by John Hawkins | February 21, 2011 4:23 am
According Yasmin Alibhai-Brown at the Daily Mail, Beyonce is apparently some sort of whitey-wannabe race traitor who’s lightening her skin to the detriment of all dark skinned black women,
Too many black and Asian children grow up understanding the sad truth that to have dark skin is to be somehow inferior.
The young daughter of one of my relatives even tried to scrub her ‘dirty’ skin off with a Brillo Pad, such was her loathing for her natural colour.
Of course, black and Asian parents work hard to give their children a positive self-image and confidence in their appearance, despite the cultural forces stacked against them.
But when black celebrities appear to deny their heritage by trying to make themselves look white, I despair for the youngsters who see those images.
One black friend of mine, who has a 13-year-old daughter, was incandescent this week when she saw the picture of U.S. singer Beyonce at a pre-Grammy awards party.
Her complexion and limbs were translucently pallid, her locks long, straight and blonde.
Now, racial mixing since the days of slavery means ‘black’ Americans come in a whole range of skin hues, but in recent years Beyonce’s tone seems miraculously to be changing from dusky to peachy.
In truth, it is hard now to tell she is the daughter of an African-American father and Creole mother. It was three years ago that L’Oreal was accused of whitening Beyonce’s face in a magazine advert, a charge denied by the company. But now there she is, looking like a willowy Caucasian.
…So what, they would say. If it’s OK for white women to turn to plastic surgery, diet to the point of extinction and colour their hair, why can’t black and Asian women reinvent themselves without being accused of betraying their racial heritage?
The answer is that every woman of colour has an important social and cultural history that cannot simply be bleached away or denied by the use of hair straighteners. That’s why I passionately believe that Beyonce’s ignorance of how this betrays her heritage is so insidiously damaging to all peoples of colour.
…So why do these attitudes persist so long after independence in the 21st century? Academics studying these trends say it is because of globalisation and the emergence of ‘international beauty’ prototypes, based on the looks you see in fashion magazines and films.
And so it is that cosmetic surgeons are inundated – particularly in the Far East, in countries such as Singapore, where hundreds of women pay to have plastic surgery to make them look more Western.
In other words, they are wilfully shedding their own cultural heritage in favour of a more recent and more fashionable ideal. Anything goes now – if you can pay for it you can become what you want, and like many black and Asian stars, turn black to white.
But these idols are shallow and do not understand how their frivolous choices affect and undermine the self-esteem of women and children of colour.
I know these stars are under pressure to sell records and magazines.
But do they have to go white? Do they know what effect that has? Clearly not.
Beyonce’s unique, sensual beauty owed much to her racial and ethnic background.
That, it seems, was just not good enough, not even for her, a woman who has conquered the world. What hope then for all the rest?
First of all, it seems pretty iffy that Beyonce has actually lightened her skin in the first place,
They even asked the opinion of a consultant dermatologist, Dr. Sunil Chopra, who claimed to Dailymail.co.uk that: ‘The most effective skin-lightening agents are hydroquinone and kojic acid, creams which patients apply to the skin.
…‘The effects are temporary and work by inhibiting the enzyme … responsible for the skin’s pigment. Both are very popular. I see maybe three people every week who want this procedure. Additionally the skin specialists is also eager to bust these rumors and states that: ‘But it cannot be used over the whole body. It is very unlikely she has had her skin bleached in this way.’
Beyonce is fairly light skinned anyway and it may just be that she has blonde hair now and is wearing darker clothes and that combination, especially with photos taken in certain lighting, is giving her skin a lighter look.
Setting that aside, Beyonce doesn’t have any more of a special responsibility to try to look “darker” than white women do not to tan. Here’s the reality: Everybody wants to look their best. Some people are willing to go to extremes, whether it’s body building, surgery, or dieting “to the point of extinction.” If Beyonce thinks she looks better with blonde hair, is she supposed to forget it because of “social and cultural history?” Guess what? Everybody has “social and cultural history.” So, join the club.
Let me add that we live in an unfair world where women, in particular, are bombarded with images and standards that most of them could never live up to in their wildest dreams. We’re now at a point where rich sixty year old women can still have pert breasts and a wrinkle-free face. Magazines put the most beautiful women in the world on their covers — and then they airbrush the pictures to enhance their curves and complexion. Try living up to that standard as a normal woman, especially with legions of anonymous lamers on the Internet telling you that you’re ugly for every reason under the sun.
Seldom do I meet a woman who doesn’t have any insecurities about how she looks — and that even applies to women who are “model hot.” Either they think they’re a few pounds overweight, or they don’t like their nose, their bust, their lips — something — or they even just compare themselves to how they looked 10 years ago and don’t feel like they’ve held up well. It’s always something. So, while I feel bad for little girls trying to scrub their skin with Brillo Pads and Asian women getting surgery on their eyes to try to look more Caucasian, sadly, it’s just the nature of the modern media beast that we’ve created.
Honestly, I wish it WASN’T that way and VERY ironically, I find that men who actually date women — as opposed to the ones who kvetch about minor flaws on the net — are much less critical of women’s looks than most other women. But, the point is, Beyonce didn’t make the world like this and it isn’t going to change, whether she has blonde hair or an afro.
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