a slender or video vixen curvy body, you will be praised, and the list goes on. There is still a set standard for Black beauty, even in the natural state and in my opinion, trend where all things Afrikan are celebrated. Many people pick and choose certain types to represent what is Black/African beauty when in reality, a lot of women don't even resemble it. I feel that this is just as problematic as how the mainstream American media displays standards of beauty. Not to mention the irony of how very Westernized this movement is all the while trying to embrace Afrocentricity. 

This isn't to shame the females with the softer features, lighter skin, and looser curls. This doesn't make them less Black and at the end of the day, blogs can feature whom they desire. What I am stating is that I would like to also see Black girls who look like the Nina Simones, India.Aries, and Viola Davis', not just the "model types". The issue is not the desire for validation, but equality and getting rid of the stereotypical elephant in the room. In general, I'd like to see women that represent regular, everyday women whether light or dark, because beauty is not seen in certain "types". We all can represent beauty whether our noses be broad or slender, whether our hair be kinky and short or long with loose curls. Don't go around saying that "Black is Beautiful" when you praise one likeness of blackness. Don't go around praising natural hair when you only praise the looser, curlier textures of natural hair. This matters significantly and exemplifies how even within a movement that is supposed to be celebrating all Black/Afrikan beauty, there are still limitations that are associated with the historical White standard of beauty that has always harmed the Black community. 



  1. Anonymous6/01/2014

    This is an interesting discussion. I'm sorta' in line with what you wrote. The whole natural hair discussion is slanted. The natural hair movement of today looks nothing like the natural hair movement of the 70's.

    1. Thanks for reading. I agree. It seems like many want to make the newer movement similar to the one in the 70's, but it's not like that at all.