I am so tired of being the other woman. And I am especially fed up with being the other beautiful woman. Why can’t I just be a beautiful woman? As a Caribbean woman I have been placed into the rare, maybe exotic, ethnic beauty box time and time again. In high school, people always told me that I was beautiful for a black girl. I could not say thank you to such a back handed compliment or could I? I always felt awkward when people made these compliments because it seemed like black and beautiful were a paradox. And I was beautiful because of my Caribbean heritage.
Reading about GQ’s offensive hottest women’s list barely caused me to bat an eye lid because GQ clearly did not label these women in its magazine as ethnic others. The author of Shine questions why Beyonce, who was on the cover of GQ, was named Miss Millennium instead of Miss African-American Millennium. And why wasn’t Mila Kunis’s Ukrainian roots or Kim Kardashian’s Armenian heritage mentioned. But Beyonce, Mila and Kim are all American, why does their ancestry matter? I don’t support men’s magazines but GQ did the correct thing by not pointing out their heritage, because they are American. Isn’t GQ an American magazine?
GQ also goes on to mention hottest women from countries around the world. Describing a woman, for example as a “hot Indian chick,” and “hot for an Indian chick” are two different things. One implies it is rare for Indian chicks to be hot like the example I gave from when I was in high school, and one is a compliment using the woman’s ethnicity as a description. I don’t think the GQ list is racially offensive because it is highlighting beautiful women from around the world and stating their respective countries of origin.
The point is that women of color have been placed in a beauty box. Their beauty is confined to their ethnicity either as something exotic or a rarity and I find that insulting. Whereas white women, or white- looking women can break through racial beauty barriers and are seen as just beautiful.
It would be interesting if the media, and everyone else saw ethnic women the way I see myself; before I am a black woman, a Caribbean woman, I am a woman.