Black is Beautiful, by Memorie Lanier

Memorie Lanier

A.P. Literature Composition

Ms. Stone

9 June 2011                                                                

Black is Beautiful     

           Where I come from in order to be considered a beautiful African American woman, you must have extensive hair, eyelashes and light skin. There are many interpretations of what beauty is worldwide but the most common misconceptions and argumentative situations are the blindness of African American beauty. Natural beauty is not recognized in the black community due to the standard attributes of coarse hair, rough skin and dark skin. The more pigmentation you have the less sex appeal you have to the males in society. As an African American woman, I am often asked if my hair is real or am I diversified with another ethnicity because of the grade of my hair and the beauty within myself. Growing up as an African American girl and emerging into a woman, the definition of beauty has blinded me and the people of society by removing African Americans from the idealistic views of black women and attractiveness.      

                    African American women beauty is undefined. We struggle to be something we are not instead of living with we what were born with. The racial standards of society become a confusing circumstance that shakes the self-esteem of black females and the aspect of who we believe we are based on the hype distributed through media and society. We want to feel beautiful and noticed so we straighten our hair, and get eyelashes to see if we can attract men like the other groups. We cover our born with attributes to satisfy others and identify ourselves as beautiful when in reality beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We have the anticipation to get new extensions to impress and increase the self-esteem of who we truly are. 

          My junior year in high school I was told that I was cute to be dark skinned. I did not know how to take that remark as a compliment or insult. The absence of African American beauty opened my eyes immediately and I realized that this was an offense and to make matter worst the comment was avowed by a person of color which reveals the internalized racism that weighs heavily on the true meaning of African American beauty. Dark skin is rarely accepted in society and African American women began to feel like there is no such thing as being naturally beautiful. We should love ourselves for who we are, define our character and not let others dictate how we should look to be considered attractive. We are misunderstood as a group because we let media and society articulates what we should wear, how we should speak and how much we should wear our hair. Although we are from a different culture, as African American women we have to unite and should start by being natural.   

        In the novel, The Bluest Eye, Pecola struggles with her standing as an African American girl. Skin color becomes the transitioning and constant theme throughout the novel explicating that lighter skin is considered cleanliness, affluent upbringing and pure beauty. On the other hand, dark skin is perceived as filth, ugliness and poverty. There are many subliminal misconceptions of the definition of beauty through African Americans. Models of African American descent are not recognized by the eyes of media and society. Society’s perspective of black women is that we are better off “made-up”, we cannot be exposed if our hair isn’t straight or synthetic. Although there are many misapprehensions of black women, there are women of color who have confidence in their beauty despite media’s perspective of who we are. “I am proud of being an African American woman because of the history behind our culture.  I am not afraid to show who I really am, I straighten my hair but it’s not because of what others think. I enjoy every minute of being an African American and I am proud of where I come from. “This suggests that you must live your life according to your understanding and reality of heritage. The roots you were born into define the unquestionable misconceptions of society. I am African American and I do not live my life according to expectations and images that society expects us to live by.   

          According to psychologists, “the loss of self-esteem is nothing more than the natural process of growing up a female and realizing that what was once respected and adored is no longer tolerated or accepted.” This explicates that the attitude of self-esteem within African American women belittles their attitude to be natural and be accepted by society when revealing the values that we were born with. This causes the decrease in the realization of our self-image and weakens our self-esteem. We began making dramatic changes of our image to ensure that we are not judged by the opinionated media and society. We must stand together as African American women, we are human like everyone else and only we can identify ourselves as ideally beautiful.

            To conclude, being an African American woman impacts me the most due to the low self-esteem and robotic behavior of our women. It exhibits the lack of truth and promotes misconceptions through media.  Stereotyped, oppressed and overlooked we have no rating as a beautiful race. The texture of our hair and the coloration of our skin minimizes our definition of factual beauty .We are beautiful , and we can be on the cover of a magazine without enhancing our looks to give pleasure to those who only judge us based on what they hear . It’s possible, I do it every day with a smile, and no one judges me. It may take time for people to adjust to your appearance but no one will understand you unless you believe in yourself and put forth an effort and reveal who you really are. There will always be misconceptions but you must overlook it all and establish a beauty within yourself. We are African American women, we are not born with straight hair and at the end of the day beauty is in the eye of the beholder.