Black Beauty on White Bodies
Updated: Mar 1, 2019
"Be aware of culture vultures"- us
Whiteness was the standard of beauty since perhaps colonization. White people determined that fair skin and light eyes were the ideal beauty for the world; they even depicted Jesus as white 👀. Yes, white people invented this illogical standard of beauty, but non-white people internalized it. Skin lightening products became an epidemic in Asian and African nations.
Fast forward to the 21st century--in the era of advertisements and the entertainment industry--white beauty continues to be in the center. The narrative was: fairer skin is the epitome of beauty while darker skin is ugly. In other words, white women were the most beautiful, and dark skinned black women were the ugliest with everyone else scattered in the middle. However, a cultural shift in the way beauty is expressed started to emerge thanks to social media.
Black women--especially dark skinned black women--have been told explicitly and implicitly that they were not beautiful nor desired. Their hair, complexion, lips, nose, hips, butt, and thighs have received nothing short of criticism. Black girls saw a very minimal and controlled representation of black women while ignoring other diverse forms of black beauty.
Social media has become a bigger influence than mainstream media in recent years which allowed for beauty to be expressed in different ways. Black women and girls relearned to love themselves and appreciate their existence, and displayed it online for others to celebrate the diverse forms of beauty.
In the last decade, we saw a slight but significant cultural shift in beauty standards for women. We shifted from the Paris Hilton-esque glamour to the Kardashian/Jenner look. The race of the women did not change but the aesthetics did. black women’s aesthetic became desirable so white women adopted it while erasing black women in the process. But that’s mainstream, so it is to be expected.
On social media, on the other hand, this trend is a little more alarming and insidious. There has been a steady rise of mainly white girls and women unabashedly adopting features predominately specific to black women. The curly hair, plump lips, big thighs and butt, and complexion darkening have swarmed social media, specifically Instagram. A white women’s backside is constantly featured on Instagram like never before. White asses infiltrated many trending pages of many popular hashtags on Instagram.
Black women and girls cultivated a sacred space on the interwebs to remind black people globally that black beauty doesn’t need validation from others. Finally, when little black girls and women fell in love with their aesthetic, white women swooped in like vultures and appropriated it.
Black women were criticized for what white women are now praised for.
Black beauty on white bodies.