By Jasmine Smith, March 9, 2021
Growing up, when I would look in the mirror, I didn’t like what I saw. Staring back at me was a young, insecure girl who hated her curves, her nose and even her skin. Flash forward over a decade, and the features that I wished I could change are now a trend. My problem with this is that the same society that made me feel ugly for my features now praises women who alter themselves to have them.
I’m not against people enhancing themselves; however, when it gets to the point where your extreme tan causes you to blackfish, we have a problem. Blackfishing is when a person no longer resembles their natural appearance and can be mistaken as Black, like Rachel Dolezal. I understand people want to look healthy and have a glow, but I find it ironic that being dark only seems acceptable if you’re not a person of color.
Trolls will say it’s the same as Black women straightening their hair and wearing weaves, but it’s not. Black women for centuries have had their looks ridiculed by a Eurocentric society that wanted them to feel bad about who they are — nitpicking every characteristic from their hair to their ‘immoral’ curvaceous body. A body that thousands of women pay to mimic because having a butt and curves is the trend.
What baffles me is that there is a part of our society that believes that using a person of colors’ features and making them popular is okay and has no repercussions. I say this because so many Black women and other women of color have tried to change themselves to fit a mold that was made to ostracize them, only for the trend to change again. Now their beauty is welcomed; however, they’re not praised but the individuals who replicate them are. The beauty standard game can mess you up, and it’s hard to pull yourself out of the hole especially when everywhere you look there’s another beautiful face. Celebrities pave the wave for what is popular and it’s hard not to want to join the bandwagon because we all want to be one of the cool ones.
I can speak from experience because I have a specific memory from elementary school that stuck with me forever. A group of children played a story game, and one boy looked at me and said that I was a slave because I was Black. I didn’t know what to feel because up until that moment, the color of my skin and what it represented never crossed my mind. Years later, when I see people who want my melanin but not what comes with it, I get upset.
For so long, I have felt like I was not worthy of compliments unless I morphed myself into what society deemed acceptable. From straightening my hair to losing weight, I tried to obtain a standard that’s been against me from the start. Black women and Black beauty have always been put down by society as a form of control so that we don’t grow too confident in ourselves.
When we are confident, we’re called promiscuous, easy, or intimidating. There seems to be no winning for Black women unless we dim our light so that others can shine. It might seem petty on the outside looking in, but I am tired of Black women being looked down on for their appearance when so many women want what we have.
I love that Black women are now getting the praise they deserve, but people need to remember that glowing melanin, full beautiful lips, and curvy bodies are not a trend. My body is not a trend for people to try on as they please then toss away. My body, like all women’s bodies, is precious and deserving of love, not judgement.
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