Why are West African features repulsive to some African-American Women?

Discussion
Apr 16, 2012
by: dianai

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Women. It never has been clear to me why looking “African” is so repulsive to some African-American women. (I quote African because there is many countries and people in the continent of Africa and most Africans do not look the same). I first realized this from the perming of hair, straight long weave and bleaching of skin. Now that I’ve grown older and wiser, I’ve seen that beauty takes on many shape and sizes, but there will always be a status quo on how someone or a community should do to be beautiful. But what makes dark skin, kinky hair/nappy hair so ugly to some? This post does not speak for all African-American women, but perhaps it only speaks for most.

When I was a child I did not really pay attention to beauty as much. But when I started school, I began to see I was not accepted among my peers. I was not accepted because of my strong African accent, my dark skin color and my short kinky hair. I remember when I once un-braided my hair and tried to make bangs. I thought my hair was perfect until I arrived at school and was teased for trying to look pretty. I then realize that my hair was too kinky and it could not sit still; my hair stood out like a cap. The kids made it clear to me that I am nothing close to beautiful. That is when I began to wonder if any West African feature can be accepted in African-American womens' ideas on beauty. In 2012 more African women have accepted their natural hair, but most are still perming.

I went through searches on the Internet and found a book by Byrod D. Ayana and Thraps L. Lori. The book was really interesting and well written. The book explained the origin in which Kinky hair was looked down upon. Many believe that kinky hair is “bad hair,” but according to the authors, it was not always like this. The authors state that in Africa kinky hair was praised. The authors also state that the different types of kinky hair Africans had represented their state of mind, status in the community, single or not etc. These statements may seem crazy but apparently the way Africans styled their hair determined who they were. At one point in my reading I encountered this quote: “White society, to some extent, was more accepting of lighter-skinned Blacks. It didn't help, however that Black people, both light- and dark-skinned, helped perpetuate this truth by maintaining the straight hair, light skin, hierarchy within their own ranks. Jobs, marriage partners, even education were typically predicated on the texture of the hair and the shade of the skin.” I felt enlightened with information after reading that statement. I began to realize that may have been the start of it all.

I searched the Internet again for a second source and came upon an article called: “Black Women with Dark Skin, Do Blacks Embrace Self-Hate?” This article was truly engaging. I agreed to everything written in the post. I was not even surprised when I found myself shaking my head with approval when the author wrote: “Like most people reading this article, I grew up hearing jokes about darker-skinned African-Americans. 'Nappy' hair was an even greater curse. The further south you go, the more light skin carries a premium, to the point that it seems to matter more than anything else.” These jokes at times were recited near me, and being that I have many or if not all of the West African features, the jokes truly hurt. Lighter-skinnned girls at most times were chosen over darker-skinnned. The author would state African-American beauty is focused mostly on Eurocentric standard of beauty. Neither could I argue with that statement.

My Third source, “The Good Hair-Bad Hair Controversy” is a article that revolves around the movie "Good Hair" by Chris Rock. As I was reading the article I came across this one statement: “But my only issue is although we spend over 6 billion dollars on hair care products our communities benefit very little from it.” This one quote caught my eyes. When I saw this, I was so surprised that so much money is spent on hair care products. It made realize how hair is very important to most women in almost every race. I began to see that most raced do want the long, flowy, silky hair.

The fourth article I found was written by Harris Janelle. This article was really different from all the other articles I read. Ms. Harris wrote that there is nothing wrong with wanting to perm your hair. She believes African-American women do not have to wear their natural hair to be proud of who they are. Ms. Harris also explained that when she turned thirteen, she was taken to the neighborhood saloon to get her first perm. She believes that getting a perm was her way of showing she had grown up. Ms. Harris writes: “Straight hair was nothing new. So getting a perm, to us anyway, wasn’t about achieving the illustrious look of white girl hair. It was about being almost grown enough to sit up in that hairdresser’s chair, shed those plaits and maze of barrettes, and rock an actual, honest-to-goodness hairstyle.” I actually find nothing wrong with perming. I do have a problem if people are perming their hair because they believe kinky hair is nasty.

In my last article, “Are black women less attractive than other women?” I encountered a ridiculous survey the article was disproving. This survey was called, “Why are black women physically less attractive than other women?” This survey was made by a man named Satoshi Kanazawa. He wrote that black women are less attractive because their features are more masculine, and black men are attractive because of the their muscular features. The author of “Are black women less attractive than other women?” was really outraged by this survey. She even wrote “Meanwhile, Williams also believes that it is going to take a while for people to truly accept black features as opposed to just using it as a "marketing strategy to mimic appreciation." I agree with the author that there is a lot of propaganda on T.V. Every time I turn on the television I see a woman with long flowing hair advertising a shampoo. If there are black models I see mostly European features, like a tiny nose, a light complexion and long flowing hair. These commercials are saying that you are beautiful when you are white.

All the information I gathered from my research helped me come to an answer to my question: “Is West African beauty repulsive?” Like the famous saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and people should try to avoid placing one type of beauty idea on many different groups of people. I’ve learned that the belief which says that kinky hair is dirty and dark skin is ugly came from slavery. I also learned that there is nothing wrong with dark skin and kinky hair.

Work Cited:

Book:

Byrod D. Ayana and Thraps L.Lori. Hair story: untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2001

“White society, to some extent, was more accepting of lighter -skinned Blacks. It didn't help, however that black people, both light- and dark skinned, helped perpetuate this truth by maintaining the straight hair, light skin, hierarchy within their own ranks. Jobs, marriage partners, even education were typically predicated on the texture of the hair and the shade of the skin.”

Article:

Dr.Boyce Watkins. “ Black Women with Dark Skin, Do Blacks Embrace Self-Hate?”
ThyBlackMan.com
August 6, 2011. April 14, 2012

http://thyblackman.com/2011/08/06/dr-boyce-watkins-black-women-with-dark...

“Like most people reading this article, I grew up hearing jokes about darker-skinned African Americans. “Nappy” hair was an even greater curse. The further south you go, the more light skin carries a premium, to the point that it seems to matter more than anything else.”

Article:
Primm Roy. “The Good Hair-Bad Hair Controversy” ideamarketers.com
http://www.ideamarketers.com/?good_hair&articleid=737410

“But my only issue is although we spend over 6 billion dollars on hair care products our communities benefit very little from it.”

Article:

Harris Janelle. “Perms Versus Naturals: The Black Hair Battle” clutchmagonline.com.

May 11, 2009. April 14, 2012

http://www.clutchmagonline.com/2009/05/perms-versus-naturals-the-black-h...

“ Straight hair was nothing new. So getting a perm, to us anyway, wasn’t about achieving the illustrious look of white girl hair. It was about being almost grown enough to sit up in that hairdresser’s chair, shed those plaits and maze of barrettes, and rock an actual, honest-to-goodness hairstyle.”

Article:

Wilson Nadine. “Are black women less attractive than other women?” jamaicaobserver.com

June 06, 2011. April 14, 2012

“Meanwhile, Williams also believes that it is going to take a while for people to truly accept black features as opposed to just using it as a "marketing strategy to mimic appreciation".”

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/magazines/allwoman/Are-black-women-less-a...

Comments

Problem all over the world.

chappellec's picture
Submitted by chappellec on Wed, 2012-04-18 14:10.

I was interested to read your writing and the video on dark-skinned girls. You really grabbed my attention and you explained to me how dark-skinned people feel when they walk outside everyday and also how some dark-skinned women were brought.

One sentence you wrote that stands out for me was the way you quoted that famous phrase: "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." I also say that because not a lot of people agree when you find someone attractive.

Another sentence that came to my attention was: “But my only issue is although we spend over 6 billion dollars on hair care products, our communities benefit very little from it.” This stood out for me because people put perm, put Greece in their hair and get the newest shampoo and you see them a year later and their hair is the same way or shorter.

Your essay was a very interesting thing to read and write about. I enjoyed it because it talks about a problem that happens all over the world with people not being accepted because of a certain skin color or texture of hair.

Thanks for you writing. I look forward to seeing you write next time because I wonder what good topics you might want to express your thoughts about, what you may not like or enjoy.

Until next time!

Thank you!

Submitted by dianai on Thu, 2012-04-19 19:16.

Dear, Chappellec

I glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for reading it!

Dear Naicha, I am inspired

Submitted by tatianar on Tue, 2012-05-08 14:55.

Dear Naicha,

I am inspired by your post "Why are West African Features Repulsive To Some African American Women" because this is a major topic I always thought about.I can basically say Im black since Im not white and i can connect with your post.
One sentence that caught my eye was when you said "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" I totally agree with that. Who is anyone to judge whose beautiful and whose not. Beautie doesn't have a face so everyone is beautiful in their own way.
Another sentence that caught my eye was when you said "African American women are seened as less attractive then any other race"Iv noticed that in our society today.Black women are seened as the last choice race to go for. That is wrong and I hope that changes some day.
Your post reminds me of something that happen to me.One time I was with my black girl friend and a boy made a comment saying "ill shes black,hell no that's not my type". I couldn't believe he said that and he was Spanish.People can be so wrong these days.
Thanks for your writing.I look forward to seeing what you write next, because this topic was very interesting. This topic is so true and going on in this world everyday.I just hope someday it changes.

Thanks for your comment.

Submitted by dianai on Thu, 2012-05-17 12:56.

Dear Tatiana,

I am happy to have inspired you. I am sorry about your friend. Some times people are ignorant. Thanks for your comment.

are african features repulsive to african-american women

Submitted by robin on Tue, 2012-05-22 10:34.

In response to Tatianor, many Puerto-Ricans feel they have to choose to identify with black or white once they come to the U.S.A. Some of them who can pass for white americans -- will not date other P.R.'s that are brown-skinned or black. I can tell you many instances of 'white' skinned P.R.'s that have shown a racial biasness towards 'dark-sknned people. And most of these 'white' looking P.Rs have dark-skinned African featured grandparents & parents! However, there are lots of African-featured P.R.s who are very proud of their African ancestry.

West African Features

Submitted by Anonymous on Tue, 2014-08-26 20:55.

I think it's a combination of things but West African features are highly unattractive to me on women and men.  For men although the features may suit them better because the features are coarse and harsh, I still find them unattractive. I also don't want my future children to have those traits or anything remotely close. For females, sometimes I'm repulsed or feel sad for them that they they were so unfortunate genetically. They are indeed the most disadvantaged in the human animal kingdom besides people with physical/mental disabilities of some sort.

this is true we are

Submitted by Anonymous on Fri, 2014-11-14 20:27.

this is true we are brainwashed by European standard of beauty we are very attractive but because we are the farthest thing Europeans we at considers "ugly" and our hair is "bad"

Your SICK! the poster abouve

Submitted by Anonymous on Fri, 2014-11-21 17:41.

Your SICK! the poster abouve me that is and im not african american and stubled on this site. I hope you get some help and please dont have any children with that sick mentality of your. People are a creation of GOD. who are you as a human to decide who has be elvated or been given a disadvatage based of their features. Every is blessed in their own way and YOU are not GOD, so stop  passing judgment on people!

women in general

Submitted by Anonymous on Fri, 2015-06-05 11:22.

Why do 85% of women look better with their clothes on, or better said, why do we prefer to see them in clothes and would hate to view them naked, and that is women of all races and nationalities? Why are we hearing all this nonsense about female empowerment when it is clear to anyone with eyes that most women do not have the will power to resist a second, third, or forth helping of food?