By now I’m sure most of you have caught wind of the latest “scientific” study published by “evolutionary psychologist” Satoshi Kanazawa in Psychology Today. Look, I’m not going to bother linking to any reproductions of the article (apparently the negative backlash it received forced the folks on PT to remove it from their site), and honestly, I couldn’t live with myself if I assisted you in murdering brain cells by letting you read it. But I’ll give you a synopsis: The findings of this “study” showed that black women are perceived as less attractive than their white, Asian, and Native American counterparts because, among other reasons, we’re fat mutants who are really just men with vaginas.
Well that’s just great. Not only am I a porker (though most of my white girlfriends are either as big or bigger than me — I guess we fatties just travel in herds), and not only am I severely disfigured by time and genetics, but since my husband and I are virtually indistinguishable, what with our matching scrota and all, I will never be considered the pinnacle of beauty.
You know what? I’m not exactly broken up about this article. Really, if you’re a minority in the United states of America, you’re used to normative standards of beauty not reflecting what you see in the mirror every day. However, I find it unconscionable that these racist and misogynistic positions could be so brazenly presented as gospel under the guise of “science.” This man was obviously uninterested in getting to the root of perceptions of race and beauty and how they really come into being. He was more concerned about maligning an already overly-attacked segment of the population with whom he apparently has a problem. If you want to really delve into why certain groups are perceived as less attractive, you’ll have to look much deeper than testosterone levels. Look at the history of systematic racial oppression that for centuries dehumanized an entire group of people to keep in tact an economic system in which humans were chattel. Look at the xenophobic attitudes that have been perpetuated for years in the name of “national pride.” Look at our messed-up ways of perceiving and demonizing people who aren’t like us because we’re afraid of them. I think you’ll learn a lot more about our perceptions of beauty than you would from examining BMI and hormones.
I take issue with this article because not only is it harmful to black women, but it’s harmful to all women. How long are we going to be held to unrealistic standards of beauty that we can’t and shouldn’t reflect? Regardless of race, according to this brilliant individual, if I have too much around the middle, look a little too funny in the face, or have one too many facial hairs (hey, time and chance happen to us all), then I can just forget about ever turning heads or being validated by society. And as a mother, I am furious for my daughter. We have a First Lady and two stunning young girls in the White House who look like her, and even a flipping Disney princess, for crying out loud — things I didn’t have to validate me when I was her age. Yet, I’m keenly aware that she is still not considered “the norm” when it comes beauty, and until we get rid of the ignorant biases that facilitate “studies” like these, she won’t be. Science should serve to improve the human condition, not wrested to validate some ridiculous prejudices. The last thing I need is a (rather unfortunate-looking) male and his racist agenda &%$#ing up MY daughter’s self-esteem. When it comes to raising her to be a confident black woman, I have too much to contend with as it is!
Come on, folks, it’s 20-freaking-11. Are we still doing this? People magazine just named a Latina the most beautiful woman in the world (and deservedly so). That same list of beautiful people included women of African, Indian, European, and Latin descent who all ranged from sizes 0 to 14. It saddens me that for all the progress we’ve obviously made up to this point, we still have such a discouragingly long way to go.