Are black women ugly or is it racism that makes them seem so?

kmaudelI think black women are beautiful. To a degree that is just a preference of mine that not all men can be expected to share. I understand that and have no trouble with it. But in America it seems to go beyond  just that: people’s racism makes black women seem uglier than they truly are.

It is not just white people either. Many blacks see light skin and long, straight hair as beautiful. What does that say about dark-skinned women with short, natural hair? And what can “You’re pretty for a dark-skinned girl” possibly mean?

Wendi Muse has a great article on Racialicious about how race is different in Brazil than it is in America. She is a light-skinned black American who teaches English in Brazil. Her students keep telling her she is not black – her skin is too light. Shopkeepers seem to agree: in Brazil she is never followed.

Among many other differences she noticed this:

I am pursued romantically and openly considered attractive by people of many different races. …  I cannot say the same with regards to my experience living in the United States.

She looks the same in both countries, yet because in one country she is not seen as “black” she is more desirable to men than she is in the other country where she is seen as black. It is not the woman or her looks that have changed, just her race – and the racism that is applied to her.

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1,199 Responses

  1. on Fri Jun 5th 2009 at 10:42:12 mynameismyname

    You find the greatest pics of beautiful black women! Another score!

    Very interesting angle. Of course, the image of “blackness” drives the distorted and noxious view that renders black women in the Western world as “ugly”. What else would it be?

    Yet, one can play the devil’s advocate and wonder why black men are seen as being so desirable? What do black men have that black women don’t? Why aren’t black men held up to Eurocentric standards of attractiveness in the Western world?

    Also, Wendi’s commentary shows how fluid the social concept of “race” is. In Latin America, racial classifications tend to be driven more by skin shade and phenotype than genealogy.


  2. I ponder this question from time to time as well. I personally find black women to be beautiful. I love their full lips, the soft shape of their nose, their curvy figures, their interesting hair, their silken skin. Pretty much everything about their physiognomy. At this point in life I have been dating and/or married to BW for so long that my attraction is no longer a part of conscious thought. In fact, if I do find myself thinking that the occasional white or Asian or Latino woman seems attractive, that thought feels exotic and unfamiliar. Thus, I am often surprised when I hear a white person (more often a WW than a WM, by the way) comment that (s)he doesn’t find BW to be beautiful or, in some instances, that (s)he thinks BW are ugly (which I rarely hear since most of the white people I know are aware that my wife is black and they are too polite to say that to my face even if they believe it). This seems incomprehensible to me.


  3. abagond,
    Thanks for addressing this very relevant and important topic. As an Afrolatina born and raised in the U.S. I am very familiar with the racial classification “games” that are played in both the U.S. and Latin America. I have seen women from the SAME FAMILY (and racial background)be treated differently in the relationship world based SOLELY on the tone of their skin. The darker or more Black a woman APPEARS to be the more her (brand of Black) beauty is discriminated against in Latin America and the U.S.

    This obvious ANTI-BW RACISM/HATE that attacks the HUMANITY, DIGNITY, AND FEMININTY OF BW is/has negatively affected the quality of BW’s relationship lives for years and it needs to be DESTROYED.

    There is/has NEVER been ANYTHING WRONG with BW’S beauty. What is/has been wrong is the ANTI-BW RACISM/HATE that is/has been practiced in American and Latin American cultures.


  4. on Fri Jun 5th 2009 at 19:29:38 lifeisannoying

    When i go to the country in the caribbean that my family hails from, it’s like my race is invisible, the fact that i’m black isn’t an issue, i’m desirable and sexy and i feel better and i carry myself better.
    Back in england, some men treat me like a leper, i am always sure that i am just as attractive, it’s just the odds are against me in england and in my favour in the caribbean.

    The country my faily is from is part of the English speaking caribbean, 80%plus of the populus is black or black mixed. our minorities are dark skinned mainly as well, east indians, caribs (yes they are still alive), and arabs. And a smattering of white people


  5. on Fri Jun 5th 2009 at 19:35:06 lifeisannoying

    Oh and btw, i think being the majority of the populus helps a great deal. being a minority , it is easier to be marginalised and despised.

    Also you have to remember the weight of history represents a white woman as the ultimate form of femininity, that was done by casting white womanhood as the polar opposite of black womanhood, who was portrayed as sexually incontinent, lascivious, etecetera.

    they were cast as ying and yang, as the white woman was deathly white in complexion and that was the most desirable, then truely the opposite was the deep darkness of the black womans hue and that was to be loathed and disdained.

    phew…. my 2 cents on the constructs of “beauty”


  6. @ lifeisannoying.

    I’ve found the same happens to me also. I feel like royalty in the carribbean..in the Uk its like…nah!


  7. Unfortunately, I believe what the “HUMAN” eye finds ATTractive are Features that are delicate thinner ie. like a slender nose and Things that are symmetrical–the more a person’s face deviates from the symmetry the less attractive they appear. Good example is the Fiona character on Shrek she became ugly when her features became broad.

    Well, many BLAck Women have BROad features no fault of their own, this why BW tend to get nose jobs. From my own exp. I’ve heard I’m “cute to be brown-skinned” comment, maybe because of my facial features.

    This is why I think BLack Beauty has less to do with skin color (ie. light vs. dark) and more to do with facial features. Top models Naomi Campbell, Jessica White & others proves this point.


  8. jodee you are an idoit. slender features like a slender nose and no lips make you look old and prunish and just plain scagg nasty. you are too brainwashed. fiona from shrek might be goodlooking to someone else especially if they werent brainwashed by white supremacy like you. child you need help.


  9. on Sat Jun 6th 2009 at 05:00:51 DaliSalvadorAde

    Jodee, it is that mindset that make black women hate their beautiful features. Its the thought of thin faces, thin noses, straight hair that has permeated (and tainted) our minds.
    It took me YEARS to embrace my beauty; because even though when I look at pictures of when I was younger, I always think I was a very beautiful black girl…but guess what? That wasn’t what I was told. I was told that my skin was too dark, my hair too coarse, my nose too wide, my cheek bones too high…so much trash and rubbish, that I thought myself ugly. I genuinely did; there was a time in my life that I wished I was multiracial just to get away from the jeers and attacks, and your comment reinforces the disgusting things transferred in the minds of young black girls.
    NO GIRL SHOULD be made to feel like she’s ugly, but sadly so many of our little girls feel that way. And trust me, it takes a lot of strength to shake that off, and some women still don’t. I can’t even say that I am completely comfortable in my own skin. But I am learning to love and embrace my beauty, you should help other black sisters do the same thing.


  10. She is right. its the huge noses and gnarly hair thats the big turnoff.


  11. on Sat Jun 6th 2009 at 05:23:55 DaliSalvadorAde

    nohubes…I doubt you need to be recognized. Your comment portrays the kind of person you are very well.


  12. Rihanna has a broad nose and she’s considered very beautiful by men of all races.


  13. nohubes and jodee aka dumb and dumber:
    jodee: the science of beauty has nothing to do with whether your features are broad or narrow. The symmetry of your face is how close you are to phi, period. You can have the widest nose/lips on the face of the earth and as long as the portions on your face are symmetrical, you would be relatively close to phi and still beautiful, so you’re wrong with that. nohubes, you’re an idiot period.


  14. i always struggled with my hair moreso than my skin tone, i fell for the whole “good hair,” nonsense for a while. I always wished I had my dads looser curly hair, which was doted on by everyone. But now after I realized how brainwashed I was, I love my kinky hair and I mean LOVE it. I love the versatility, i love wearing it in braids. I am natural now and I love it. I can do so much with it, some days I wear it in cornrows, some days in twists, twist-outs, some days I just wash-and go or wear an afro. I love pulling on my tight tight kinky hair and looking at teeny-tin