The ‘Exotic Woman’ Fetish

May 3, 2011  |  



Exotic (a term synonymous with peculiar, extraneous, fascinating and kinky) is the current buzz word in beauty; but, what does it really mean? What exactly do men mean when they say they are attracted to exotic girls?

My thoughts are directed to the Brazilian bombshell Adriana Lima. With long, dark hair, tanned skin, full lips and bright bluish-green eyes, her striking appearance is obviously the result of race-mixing. She has a look that is very different from true standard perceptions of beauty. Thus, she is considered to be exotic by many—which seems to have a positive connotation.

According to Psychology Today article “What Is Exotic Beauty?” racial microaggressions researchers suggest otherwise:

“Simply stated, microaggressions are brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to people of color because they belong to a racial minority group. These exchanges are so pervasive and automatic in daily interactions that they are often dismissed and glossed over as being innocuous,” (p. 72).

They found numerous common themes concerning methods of racial microaggressions:

One example is inscription of intelligence. A hypothetical offense would include asking an Asian person for help with math. Another theme is colorblindness, and would include the belief that America is a melting pot; the problem with this supposition is that an individual’s unique cultural experiences are denied, with the assumption that they will take on the dominant culture… There is of course one of the most common microaggressions: denial of individual racism. For example, it would be akin to me stating, “I’m not racist toward Mexicans. I’m friends with two of them.”

Therefore, when a woman is labeled an exotic beauty, she is essentially being categorized as an “other.” Other than what? The set of standards that define true beauty. She is somehow beautiful without being “beautiful.”

Nevertheless, physical appearance is not the only player when it comes to men and exotic women. Much of the allure is rooted in a concentrated number of personal experiences and stereotypes. This is especially true in findings regarding the Asian fetish, a phrase ascribed to white men who serial date east Asian women. Korean-American Bitna Kim conducted a quantitative analysis in which she interviewed non-Asian males and their perceptions of Asian women. The study revealed the stereotypes were mostly positive. Interviewees felt Asian women were intelligent, educated, successful, family-oriented and attractive.

Kim also noted that, while almost all of the men began with a sentence negating Asian women as submissive, they all mentioned how in some way or the other they were, in fact, submissive. The analysis shed light on the broad, sweeping assumptions made about Asian women—the most shocking being the number of non-Asian males with Asian female fantasies who viewed them as sexually subservient. So, it is not surprising that a study by multicultural researcher Derald Wing Sue, found several instances where Asian women were exoticized and sexualized; and, it was interpreted by nearly all members of the focus group (of Asian women) that Asian women are only needed to meet the physical needs of White men, nothing more. Still, that has not stunted the growth of White male/Asian female unions as White men are perceived to be powerful and dominant.

With that in mind, the same could be said in regard to white men and black women, that they are only interested in them because of sexual stereotypes associated with exoticness—that black women are jaded by the idea of white. So, do white men who date black women have a “black fetish?” Or do they just appreciate blackness the same way it is possible for them to appreciate women of the Orient?

The research implies that an attraction and desire for someone other than us is based on microaggressions and false perceptions; thus, questioning the occurrence of true love interracially. Yet, no one attributes a man’s infatuation with blondes to such. Nor do we ascribe the title to a black man who likes white women.

Essentially, we are all exotic in that interracial relationships involve a sexual attraction to someone of the “other,” and not without stereotypes.  So, why do we only attach this particular prejudice when it applies to women other than white?

LaShaun Williams is a lifestyle and relationship advice columnist and blogger. Her work has been featured on popular urban sites, such as The Grio, and she has made appearances on the Tom Joyner Morning Show and Santita Jackson Show. She is also the founder of Politically Unapologetic, where she unabashedly discusses pop culture, life and love. Follow @itsmelashaun on Twitter or visit her on Facebook.

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  • Bryan J. Maloney

    The assumption behind the attribution is that white women are the highest “value”, thus, there must be an “ulterior” motive for a relationship with a non-white woman.

  • tom pnoid

    Idk i guess its my upbringing that makes me like a different type of women i got a thing for native american women. I hate a woman who bows to me i prefer my equal

  • Harley

    I agree. it’s a term people (often racists) use as a compliment towards non-white women simply for not being white (as if that’s what exotic means!), then these same people throw a fit if you dare point out how exotic-looking a white woman is. truth be told, seldom few if any nonwhite ladies in Hollywood called exotic actually are (Beyonce, J.Lo, Aiswarya Rai, etc.) but I see plenty of unusual looking white women getting overlooked- Jennifer Carpenter, Taylor Swift, Cate Blanchett, Karolina Lurkova, Doutzen Kroes, even Audrey Hepburn.

  • Jfreeze

    I agree with the last part especially. If someone dates a non-white, then they have some sort of fetish? That’s some racist stuff. I’m white, so I’m only normal if i date white girls? I’ve had meaningful relationships with white, middle eastern, and Asian women, and though I’ve never dated a black girl, I have been attracted to many black women going back to a young age. Women are women, and personality matters more than race. Race does inform who we are, so that plays a big role, but I don’t see why we try to wall ourselves off from other races when it comes to relationships. Love who you love and be attracted to who you’re attracted to. Plus a multi-racial gene pool has got to be good for humanity

  • Attraction is based on genetic health. When we look at someone, smell, taste them, we are receiving subconscious information about the likelihood of producing genetically healthy offspring, who are not as prone to disease, or mental or physical handicaps. Our bodies are even wired to disinterest ourselves sexually from closely related family, as such unions often produce weaker children. Studies have suggested that people of mixed race are overall healthier, because of their diverse gene pool . Therefore I would deduce the term “exotic” refers to men or women of mixed race, offering an opportunity to escape diseases and abnormalities that plague those of “purer” decent. By no means does this apply only or even majorly to black women, but rather to any human being of mixed descent. This being the case, the term “exotic” unless consciously perverted as a slur, is a compliment, a subconscious nod to your healthy and well developed genes. I am a mostly white woman, of Mexican, Native American and Irish heritage, and damn proud to be an exotic beauty <3

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  • Nkeon

    Whenever I hear a woman referred to as being exotic, here in the UK, it is usually because she has features that indicate that she is from Africa, Asia, or Latin America.  Basically, a warmer climate.  I am Nigerian and have been referred to exotic on several occasions.  The most memorable was on a cruise ship and I was talking to an elderly white man and then his wife came over and said to her husband “my friend said that you were over here talking to some exotic looking woman”!  It’s not so much an offensive term but the context seems to involve being referred to as an alien beauty, as you’re so strange you’re beautiful.  It also seems to carry a lot of sexual connotations as well in a fetish sense that I find eerie.

  • Question?

    Brazilian women like Lima are considered exotic because of the racial composition: she is Swiss, African, French and she claims a little Asian too.

  • Dan

    I guess I just don't fit in cause as a white male I always associate exotic as simply different from the standards (longer, wavier hair, unusual eye color, any of that sort of thing) or from a country that you don't know anything about (a cultural unknown where you have to learn as you go if you want to know them). It isn't racism or hostility (micro or otherwise), but it is like being a kid and discovering something new and unexpected. Might be delightful, might end up braincrunchingly incomprehensible, might be awful, but it's like movement in a still area; it attracts the eye and engages the imagination.

  • PrimaDiva

    How sick you are!!!!!! You are nausiating me!!

  • Idy

    I'm an African living in a European country where the average girl has the body structure of a model. The men here like "exotic", but to them that means a Black/Latin female who is skinny (with either a generous bosom or butt, not both). The typical full-figured female will never be seen as attractive. Therefore, the female population spend most of their time & money getting their lips plumped, breasts/butts enlarged, and last but not least, a whole lotta tan.

    • PrimaDiva

      What a waste of black beauty. I dont understand. Why would a beautiful black woman want a white man??? The thought is making me nausious. The white men who want pretty black women are the greasy pasty ones anyway. Who you think you fooling? We know all about this big lie.

      You see very few black women with attractive white men. Face it. Beautiful black women who think that marrying up to a white man is good..let me be the first to tell you…the blue bloods will go for the blue eyed blonds. the white trash ones will go for the pretty black girls because black girls will think that a white man no matter the class, is marrying up..This is a degranged state of mind and a waste of black beauty.!!!!!!!!

  • I will only say human beings are so flawed, I am just happy that God looks at the heart.

  • NEWHAIR5000

    i have to agree with several people,when we hear "exotic"we think of of people from far away lands that are unbelievably beautiful and we desire to be like them or with them.but now in today's world "exotic" now means to be a white women with features of a ANOTHER race.Adriana Lima might have other nationalities running in her blood but over all she is seen as WHITE.and that's why she's loved,she has the model look but at the same time she has what so many white people would kill to have.yet these are the same features that blacks,Latin and Asians have had since the beginning of time,so why is it so hot when a white woman hops on the scene looking like women of other races??why is it they will get plastic surgery to full their lips but a black woman's lips are too big or too ugly??.or maybe a black women can pretty but in a lot of people's minds she can only do that if she's skinny,or if the if she has a white woman's features-pointy or small nose or one of the common reason-she's light yeah it's true women of other races can be pretty that's only if they look white or have the features of a white person.but why is that??i'm black but i have a lot of native American blood in me,also after January i lost a boat load of weight.I'm not too skinny and i even have a little bit of muscle showing too afterward's everyone could see my cheek bones and dimples that i didn't even know that i had.but because of that people who KNEW that I'm black and i consider myself black ,asked if i was mixed and even said i was prettier.i even got the exotic say from friends and even some of my family, but I'm only consider pretty because of my native American blood??the only thing i lost was weight i haven't changed only on the outside but I'm still the same but now I'm pretty and exotic because of weight lose and grandparents of a different races?.i don't get people and i don't understand why people can't just be beautiful regardless of race.why compare?what's the point?

    • PrimaDiva

      This is so disqusting and degrading to hear. Please black women stop the self hate! I am so glad that I know I am black and beautiful and it is because I am pretty. But I do in no way think that I'm prettier bc I have white or inative american blood in me..that is so sick and mentally deranged I'm so sorry I ever even read this!!!!!!! SO SAD.

      " all these black women on here saying I'm only consider(ed) sp pretty because of my native american blood. or so yeah it's true women of other races can be pretty that's only if they look white or have the features of a white person.

  • NM817

    I seem to see more black men dating women who appear to look latina but are actually something else, Kim Kardashian would be a good example. They want to be with something that other than what they're use to, but still have the curves of a black woman. Truth be told to a white man black women are as exotic as it gets. We are nothing like what their use to. In appearance everything about us is different. White men are no longer keeping their interest in us a secret. So instead of hating on brothers that date so called exotic women, we should look to dating men of other races. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Open your minds ladies!

    • R.C.

      There you go!!!!!!

    • Ninja Bob

      "We are nothing like they're used to." Yeah and the first time one of y'all sisters starts with the neck rolling attitude and winds up "missing" or in a wood chipper courtesy of your white man what then?

    • Harley

      what is “curves of a black woman”? all women and men have curves. if you mean a huge butt, just say huge butt. and no, I dont know any white men who consider black women the epitome of exotic. My dad said one of the TLC girls was, but that’s one.

  • ThinkingWoman

    Being exotic is relative; attractiveness is relative as well. In American society, an "ambiguously-raced" woman is exotic. In Sweden, a woman of African descent may be exotic since a common phenotype in Scandinavia and Northern Europe is blonde hair and blue eyes.
    When my classmates and I were visiting Botswana, several of us were told we looked "exotic" and had beautiful eyes to some of the local men. Again, this shows how relative the term exotic is.

    • ghjng

      Exactly. In european countries asian and middle eastern countries the men in these places go absolutely mad over black women(american).

  • Blah, blah, blah! We're all exotic if you ask me. And even though you didn't, brings me to my next point. Check out

  • Eye

    Um no, it's about what you are attracted to. The further you are from American ( in this case I am referring to American men), the more intrigued a man is to you. DUH. It's like the same high school argument – the pretty girls get the pretty boys.

  • K.K

    I think when people say that a woman looks exotic, it is because they cannot look at her and place where she could be from. None of her features look like whatever stereotype they have of what a girl from so and so is meant to look like. I say this because I am a Nigerian girl from many generations of non mixed Nigerians but nobody can ever place me. I get called exotic all the time by people who think all Nigerians are dark with big noses not realising that there are over 300 tribes in Nigeria all speaking different languages with different customs. I get hit on the most by White and Asians. And everybody is always shocked when I tell them where I’m from because of preconceived stereotypes.

    • Idy

      I completely understand & agree with you.

  • It basically people who are or look different from most mainly biracial. Like Tyra Banks, Jesse Williams, Michael Ealy, Rihanna, Sean Paul, Alicia Keys,Blu Cantrell,Leila Arcieri plus more. Most of the times they are dark skin light eyes and long hair.

  • cc

    Innocenttruth your comment is hideously ignorant so much so that I am beyond embarrassed for you .

    • innocenttruth

      And you're in severe denial.

  • innocenttruth

    What is wrong with liking exotic looking women? The fashion industry currently promotes the "ethnically ambiguous" look to sell and promote their designs. According to People magazine, ethnically mixed Americans are considered the most beautiful people. The authors attempt to promote white blondes as the ideal beauty standard is incorrect. When compared to high fashion and print photography modeling, white blondes are not the ideal standard. People need to stop trying to make this a serious issue. Men across all racial and social-economic lines enjoy beautiful exotic looking women. Black women like to claim Stacey Dash as one of their "own", but she herself has admitted to her "exotic" beauty. And I most certainly agree people cross racial lines because of sexual fetishes. White men will date black women because of the Jezebel stereotype. Bob fully expects Shaneka to be a stone cold freak. He wants her because she has a large buttocks and he wants to experience what she can do with it. Black men dating non black women cannot be attributed strictly to a sexual fetish. Brothers want non black women because they are promoted as being non combative and cooperating. Men who date outside the race never say that black females are not attractive. Their argument is consistently that black women are argumentative and combative.

    • Eye

      and WTF is wrong with cooperation in a relationship?

      • innocenttruth

        Can you elaborate?

    • Stopthe lies

      that white women are less combattive than black women is a complete stereotype. About a month ago I was driving down a road and came to a stop light. A vehicle pulled up beside me, a black man and a very loud white woman who was fussing so loudly, I had to roll up my window to keeo from hearing their conversation. But "white women are easier to get along with. I also have white sister-in-laws also. trust me it is a stereotype.