Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Black Women and Sexuality

As a woman of color, I have often wondered how my race and sexuality have affected my life as a whole. When forced to think about the findings, they somewhat border on uncomfortable.

Although I was raised in an urban community, I went to a predominately white private school. I went to school with beautiful blondes and brunettes and their equally stunning, blue-eyed, brown-haired "boyfriends". I was just one of the very few black people in school. At times, it was unsettling and noxious on the way I viewed myself. But back then, in the heart of all private schools, the low ratio of black to white was all I knew. It was normal.

Because of this, I looked at the pale skinned damsels that surrounded me, with their long, flowing hair and their bubbly personalities, and saw that as the epitome of beauty. My hair did not lay flat like theirs, nor my skin that pale. Of course I got this message all around me— remember the Teen magazines and the Clueless movie of our generation (apart from the fabulous Stacey Dash)- its all around us.

Other than the strong black women in my family, I did not have any black role models to look up to. And the ones who did exist, where the supermodels, the movie stars, and the singers- all type casted as the "typical black woman"- angry, bitchy and whorish. Why would I accept them into my life as role models, when society portrayed them as such? I deserved better.

In the crusade of creating an identity to which I was comfortable with amongst my peers- my choices were based on my peers; it was either fit in or be an outcast.

As I got older, this "identity" trickled its way into various areas of my life. I was faced with even more overt reminders that the social standard of beauty favors the pale-skinned, long haired damsels, which of course transformed my sexuality & expression of it.

The first porn I ever watched featured a busty blonde with gorgeous green eyes & perfect skin. The porn was tasteful and sensual. The woman was stunning. Her nipples were pink. I "identified" with her; I identified with that kind of societal accepted beauty. And I than later I had my belief system challenged to the core when I willingly sought out a porn film that starred black women. These black women were being objectified before my eyes, diminished to voluptuous asses and chocolate skin against the backdrop of white penises.

I didn't find their excessive expression of their sexuality beautiful, sensual or tasteful. I found it degrading and humiliating. The black women’s beauty was merely a fetish. I watched as they gyrated, made it "clap" and whipped their cheap, waist-length weaves from side to side, and felt deeply horrified.

I thought. Is this is what I look like? Is that how I am viewed?

And so began my real battle with self-acceptance and the long, hard journey of coming face to face with the me who I want to be.

Until the universal assumption of beauty shifts dramatically, until both men and women from all ethnical backgrounds are celebrated in the mainstream, until we have a surfeit of powerful role models amongst our own unique ethnical culture, the struggle will continue.

The hardest part about this is that I’ve had to reteach myself how to be unconventionally beautiful & sexual. No longer could I rely on what blonde Cosmopolitan covergirls or svelte supermodels were parading before my face. I had to find my own way. I had to redefine the perception of beautiful that I was constantly being bombarded with. This is still quite challenging in a world where the skinny blonde woman is seen as the absolute epitome of sexy.

In the last year, I have started owning up to the lies that were bestowed upon my impressionable mind during my youth.

I am learning to have utter awareness of for my heritage (starting with going natural and catapulting into new state of consciousness). I have sought out women of my color to look up to, finding them in the strangest of places, from Tumblr accounts that celebrate the diversity & gorgeousness of black women to the uber-confident women that crowd the streets of Manhattan. I have worshiped my own body, my supple curves, my caramel skin, my round rump. I have danced seductively to honor my sexuality.

This kind of reconditioning is never ending. Until the day I die I will always be reminded that I do not fit the standard mold of beauty. Truth be told, a lot of us don't- so why do we allow it to define us?

The assumed conventioneer expression of attractiveness bores me. I now relish in the fact that I stand amongst a tribe of unique, abnormal, alternative beauties, with kinky hair, chocolate skin, & otherworldly exotic features.

Instead of feeling sorrow for not fitting in, I feel unadulterated joy for standing out [round rump and all].

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