Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Fade to Black

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You would think that I wouldn't have to talk about this. . .

Is there still a pervasive, subconcious attitude that exists regarding skin complextion, hair textures, and the like? Are these projections introduced in early childhood development, and then ultimately cemented in our adolescent stages?

Have both our darker and lighter halves suffered the consequences of the skin they are in, either made to believe that one or the other is superior, subject to each's interpretation of beauty? Or even worse, have they been washed in the skin cycle of being ashamed of their lighter/darker persuasions to the point where it affect all that is around them, up to and including choosing a mate to, shall we say, even things out a bit? Are hair textures (AKA "Good Hair") still secretly envied and desired or straight lusted after?

That which might solidify our classic model of what is idenfitied as beautiful. Are there built in sterotypes that wreak havoc in our lives from day one. I remember one time a friend and I did an experiment (early nineties, y'all), and we noticed that in many of the videos, that they would show the asses of the darker girls, and the faces of the lighter ones. . .Whether or not this has changed significantly from those days, I couldn't tell you.

In this Post Imitation of Life phase of our culture, what do we expect when it comes to beauty. Certainly, during the early part of the 20th century, passing became a phenomenon that was partially survival, partial choice. Carol Channing has recently admitted her paternal black parentage. . . It is even rumored that Dinah Shore has black parentage, that which she never confirmed NOR denied. (If you haven't seen the A & E biography on her, treat yourself).

Sure, we are all aware that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but what are the specific criterias associated with it, and how many people (excluding these intelligent readers, of course) use improper measurement criterias? We can't act as if it never happened, and, with that said:


Would India Arie, both artist and Musician, be as popular as Alicia Keys, be MORE popular and/or lavished with more mainstream acclaim (mainstream) if they she had 'it'?

Would Beyonce, Alicia Keys, et. al, be the toast of the town if they weren't?

But the inverse had happened with our brothers. . .Would so many of our lighter leading men (Giancarlo Esposito, Mel Jackson) had more 'urban' appeal if their skin textures were more of the Denzel, Wesley, Don Cheadle Flavor?

There are SO MANY schools of thought. There is a difference between having an authentic preference for things, versus having discriminatory tastes (whether it's for the darker or lighter persuasion).

Some examples:

There is a brother that I used to date, he was growing up during the era where light skin-ded green eyed Reggie Theus, Phillip Micheal Thomas brothers were the ones (subject to interpretation) that were bringing sexy back. He is VERY attractive, darker complexioned man; however, teenage women wouldn't give him the time of day. He, in turned, himself began to prefer the lighter persuasion as a way to prove himself 'worthy', if I may, to the less melanin enhanced population.

On the flip side, I have a friend who has the classic 'light skin, brown curly hair' who has, over the course of her entire lifetime, attempted to make up for that, by sitting in the sun as a child, choosing darker men to date (and marry), because she never enjoyed valued the skin she was in.

I also have a friend that goes ballistic when someone compliments someone from the lighter persuasion, and she goes into Drill Seargeant Mode, asking why they said that, and she always alludes to someone saying that only because that person was light. She also goes out of her way to talk about how everyone loves her complexion. (Which, I think, is TMI).

Fortunately, I was able to escape the madness of the time. I fit somewhere in the 'middle', for lack of a better word.
The picture above is of Carol Channing.

But, back to the lecture at hand. . . Are we still perpetuating these types of ideologies in early adulthood, either with melanin issues or hair? Does it matter? Do you see it? Or am I imagining it? Have we grown out of this, or have we stunted our growth, only perpetuating it in other ways?


Cool AC said...

What's up girl!

Yes this still goes on. As one of the light ones I still here all the jokes, you know "light bright damn near white" jokes. And honestly I'm sick of it. There is nothing I can do about my skin color. (Believe me I have tried, you know I'm always tanning. But still I'm classified as a light skin girl) If I make jokes about how black as night people are or how they always look ashy. How do you think they would take that? Oh, but I'm not "allowed" to say those things in my defense, not even as the jokes people are allowed to make toward me. I have to laugh it off and suck it up. I know there is nothing they can do anout their skin color, so I don't say anything and I think I deserve the same respect. Not to mention, we are ALL the SAME as far as sterotypes are concerned when looked at by the non-blacks.

Great post!

P said...

At the AC:

That is the VERY reason why I mentioned the challenges that BOTH the lighter AND darker persuasion have to encounter.

Because it runs on energy from both ends of the color spectrum.

It does.

chele said...

I hope we are not doing anything to perpetuate it further. It's ridiculous.

We're all Black.

Unfortunately, I see how we are sometimes treated differently and it drives me nuts. Mainly because I see it amongst ourselves.

I used to work with a lady (brown-skinned) who said that Wesley was "too black". I'm like, what? This chick hated all things white but couldn't be around people that were too black, and thought that light-skinned folks were too conceited. I think she just hated everybody.

The Phoenix aka ThatGirlTam said...

Ok I'm mad that the picture is Carol Channing and I didn't know that. She looks TOTALLY black to me in that picture, but I would've never known that by the way I remember seeing her old crusty lookin ass with that mushroom hair and big lips.

P said...

@ Miss New Booty on the Job - AKA that girl Tam. . .

Girl yeah, click on the link when you can and check out the picture of DINAH Shore. On the A & E bio, there is a picture of her looking as black as me. Hair all black and stuff.

Hey - fair exchange, no robbery - I won't ask why you were up at midnight and you don't have to ask me why I'm up at the crack.

Sidebar: Today is Miss Altonette's birthday.

T. Cas said...

I think I subconsciously used to perpetuate it. Pretty much all of my adult girlfriends have been darker than me. It never was a conscious decision to say, "let me date the darker sistas", but I think somewhere in the back of my mind, I was trying to even it out as you said.

princessdominique said...

Great post and thanks for stopping by. I mean, it still goes on and while I don't hate when my lighter counterparts get complimented, I do watch how some men interact with women of a darker complexion. If you love beauty then it should have absolutely nothing to do with hue. Yes we have preferences, however, the heart is colorless.

Charles said...

I don't know what it is...but I think it's still going on. I know for me...I'm not gonna lie...more of the females that I find attractive are on the lighter side of the spectrum...but there are alot of darker females who are attractive as hell too. I guess it's like society just engrains this vision in your mind when you're younger, and it grows and festers to a point where you don't even realize what you're doing anymore. Its kinda sad that this is still relevant though...

Dee said...

yes it still goes on......sad but true!!!!

yes i'm alive.......hope all is well with you!!!!

Lāā said...

I would like to believe that we are getting out of this...but reality is different from my thoughts. I have been told by many men that they have chosen to approach me because they prefer lighter complected women (whatever!).

Growing up, my sister who is much darker than I, was always told how pretty she was. Me on the other hand I was always told how smart I was and never thought of as being cute. Looking back, I think that maybe the adults around us were trying to combat the stereotype that exists and boost my sister's self-esteem or maybe it was just the truth. I'll never know.

Amadeo said...

Hell yeah this still goes on. This comes from a brother who went throught the "Darker the Berry Years" mumbling that my juice was sweet too. Now I'm less troubled cause I got darker over the years and I'm comfortable with my Mocha Latte Complexion. People still avoid dark skinned women, people still say light skinned men are out (pending a Terrance Howard takeover). I will say that folks from India go through the same thing. Too illustrate the depth...I had a client that didn't pick up his last check with us for months cause it was summer time and he said he didn't want to get dark...when black people don't come get their money you know it runs deep.

P said...

@ Amadeo:

LMAO@ the Terence Howard takeover.

I found out from one of my friends that the blond, fairer latinos are very desired in Mexico; and one of the reasons that Salma Hayek came out here is because her darker beauty is not favored. How much truth of that is known I don't know. But hey, probably true, considering every one mostly out there is olive and dark haired. . .

BUT if you look at the latino channels, many of the soap opera BIG stars are that out on the channels are VERY Blond.

Look at Jessica Alba and Jennifer Lopez. They are getting blonder and blonder with every waking moment. So, with that said above, that would be to no surprise.

sherri said...

Yes, it still exists and probably always will. And yes, we are our own worst enemy.

It not only exists in Black culture but Hispanic, Indian, Asian, The Caribbean... I mean, just check out Brazil?? Maybe we can generalize and say that it exists in any culture has been "colonized" or exploited by Europeans.

Unfortunately, Black people run the range of colors -- from Ultra White to Coal and we still can't cope. My family laughs about this story but it really is a little sad.
I have a cousin who is lighter,(white). He was about 3 and walking on the beach with our aunt(brown). Shoes off. He wanted to know why her feet were brown and his were white. She went through background, said Black people come in all different colors, etc... we're all the same. You know. He listened to her and told her: "That's ok auntie. One day you're feet will be white like mine".

He laughs about it now, but where he picked that up??? Who knows. I don't think we can help it.

Miss Ahmad said...

colonialism is a beast!

we had a house in mexico growing up and the color lines in puerto vallarta was as strong there as they were in east oakland. there were blonde hair blue eyed mexicans, and ones dark as me. you just guess who was where in the sociatal pecking order.

my mother's family are all pretty fair. we think her grandmother was white but passing as black since she was married to a black man she didn't wanna get hung. she never spoke one lick of english in her life, only french german...

the yellow folks in my family have been fighting since day one. being picked on for having funny colored eyes, skin or hair was par for the course for many of them..sadly so.

it's a sad state of affairs that we still have to put up with this madness. i watch the attention my cousin's with fair skin and blues eyes get versus their cousins with darker skin and coarse hair and it's sickening.

i like being brown...but then again i ain't never been anything else. although it's disheartening to hear your own family member tell you, well you dark but at least you got nice features!

damn damn damn colonialism!

j said...

Miss P...great post!!!!

I agree with Miss Ahmad. Damn colonialism!...it was the simple fact that it was the "white man" that colonized and basically founded what is now known as "civilization" first than any other culture, that has created these stereotypes. What they viewed as beautiful became the accepted norm and all else was considered inferior. It makes me wonder, what if the Salvadoreans had colonized first or the Africans or the Samoans?....what is now viewed as beautiful may be dark skin or heavy-set frames...who knows....maybe then light skin may have been considered inferior and it would be those with lighter skin that would be bringing up these issues in their blogs........

Truth is, that the human wants to perpetuate their own set of genes (yes, this is the scientist/evolutionist in me speaking). People of a certain color (brown, yellow, black, pink, etc... do (for the most part subconsciously) desire in a mate those traits that are viewed as beautiful within their own culture. By being attracted to these traits, and intermingling their genes...they help propagate the purity of that species (or culture). Don't get me wrong, I don't say this as a racist or anything, I am the first to agree that interracial mixing is better for the human species to encourage genetic diversity...but don't you think there is some truth to wanting to keep the purity our culture alive...???

As open minded as we are....are we somehow, by being so proud of our own cultures....blinding our children to the simple fact that there is beauty in other cultures as well.....

P said...

The Glam:

Once again on point. Which is exactly why I brought up one, different cultures, and two the angst and pain that is felt and experienced, NO Matter what complexion you are. . .


Ever the scientist bringing in her philosophicizing perspective.

Thank you for lurking 90 percent of the time, and speaking 10 percent of the other. And J, of COURSE I know that you do not speak from a racist perspective. You are an El Savadorian woman with a British Boyfriend, and has even looked blushingly at a few brothers, so NOW.

P said...


Jaimie said...

Yes, it still exists.