Balanced Melting Pot

Beauty in Our Eyes

In African Americans, Culture, Parenting, Race Relations, Self Image on January 26, 2009 at 11:20 am

Although I am known to point out the many differences between immigrants of African descent and African-Americans, I know that there are also many similarities that link the two groups; most good and some not so good.

One of which is the prejudice between light and darker blacks that has created distorted image perceptions and class divisions among black people around the world. Recently, I was reading about Chris Rock’s new documentary Good Hair that premiered at the Sundance Festival this month. The title alone made me cringe. I immediately thought of using that phrase as a child, both in English and Haitian Creole, to describe hair on a black person that more closely resembled that of a Caucasian.

Somehow, somewhere along the way (I say that facetiously), we adopted that notion that anything resembling Caucasians was good and passed on this incorrect notion from generation to generation. I wrote a paper about this in college and was actually surprised to learn that it wasn’t restricted to black cultures; Asians and Latin Americans share this distortion of self-image, as well.

In any case, it is very difficult in this society to teach minority children about positive self-image, but I think it’s crucial in order to change what I think is culturally destructive. I had to consciously work to change my knee-jerk reactions to seeing people like Alek Wek or Susan Taylor and start seeing beauty differently.

What are your thoughts about this issue? How would you start changing the perception of beauty for the younger generations? 

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  1. I recently went natural, and it took quite a bit of time for me to appreciate my beauty in it’s raw sense. Now, I can’t imagine going back to the “good hair” concept. We’re all beautiful in our differences. We just have to get away from how we’ve been socialized to think about beauty.

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