Who told her that it was better to be a freak than what she was?

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Someone once told me that if I had green eyes, I would be more beautiful.

I was shocked and puzzled by his comment.  Aren’t brown eyes beautiful? Aren’t they as beautiful as green eyes?

But everyday, I see this pursuit of white beauty. I meet countless black women with store bought eyes, ranging from hazel, to grey, to green and to blue.

I turn on the television and I am inundated with high-profile black women who look like whitewashed versions of their former selves.

Now, I don’t have an issue with anyone wanting to change their appearance and try a new look. But often times these women undergo radical changes to their appearance. Suddenly they were ‘born’ with green or hazel eyes. Blonde appears to be their go-to hair colour. Their skin looks shades lighter than when they first started their careers and their noses become more hooked and narrow than flat. To name a few: Beyonce, Keri Hilson, Rihanna, Lil Kim, Nicki Minaj and the list goes on. At times the transformation is almost freakish, unnatural and alien-like.

Toni Morrison, in her novel, The Bluest Eye, shows how society and the family impact a black woman’s view of beauty and her belief that if she possesses a white feature that she will be seen as beautiful. In the afterword of the novel Morrison states: “Implicit in her desire [for blue eyes] was racial self-loathing. And twenty years later I was still wondering about how one learns that. ”

Too often I hear the mantras: “black is beautiful” and “black pride.” But when we alter our appearance so drastically that we erase our blackness, how can we say that we are black, proud and beautiful?

Morrison goes on to pose a powerful and still relevant question:

“ Who told her that it was better to be a freak than what she was? Who had looked at her and found her so wanting, so small a weight on the beauty scale?”

The answers to these questions are varied and at times painful.  They may begin with a stray remark a mother makes about her child’s hair. Or that we do not see ourselves on the television or in magazines or in Disney fairy tales  How everyone fusses over the girl or woman with the European features. Maybe at school we are bullied because of our appearance. Or we are told that our success in a certain industry requires a certain look .

The overarching message we receive is that black women are deficient in beauty. And in our quest to possess a beauty that  is not our own, we twist and pull, sculpt and carve, until we are neither black nor white,but distorted  versions of the furthest thing from ourselves. Sadly, we fail to enjoy and experience our own beauty.

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3 thoughts on “Who told her that it was better to be a freak than what she was?

  1. i am with you all the way esther! countless times growing up i was made fun of for being light skin and for being born with hazel eyes. people couldnt believe me and my darker sisters were real related sisters. even my sisters dis-owned me as being a real black woman just because of my natural appearance.(believe it or not my nick -name in my family is “white girl”) In the media i’ve seen plenty of women of color “sell out” and get their hair, skin, and eyes 2 shades lighter. it makes me sad because its giving young black girls and insecure black women a message that they are not beautiful enough and will not get compliments or attention if they do not look a certain way. An old saying my mom used to tell me they would say in america in her day was…”if your white your alright, if your brown stick around, if your black stay back”. black women have always felt excluded and felt like they come last and are at the bottom of the barrel. whenever my little sister and i would be out in public and a group of guys would walk pass my sister would whisper that they were only looking at me because i was light skin and that meant i was more beautiful. i was offended and i felt bad for my sister who felt that way. she was so beautiful and was actually a darker version of me! but she believed no one paid attention to her or would pay her no mind just because she was not light. i believe i am more than a light shade and hazel eyes myself…. i am tall, beautiful, smart, i have a good personality with good intentions. i never thought i was better or looked better just because of the pigmentation of my skin. its an epidemic with many black celebrities as you say. they all start out “real” “true to themselves” and” proud to be black”.Then once they get some fame they change their overall apperance and then the process begins where they abandon their natural look and try to become a new person and seek on this new identity… its happened so much its become the norm and no one really says anything about because everyone’s doing it! i am not sure why this is going on either

  2. i believe the media and also ignorant people who watches society and witnesses and encourages our black women change their image to better suite others who believe only one type of look is beautiful

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