by Anti-Intellect

In the Black community, there can be no female equivalent of the often heard expression “Light skin men gone out of style.” White supremacist notions of beauty and femininity have seeped too far into the Black community for us to ever be comfortable with saying that “Light skin women have gone out of style.” In the minds of many Blacks who have embraced white supremacist thinking, light skinned Black women represent both idealized beauty and femininity, and therefore are always “in style”.

jesse_williams10We may laugh and chuckle about light skinned men going out of style, but the same would never be allowed with women. We are much more comfortable with dark skinned men than we are with dark skinned women. A dark skinned man can be seen as macho, rugged, rough; all things affirming to his masculinity, and therefore appealing in the eyes of Black men and women.
The dark skinned Black woman, however, is in a much more precarious position. How could the dark skinned Black woman ever be in style in a Black community that has internalized white supremacist notions of beauty? In the minds of white supremacist Blacks, her dark skin marks her as rough, rugged, unfeminine, and ugly. The intersection of white supremacy and patriarchy. Light skinned men may go out of style in the Black community, but the light skinned woman will always hold her position in a community that views her lighter skin as a marker of feminine beauty.

Aja Naomi KingI can’t say I’ve been talked about or criticized to my face about being a dark skinned woman, but I have felt intimidated in the presence of light skinned women. All three of my best friends are gorgeous, light skinned women. Two of them have the ‘body’ to go along with the face and I can’t lie, I’ve had moments where I’ve felt less beautiful in the presence of them. I know that men prefer them over me for a couple of reasons. I’m not only dark skinned, but I’m also plus sized. I wouldn’t consider myself extremely insecure because overall I’m pretty secure. But we all struggle with something we may not quite like about ourselves. My question is, how do we overcome this issue? Personally, I admire the beauty of our men and women because of our different shades of brown. I’ve also come to the conclusion that in my mind, I don’t think many light skinned men are attracted to me. But why do I only feel this intimidation when around light skinned women? Why do I feel that way about light skinned men? Is it that I’m aware of some people’s mentality regarding light skinned women? Or have I allowed this taint my way of thinking and harm my personal confidence? How do we as a people stop this cycle of lighter being better or prettier? Will things ever really get better? I’d like some insight”. Comment from Stephanie (@ShesMelodic)

This documentary specifically focuses on the history and present portrayal of Black women in the media. The film is approximately 9 minutes produced by India Bouldin, at North Lawndale College Prep High School with Free Spirit Media. Black women in history have always been seen in a negative light and it affects how Black women interact with each other as well as how society’s perceives Black women. After you watch this film ask yourself; Why is this a problem? Why isn’t this ever discussed? How does this affect me? What can I do to help young women around me feel good about themselves?

Anti-Intellect is a Washington, DC based essayist, educator, and activist. His intellectual activism, rooted in feminist analysis, focuses on redressing racism, sexism, homophobia, and bringing attention to the oppressive nature of theism. He can be found on Twitter @Anti_Intellect Facebook and The Anti-Intellect Blog. He is a graduate of Florida A&M University, a Historically Black College, with a degree in History.

Media Diversified is a 100% reader-funded, non-profit organisation. Every donation is of great help and goes directly towards sustaining the organisation.



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9 thoughts on “Dark-Skinned Black Women Are IN!

  1. Ah, this brings back memories….I saw plenty of remarkably attractive Black women back in college, from dark to light. Several of them, I was interested in dating. The problem was that they all seemed to dislike lighter-skinned men. I’d always heard, “go away, White boy!”, or the somewhat less hostile version, “I’m attracted to darker-skinned men.” I eventually figured out that what they seemed to really want was Bobby Brown / Ice Cube / Jay-Z type, and among the lighter-skinned guys, you had to be into the gangsta-hip-hop thing, which I am not. So, I got the hint and stopped asking Black women out. I’m now dating a White woman who likes me for me, color and all, and she’s great.


  2. Loved your post. Overcoming stereotypes of beauty can not only be hard but sometimes impossible in white supremacist culture we live. No matter how comfortable one feels in her skin, the moment one gets exposed to lighter skinned, good figured or sharp feautured women, insecurity creeps in. We are surrounded with images of perfect women and at time feel pressurized to conform to the ideals. A revolution is much awaited!!


  3. Being a mixed-race male raised on two continents, I’ve been thinking racial tinged perceptions for a while.. in one country you’re called white and black in the other, yet the only time I didn’t seem to be a foreigner was in a country I had no parental ties to! The vicissitudes of life can sometimes mess with your identity, I can’t imagine what it’s like for a woman to be told she’s everything but feminine or beautiful. Sometimes we get so caught up fighting against, we forget what we’re fighting for. Equal rights doesn’t automatically mean equal status, the system may not be favourable but unless you’re born clutching a golden spoon, status must be earned. That being said, here’s my take on the matter, with my um.. peppy alter-ego (written in part as a reminder for myself 🙂

    This is a serious issue! We gotta fix this quick!!
    1. It starts with childhood. When considering having a child think about their needs too. It might improve your world, but what skills can you give them for dealing with their world?
    2. Be careful to notice the good in your children, and spend less time criticizing them.

    Actually, who cares about them stupid kids? If I really gave a damn I would adopt one that exists already instead of having 5 of my own!
    3. Ok, get a proper education. Well educated people tend to be less influenced by fleeting fashionable motifs.
    4. Create culture; don’t merely consume. Don’t be surprised when you are dissatisfied with your self-image when you are absorbed by society’s most fickle representations. Pop videos and advertising billboards are the worst ways to inform one’s identity.
    5. Do, observe, correct. True self-esteem comes from self-mastery, not only a way of walking or having snappy come backs. That being said the charisma of African-American men is quite admirable.

    Gurls got swag too!
    6. Know thyself. Not every woman is photogenic or even physically desirable, but a woman is much more than an just an attractor of male lust. You probably have a lovely voice, a great sense of humour, an inspiring walk or something you do that makes the world a better place. Love yourself, desirable and undesirable parts; respect yourself and someone worth your time will love them too.
    7. Get over yourself. The girls in the video clip had some discomfort with the term “red bone”. Nobody likes to be reduced to a label, we would all like to think we are mysterious multidimensional creatures (hence the appeal of New Ageism), but get a sense of humour.. Name-calling with strangers is dumb, but then if a guy establishes a respectful rapport forgive the occasional lascivious appellation, not all guys are wordsmiths.
    8. Be careful about your confusing means and ends. Do you want to change the media to portray women better, or do you want to better the lives of women so they become real examples of virtue? (Cherish the bond with your mother she’s probably the greatest source of strength you can ever have, even in absence.)

    So you mean, like I gotta read books and shit?
    9. Get your nails “did”.. wear your hair however you feel comfortable.. We are visual creatures, go ahead and improve your assets by all means. My point is: quit obsessing about the physical. Checking yourself out in the glass shop displays compulsively is neither attractive nor necessary. And yeah, some books can actually add more value to your life than say an Indian weave. The world has enough musicians, sportsmen and graphic designers; try your hands at science, maths and other “hard” subjects. If you don’t get excited by abstract ideas, that’s ok, but don’t be put off by the limiting standards of coolness, or a lack of relatable role models in those areas.
    10. Transcend your role. You’ll be able to relate to more people and experience more of life if you learn to see yourself beyond the character of “young black female”. Consuming solely “for us by us” culture is good to a point, but experiment a little bit – check out what the Buddhist kids in your class are into.. follow a blog written by a pasty middle class college nerd.. if you’re feeling adventurous make small talk with the terrorists next door! If you want people to be less prejudiced against you maybe you could go out on a limb and start the process. We’re in this together.


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