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.