I recently got word of an upcoming film called “Dark Girls” (thanks Robert Pierre), and the reaction to the film has seemed so strong that I almost felt obligated to chime in on the conversation.
The gist of the film is that there is still a deep-seated bias and negative attitude about beauty toward dark-skinned black women. Most black folks are aware of the divisions that have been created in our community because of slavery and the construct of race, which tries to place a value on skin color and causes all kinds of frictions among men and women (“Looks like light-skinned brothas are coming back…” You’ve heard them all before.).
I spoke to two of my aunts about the film, and they shared their experiences of being treated differently because of their darker skin.
I’m sure most people have also heard about the article evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa published in Psychology Today in May titled, “Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?” You already know how that one ended.
I asked some of my Facebook people for their thoughts on the film, and the response I got from one of my former Cal classmates was so on point that I wanted to share it in its entirety. From April Brown:
Many cultures have similar issues with darker skin tones being undesirable, and while I do think this is an interesting topic to explore I hope the conversation is not about Dark skinned girls V.S. Light skinned girls, because we truly don’t need any further division. The last comment about the lack of a Black Community as a result of lack of language and other cultural aspects is what I would like to hear a dialogue about, and how this void is being filled by others who do not have our best interest at heart.
April also added:
and something else came to mind after thinking about this for awhile. Why is it a “popular belief” that lighter skinned women are more attractive, but not that lighter skinned men are more attractive. Is it just because in society at large women are judged based on beauty and men are judged by other criteria? I really can’t think of many women I know who prefer a lighter skinned man for any reason other than having children who have hair with a loosened curl pattern?
I’m sure that when it comes out, this film will bring out a lot of deep-rooted emotional pain. But let me repeat the comment I made after I first saw the preview of this film, just to make a point here.
I know this is an issue in our community and in America, but it’s still unfortunate that blackness is still too often viewed as not being beautiful. I never understood that. My grandma always taught me that there are 21 shades of blackness, and we’ve got a lot of them in my family. So I have never associated beauty with skin color, although I guess many people still do that.
The issue for me here is this: why are we focusing so much on these skin color extremes when the real battles are outside of our community? It seems like this film is more about the problem with black relationships (i.e. marriage, dating, raising our kids). If we’re talking about real issues in the black community, I think a bigger issue is this thing of being black enough (something I’ve had personal experience with, even though both of my parents are black [I actually have had to explain that to people]).
Or perhaps the bigger and more important issue is just self-esteem and mental health (check out allhiphop.com).
Either way, it seems like there are just too many people who haven’t heard enough about what the Bible already tells us: that we’re fearfully and wonderfully made.