Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Beautiful Skin

Imagine a father and daughter, talking about the daughter’s goals in life. “I want to be Ms College Queen,” says the young girl to her daddy. “Well, honey,” her father says, “I’m sorry, but you’re fat, and unless you lose weight you’re considered unattractive so maybe you should just aspire to be SGA president instead.”

Of course, no father, unless he has serious mental problems, would say that to his daughter. So why is it so easy for us to say it about someone else’s daughter, someone else’s sister, or someone else’s role model?

Today I was perusing one of my daily reads, the Tallahassee Democrat FAMU Sports message board, and it caught my eye: another insulting shot at black women. Now, this MB has frequently crossed the line of decency, in my opinion, as it relates to black women. But this conversation was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

The conversation started out OK, with a sort of congratulations to FAMU for having this year’s Ms FAMU featured prominently in Ebony’s yearly College Queens section. But from there, it went downhill. One poster remarked that is was nice that FAMU had finally returned to some “normalcy” with this year’s selection (last year’s Ms FAMU was overweight). Someone else went on to remark “…I don't understand the purpose of electing an unattractive "beauty" queen.” WHOSE view of beauty are we looking at?

When the former Ms FAMU, my soror, was selected, I was proud. Not because we are in the same sorority, but because it showed me that maybe we were growing up, that maybe we were on the right track to loving and appreciating our black women in whatever shape, color or package she came in. I guess I was wrong.

Black women have been told by mainstream society for years how we were to look, and now our safe haven, the black man, is making us feel like we’re not good enough. My good friend, RR2, put it best in an e-mail:
“Women really have no chance in our community, because our own standards are so screwed up. (Men) objectify women from the womb because that’s what everyone tells them to do. Then, they wonder why the women they’re with can’t feel comfortable. She’s trying to compete with other breasts, thighs, waists and booties instead of building something with the man she’s with and fully loving herself. So, she’s eating twigs and berries, being mad because she really wants to eat the steak she served him and growing more and more resentful. “

For every man who has heard, “Do I look fat in this” or “Does this make my butt look big” or something similar, ask yourself if you might have prompted the question. Ask yourself if perhaps your own unrealistic view of beauty is contributing to your girlfriend/spouse or child’s low self esteem.

My younger sister, at age 12 was chubby. She felt down about herself because she didn’t look like the women on TV who everyone seemed to fawn over. I told her she was beautiful, not because she is my sister, but because it’s true. She has since lost weight playing sports but she was beautiful before, is still beautiful, and will continue to be, even if she gains weight. I just hope when she grows up, she won’t let any man – or anyone else for that matter – make her believe otherwise.

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