All Articles Tagged "beauty standards"

Accepting My Big Feet

February 25th, 2015 - By Kendra Koger
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Accepting My Big Feet

Source: Shutterstock

 

When you have siblings, it’s almost a need to try to find ways to differentiate yourself from your kin.  I have two older sisters, and one younger, and I was always compared to them.  On top of that, people always made me feel less, because in a family of lighter toned sisters, I was the only dark one and the shortest.  So, I was thrown into the “cousin” category for strangers and acquaintances whenever they saw us together (“Why is your cousin always with y’all?”).

But, I love my sisters, and I love my dark skin, so it was more so a small annoyance than a life changing complex.  However, I still wanted to one-up them on something!  That day came when we went shoe shopping when I was in about fifth or sixth grade.

Eastlands were the shoes to get that time, and while we all got pretty much the same shoe, but with different tones to them, I was happy when I realized that my feet were bigger than everyone’s (including my mother’s).

The next day at school I puffed my chest out and proudly proclaimed my 7.5 sized foot.

After that, I don’t think I really thought about my feet that much.  They were there, they helped me to move, march (I was in marching band in high school), and I always had really cute shoes.

It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college, when I was at my job at the Main Stacks library that I thought about them again.  I was getting an order of books when a woman who was in the elevator with me started yelling while pointing at my feet.  I was scared that there was some type of bug or rodent around my feet, so I started screaming as well, while trying to climb on top of the assistance bar.

After asking asking/yelling:  “What?!  What’s wrong?!”  She finally answered.

“It’s your feet!  They’re so huge!”

By that time my feet were a healthy 9.5, and it caught me off guard because that day I was wearing a cute pair of knock off Pumas (the Bakers’ kind) that were actually a size 8.  So to think that if I took the shoe off, and for my feet to unfold like a rewound version of the Wicked Witch of the East’s feet under Dorthy’s house, how would she react then?

I thought I could mentally recover, but after we got back to the main floor, she brought one of her friends to the checkout counter and asked me to show her friend the size of my feet.

At that moment I felt incredibly insecure.  How could something that I felt so proud about a few years ago, bring so much shame in a single elevator ride?  But it did.  I began mentally dissecting what was wrong with my feet.  Was it the fact that I’m really short, so my feet stick out like boats in front of me?  Was it the style of shoes I chose?  Were the shoes too audacious, and brought too much attention to them?

I’d never obsessed about my feet more than I did in those days.  They were big, they were Flintstone-ish, but at the end of the day they were mine, and that’s what I had to come to terms with.

How could I hate something that literally brought me to where I am now?  That helped me run, jump double dutch, dance, and walk to where ever I wanted to go?  How could I dissect something that was so stable, was my literal foundation, and allowed me to maneuver my path in life?

I couldn’t.  My long feet helped make me who I am, not just physically, but mentally.  They were the first inclination to me that I could stand out from my sisters, and that I could find something of my own to be proud of.

They were a source of multiple adventures, strength, and had an uncanny appearance to baked potatoes when I was pregnant.  I love these big suckers!

So to you, dear readers, in a time where we obsess over our appearances, and focus on innocuous flaws, I encourage you to love yourself how you are.  If you do decide to change your perceived flaw, do it under the name of improvement, not the guise of misplaced vanity.  Also, don’t allow someone else to usher shame into something that you were so proud of before.  You never know if your “flaw” could be the one thing that could put you a foot above the rest.

Kendra Koger likes to tap dance her size 9.5 feet over to her twitter @kkoger.

What’s So Wrong With Us Seeing Beyoncé’s Pre-Photoshopped Face?

February 20th, 2015 - By Charing Ball
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Image Source: WENN

Image Source: WENN

 

Why is everyone in super defensive mode over the leaked L’oreal pictures of Beyoncé’s pre-photoshopped and untouched face?

I mean I understand the superstar entertainer and her stans are still licking wounds after she stole…er, I mean, borrowed that gospel song from Ledisi for the Grammys and got dragged for sounding like Barry White on it. But really are those pictures such a big deal that they require this much offense?

I mean, it’s not like the pictures are really unflattering. If anything Beyonce without all the filters and good lighting, is still pretty and actually looks perfectly normal. In fact, she probably looks more normal than the images of herself that she passes off as natural.

But let her stans tell it, the internet has shamed Beyoncé. I’m not calling out any folks directly (this time) because there are just too many of you all to quote. However you can pretty much search “Beyoncé leaked pictures” and find a plethora of angry think pieces and tweets from stans, shaming and wishing death upon anyone caught passing the photos around. Hell some stans even called the FBI over the leaked photos.

I get the angst to an extent. All photos are deceptive. Even the ones we take on our personal cameras. We may not have fancy-schmancy editing program; but we do tend to stand in the good light, pose on our good sides, and wear our good makeup and outfits to make us look more “flawless” than what we actually are normally. If some folks are like me, we’ll might even take a dozen or so pictures of ourselves until we find that one “natural” selfie that will do us justice aesthetically. In a sense we are all guilty of not keeping it photogenically 100. So why should we expect anything different from celebrities, particularly ones whose careers are based around keeping up appearances?

But that’s kind of the point. The unnecessary need to keep up appearances and the overall importance we put on beauty, even over other more useful attributes (like brains and skill) seems counter productive. Like the folks who are dismissively asking “why does it matter” and saying things like “everyone has a bad picture” only seems to confirm that there is something legitimately wrong with the pictures even though there isn’t.

Likewise folks, particularly those who write and care about eradicating social ills and empowering impressionable minds, know why untouched photos of celebrities matter. In a world where folks, particularly young people, are not only comparing themselves to these altered images, but doing all sorts of surgery and suffering through all sort of body dysmorphic disorders, the continuation of projecting false images of ourselves is genuinely hurting people. And we can all talk about “loving ourselves” and how proper self-esteem starts with the parents, but some folks weren’t nurtured that way. And some were, but still have trouble seeing themselves through a wall of images and beauty ideals, which have been reinforced by society and counteract everything they grew up believing. Therefore in the interest of healing all of society, we should call more attention to when folks are not being their authentic selves.

Like Beyoncé once said, “pretty hurts.” And the assault on our individual psyche is real. And the insecurity that those assaults create is how the powers that be go about getting all of us to be good consumers to products and services which we really don’t need, including L’oreal makeup. I mean, I can understand if we were talking about removing a blemish or two, but the advertisers literally resized her face so that it was thinner and altered her neck, so we wouldn’t see the normal folds we all have while operating our body like a human being. I mean, who is looking at and judging that child’s neck like that?

Quiet as it’s kept, it’s likely the pressure from many of her stans themselves, which forces Beyoncé to want to be perfect all the time. I honestly believe that some of them are scared to see Bey without the lights and glam as it will ruin the shallow illusion of immortality. Yet most times, it’s her critics who don’t have a problem because we have no problem seeing her as what she truly is: a human being just like the rest of us.

On Female Empowerment: Are We Really Liberated When We Expose Our Bodies?

November 4th, 2014 - By La Truly
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Shutterstock

Shutterstock

 

With so many women declaring that exposing their bodies and casual sex are acts of liberation, a battle cry of sorts for women who want to push back against the tyranny against the female body, I wonder what message we truly want to send to young women and girls? Somehow, in today’s culture, exposing ourselves physically has become synonymous with taking the control back of our bodies, redefining “sexy” and what agency entails. I can’t help but scratch my head in confusion. If feminism and womanism are about the fair treatment of women and recapturing the ability to be and define ourselves for ourselves, how has expressing control of our images and our bodies become so one-dimensional? Why isn’t the pointed choice to cover one’s body seen as equally empowering? 

I modeled many years ago in college. I felt ugly and awkward back then, but I fought past all of that to don skimpy clothes and stand in front of a camera in a desperate attempt to feel beautiful. When I posted those photos to my social media accounts (back then it was Myspace and BlackPlanet), the attention I received from the opposite sex was intoxicating. It validated me. It made me feel anything but ugly or awkward.

I didn’t stick with modeling for long, so when I finally had an opportunity to pick the hobby back up this year, I was jazzed, but for brand new reasons. I could finally carve out time to work with an especially creative friend and come up with fun and creative concepts, angles, backgrounds and more, in order to create great photographs and great artwork. The difference between modeling for me then and now is that I shoot without baring much (if any) skin. It was a subconscious decision as I have become increasingly aware of the fact that I can feel attractive, s*xy and good about myself on my own terms. I’m not comfortable baring too much skin. I have never been. Instead of trying to fight that, I embraced it. The decision to dress to my own liking and not bare it all struck me as valuable in a brand new way.

My younger cousins, some of my students, and my mentees have seen the photographs. In a world that is pretty much completely driven by sex and money, simply seeing a photograph of a woman they know who is fully dressed but is still “attractive” has given them a new view of what it means to be s*xy and how they want to define it for themselves. Some of my students who’ve only ever thought of themselves as attractive when they were baring as much skin as possible are now rethinking and asking themselves what they like about who they are and how do they really want to dress? That was a revelation for me.

It’s not healthy to equate a woman’s control of her body with nudity and sexual suggestiveness, especially not for girls and young women who are still exploring themselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. What narrow trajectory does that line of thinking offer them? Instead, I would argue that the power is in having the option. The power, the control, and the appeal is in the ability to say, “This is what everyone else thinks and feels, but this over here is what I think, feel and believe and THIS is how I choose to define myself.” Whatever the decision chosen is, it is well-informed and it is your own. It’s easy to go along with popular trends because a favorite actress or singer has suddenly made this or that “cool.” We’re not taught to question the groupthink of pop culture. We’re taught to give in to societal demands and fall in line with ideology that does not serve our higher selves.

Are nudity and sex horrible things? Absolutely not, but they certainly aren’t the end-all, be-all of all things s*xy and attractive. And they certainly aren’t what girls and young women should be seeing exclusively as womanhood. Knowing that we have the right to step into our own beauty in whatever way we choose is where our power lies as women and as human beings. Fearing that we somehow score within the lowest beauty percentile if we choose not to expose our bodies is just as damaging as trying to force virtue through never discussing the body and sex. Our power, as 21st century women, is not in succumbing to sexist stereotypes and reclaiming them as our “liberation.” Our power is in realizing our intelligence to think outside of anyone’s boxes and choosing the option that best elevates us individually, and those who will come after us.

La Truly is a writer, higher education professional, and young women’s empowerment enthusiast. She mixes her interest in social and cultural issues with her life experiences  to encourage thought, discussion and positive change among young Women of Color. Follow her on Twitter: @ashleylatruly and check out her site: www.ashleyjh.com.

Ooookay: American Apparel Wants To Fight Beauty Standards By Having Mannequins With Bushy Pubic Hair

January 20th, 2014 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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American Apparel pubic hair

Jen Chung/The Gothamist

Just imagine walking down the street one day on your way to one of your favorite shops, and as you turn the corner, you come upon the site of three mannequins, not only wearing sheer lingerie in a store window, but rocking a full bush down there. Well, that’s what will happen if you find yourself at the East Houston Street American Apparel location in New York City.

While the response to the store’s display has allegedly been pretty lighthearted according to The Gothamist (they claim folks were mostly just laughing like pre-teen boys at the spectacle), the director of marketing for American Apparel, Ryan Holiday, told them in a statement that using pubic hair at the East Houston street location is something they’re serious about, because they want to promote the natural beauty of women.

“American Apparel is a company that celebrates natural beauty, and the Lower East Side Valentine’s Day window continues that celebration. We created it to invite passerby’s to explore the idea of what is “s*xy” and consider their comfort with the natural female form. This is the same idea behind our advertisements which avoid many of the photoshopped and airbrushed standards of the fashion industry. So far we have received positive feedback from those that have commented and we’re looking forward to hearing more points of view.”

Great. A man wants folks to have a conversation with the general public about the female form…

It’s one thing to try and have a conversation about beauty standards, but why start with pubic hair?? Why not diversify the mannequins? Why not switch up their body types to show that one size doesn’t fit all? I guess that’s not as controversial as placing hair on the private parts of plastic mannequins, but I think it would have been taken a little bit more seriously. And considering that American Apparel gets a lot of flack already for what many deem exploitation of the bodies of young female models in their ads, who are often captured damn near naked, putting attention on the vag*na (and basically saying there’s an epidemic where women are oh so pressured to be bald down there) and the hair on it doesn’t help them to get taken more seriously. It’s an interesting conversation, but the folks behind this company aren’t necessarily the right ones to start or facilitate it.

But what do you think? Was it a good idea or just another move by American Apparel to shock folks?

How Important Is A Big Butt?

January 9th, 2014 - By Toya Sharee
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big butt

Source: Shutterstock

Did we really land on the moon?  Who killed Tupac?  How far will that bright future behind you take you? For about the past decade, with the help of twerking and booty shots, some women have become obsessed with who has the biggest booty and men have exhausted all efforts to have the winner on their arm…or at least in their lap.  It got me started thinking about petite girl problems and how many women with bigger backsides I have witnessed getting wifed up (or just booed up) because they’re on #TeamClappers. I blame Nicki Minaj. But seriously, it makes me wonder: How important is the size of one’s backside?

Am I hating?  Maybe a little.  I’m no Miley Cyrus, but my booty probably wouldn’t inspire any Lil’ Wayne lyrics.  But I have been blessed with big booty friends who have used their super powers to get us everything from free drinks to good seats on the Megabus.  I’m sure many women with the ample gluteus maximus God (or their neighborhood booty shot beautician) gave them have never given too much thought about if men’s heads were turning to get a better view of their back, their beauty or if it even mattered.  Now I don’t like to call people anything but cute, but I will say I’ve noticed a very unsettling trend of not trying.  It’s like there are some women who feel like they can walk out the house looking any ol’ kind of way because their milkshake will bring all the boys to the yard. Men are ruining their credit, cheating on their wives, pro-creating with women who I wouldn’t trust to care for a Chia pet with nothing to show for it except for, “Did you see that a** tho’?”  And in response, some women are thinking they don’t even have to come correct.  They could have a missing tooth, no edges and a mustache that would make Drake’s dad blush and as long as they can make it clap they’ll never want for a man’s attention. And for those that don’t have all that going on behind them, they start to think they need to have it. Will men always choose a big booty over everything else?

“Don’t get me wrong, men have always liked a**, but it wasn’t necessarily a deal breaker on if a man would try to hit on a girl or not.  But now it’s a fad and dudes are obsessive about it.  You could have face like Beyoncé, but if you have an a** like Miley Cyrus to dudes nowadays, you’re automatically a five.  Now the girl with the big booty looking like Gollum from Lord of the Rings, she’ll get play for days. But that bothers me, because at the end of the day I have to talk to your face, not your behind.  That shows you right there what a man’s intentions are.”

These are the words of a male friend of mine as we debated over the phone the other day about the importance of an ample backside for some men.

Beauty standards change all the time.  In the eighties and nineties you were beautiful if you were a broomstick rocking big breasts, but it seems that in the past decade, if your behind isn’t galloping behind you when you walk down the street, then all of a sudden you’re not as beautiful as you could be, and that’s a problem.  Women just can’t seem to break this cycle of men defining beauty standards. Sisqó told folks that he likes the way your booty goes “duh duh, duh duh” and quite a few young girls and women ran out and bought thongs to sit on their hips. Big Sean told you to make that thing “Hammer time” and women suddenly made squats a priority in their day.  Do women truly even know what WE think is beautiful anymore?

Now every once in while the rare phenomenon occurs that a woman has a face like Sanaa Lathan and a body like Melyssa Ford, but usually life sees fit to give you one or the other, which is fine as long as women and men alike would stop giving the almighty booty more credit than it deserves and focusing on one body part like the others don’t matter.  I can’t help but wonder how great having a big booty on a woman could be to a man if you have to lift up a chick’s back fat to get to it?  Women are injecting everything from tub caulk to toothpaste so they can have a behind that looks like Blac Chyna’s, but neglecting that they have dents and bumps all down their thighs.

“I feel kind of deceived.  Women have all of these things like Spanx.  The worst thing is to see a girl with a big behind sitting high, only for it to fall to the back of her knees when she takes her clothes off.  That’s not a turn on.”

This according to a colleague as we discussed beauty and booty.

So how far will your booty take you? Most men I talked to agreed that basically a big behind would get them talking, but if you aren’t bringing much else to the table, it’s going to be a short conversation. And that’s all fine and good if the only thing you want is attention and to discuss your favorite position.  You may have a bright future behind you, but if a man has no interest in having face to face interaction with you, do you really want any kind of future with him?  You have to wonder how much you really want your butt or any body part of yours for that matter to account for your self-worth or opportunities in life.

Toya Sharee is a community health  educator  and   parenting education coordinator who has a passion  for helping  young women  build  their self-esteem and make  well-informed choices  about their sexual  health. She  also  advocates for women’s  reproductive rights and blogs about  everything  from  beauty to love  and relationships. Follow her on Twitter   @TheTrueTSharee or visit  her blog Bullets  and  Blessings .

 

 

#DarkSkinRedLip Project Tells Chocolate Girls To Pucker Up!

August 7th, 2013 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: Tumblr.com

Source: Tumblr.com

My mother always tells me this story about her beloved red coat. My mom, a dark skinned woman, with a dark skinned mother was warned from an early age that bright colors weren’t for her, that they wouldn’t look right against her skin tone.

But my mother has always been one to get what she wants. So one day when she was around 9 or 10 years old, my grandmother took her coat shopping and told her to pick out one she wanted. My mother quickly grabbed a red wool coat, telling my grandmother that’s what she wanted. Motivated by her own conditioning and hang ups, my grandmother tried to tell my mother that she should choose a different color that red wasn’t for her. My mother, as a child, told her mother that if she didn’t buy her the red coat she wasn’t going to wear anything else.

Now, my grandmother could have easily told her she was buying something else and she would wear whatever she told her to. But I think she respected my mother’s resolve at such a young age and perhaps even recognized that her hang ups were just that her own. There was no need for her to pass that on to her young daughter.

But just because my mother was able to get her way with the coat, didn’t mean that my grandmother’s beauty rules and regulations didn’t affect her in other ways. To this day, my mother will not wear bright colored lipstick. A lot of it has to do with her preference for dark colors, (which do look good on her), but she does admit that she shies away from her bright colors because she was always told dark girls shouldn’t wear those colors. When we look at lipsticks she’ll show me a shade that she thinks will look good on me or my sister, (We’re considerably lighter than her.) But when we suggest she buy it, the answer is always “I’m too dark.”

It’s probably too late for my mom but I would love to get rid of these ridiculous notions that dark women don’t look good in certain shades. Which is why I can dig the new #DarkSkinRedLip Project from For Brown Girls. For Brown Girls, an organization founded by Karyn Washington, aims to celebrate dark skin women while combating colorism and promoting self love to all women.

The #DarkSkinRedLip Project attempts to break barriers by inviting women of darker hues to submit pictures of themselves wearing a red lip. So far, the project has collected 200 photos and has a goal of collecting a 1,000 pictures.

“Along with abolishing that stigma, the project will serve as inspiration to any girl or woman who have given into this stereotype and shied away from wearing a red lip.In viewing such images, a darker skinned girl who is hesitant to try a red lip will find the confidence to step out of her comfort zone, disregarding the opinion of anyone else. In an effort to better understand the feelings, attitudes and experiences of women relating to this issue we have also created a brief survey for participants to complete which has received numerous responses as well. Not only does this project encourage women of a darker hue, but sends a message to all women, everywhere to be confident in who they are and what they like, never letting someone else dictate that for them.”

If you’re interested in submitting a photo, for the #DarkSkinRedLip project, you can send your photos to forbrowngirls@yahoo.com including your name, state and brand/name of the lipstick you’re wearing.

That Baby Is Draping! Why Folks Aren’t Feeling “Baby Bangs!”, One Of The First Official Wigs For Baby Girls…

July 10th, 2013 - By Clarke Gail Baines
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Shutterstock

Is your baby girl’s lack of flowing curly hair embarrassing you in public? Do people often confuse your infant daughter for a boy? Do you want your child to look more feminine even though they barely have eyebrows? Baby Bangs are for you!

Now that I’ve gotten all of my sarcasm out, let’s discuss this new trend of wigs for baby girls called “Baby Bangs.” While you can allegedly buy baby afro wigs and more from different obscure places around the Internet, the site Baby Bangs! is catching all sorts of hell this week from folks (including Jezebel) for their headbands, which are essentially full short wigs that help a baby look more feminine. For the impatient parent who just can’t wait for their child’s own hair to grow in, here’s a description from the site of how the hairpieces work:

“Our patent pending HAIR+band accessory combination allows baby girl’s (with little or no hair at all) the opportunity to have a beautifully realistic HAIR style in a SNAP!! It’s quick, easy and baby barely knows it’s there. Each Baby Bangs! HAIR+band has been made using only the finest ribbons and fabrics, PLUS our Baby Bangs! come to you pre-customized & size appropriate, cut, styled and ready for immediate wear. The wispy hair strands have been arranged in the cutest most adorable elfish coiffure!”

According to a CBS affiliate in New York, the wigs start at $20 and go up depending on custom designs, and they work for babies up to nine months old–probably because by nine months, the headband and its silky Monofiber Kanekalon strands probably wouldn’t look right with a child’s head full of hair (produced the old fashion way and probably growing fast by almost a year old).

According to the site, their philosophy is that they “believe in the beauty of childhood.” And while there is nothing wrong with dressing your baby up, throwing a little headband on them and what not, there’s something wrong with feeling the need to get them a wig, as if they don’t look cute enough already. They’re just babies! They don’t have anybody they need to be impressing or putting on their good wigs for, and while it’s not something to get full on pissed off about (especially since there are baby heels out here on the market), it’s definitely something side-eye worthy. Let these kids be kids and let’s stop forcing our standards of beauty on them so early.

What do you think about “Baby Bangs!”? Harmless or a hot mess?

Is It Better To Be Unattractive Or Overweight?

April 22nd, 2013 - By Kendra Koger
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When I first started on my weight loss journey after having my daughter, I remember updating one of my sisters on my progress.  After I hit the 15 pound loss mark she was excited for me.  Though she was happy, I couldn’t really embrace it because I felt that even though I had made a dent in the large amount of padding that was on my body, it wouldn’t be good enough because to the outside world I was still fat.  Plan and simple.  Until my body went back to its normal size, I felt worried that every pound or inch loss would be in vain until reaching my coveted size before being seen as appropriate to the public.

Recently, we’ve discussed the increase of “fat shaming” in the world, from insensitive quotes, airlines contemplating to over charge overweight individuals, and the discrepancy of pay wages based on weight.  There is even an article on The Huffington Post where a woman addresses the discrimination that she felt by her boss over her size and how she was forced to quit.  While discussing this with one of my best friends she tried to encourage me with:  “Well, you might not be at the size that you’re comfortable yet, but at least you still have a pretty face.”

Maybe it’s because with the increase of our social media, that requires people to use a photograph of themselves that is causing people to become more image conscious.  But all of this made me wonder, which is the lesser of the two, being over weight, or being unattractive?

So let’s discuss this weight thing.  I remember when we posted the article on Tyrese‘s criticism on overweight individuals, and reading the comment section and some of you all were going IN on dude.  But, it made me remember the comments on the airplane wage  suggestion of having obese flyers to “pay what you weigh,” and there were many people who agreed with it (making me feel that people might have agreed more with Tyrese than what they wanted to put on).  It seems that the common thread of how people saw obese and overweight people were that the discrimination was warranted due to the fact that for most people it’s a controllable condition with a solution.

But does that mean that unattractiveness is something that can be forgiven?  Now me, personally, I don’t believe that anyone is ugly, because beauty is subjective.  Even if you don’t find someone attractive, there are others that do.  We see this all the time.  Things that have been criticized on black women (big lips, hips, and butt) have been celebrated on more European figures.  Also, if I have to gauge someone else’s beauty then I have to gauge my own, and honestly, I’m too sensitive to try to figure out if I’m pretty or not.  But, there are certain facial features that almost universally convey trust and appeal to others (which is why in cartoon movies, all the villains tend to look alike).  Things like how far set your eyes are, how symmetrical your face is, the shape of your face, and for men, the appearance of facial hair has also played a part in wage differences.

But with each factor, weight, and your perceived attractiveness seems to play a part in how people treat you.  Is it right?  No.  People should be treated by their character, and usually that ends up happening… after you get to know someone.  However, sometimes you have to endure people judging you and your abilities on superficial reasons.  People can assume horrible things about you, whether you’re overweight, thin, attractive, or not regarded as so.  But, let’s have an open discussion, readers.  What do you think that society, or you yourself favor?  Do you feel you treat one better than the other?

Curvy vs. Slim Debate Erupts In West Africa, Both Sides Argue That Their Beauty Is Underrated

April 2nd, 2013 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Source: Shuttstock

Source: Shutterstock

Historically, it has appeared that the residents of many countries in Africa preferred the more voluptuous, curvy woman over the slim and slender-figured woman. However, lately, preferences appear to be shifting, sparking many public debates among residents of the Ivory Coast, regarding which physique is more desirable, reports the New York Daily News.

“Being thin is synonymous with being sickly and malnourished in African society,” Micheline Gueu, a candidate in the Miss Ivory Coast beauty pageant, regretfully admitted.

Slim-figured Ivorian singer, Princess Amore, however, is encouraging slender, small-breasted women, whom she refers to as “lalas” to embrace their figures.

“I noticed that some girls were embarrassed to have small breasts and felt like they had to fake it by stuffing their bras,” she told AFP.

Her use of the term “lala” is actually in reference to the word “lolo,” which is commonly used to describe curvy women. In 2000, Ivorian musician Meiway released song, “Mrs. Lolo,” celebrating the curves of voluptuous women. At a concert last year, he yelled out to his audience:

“You White people, you like your women flat and thin. Here, we like them big, with curves.”

Despite the widespread celebration of the “lolos,” the Daily News reports that there are certainly more “lalas” being showcased in the Miss Ivory beauty pageants.

Victor Yapobi, President of the Miss Ivory organizing committee suggests that thinner women are more easily marketed than fuller figured women.

“Our beauties comply to international standards: minimum height 1.68 metres (five feet six inches), 90 centimetres (35 inches) around the hips,” said Yapobi.

It appears that statements like the one made by Yapobi are one of the reasons that curvier African women argue that their beauty is also underrated. In 2009, Abidjan organization, Roundly Beautiful surfaced. Spearheaded by Djeneba Dosso, the organization aims to “rid big women of their complexes.” Although the group celebrates curvy women, organizers also encourage Ivorian women to make healthier choices, as many of them “don’t exercise and eat badly,” says Dosso.

Artist Augustin Kassi, who frequently paints images of full-figured women, disapproves of the beauty pageant, which he refers to as  “voluntary denigration of African beauty.” As a promoter of diversity, it appears that Kassi finds the constant debating to be trivial.

“The world is made up of different things. It’s a rainbow,” he says.

What are your thoughts on the thick vs. slim debate?

Are You Afraid To Say You’re Pretty?

March 26th, 2013 - By Veronica Wells
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If there was ever a study about black women that I’m inclined to believe, it’s the one about us being more confident in our appearance than other groups of women. Last month, Kate Fridkis, wrote a piece called “Why can’t women think they’re pretty?” I read the title and thought oh, that’s tragic. Let me read. And while Fridkis brought up some salient points about how women often downplay and apologize for highlighting their flattering physical features; by the end of the article I thought to myself, thank God I don’t have this problem. You can call me vain or incorrect if you want, but I’ve always thought I was pretty. And even said it, out loud, in front of people a couple of times. Now, I don’t know if it’s because I’ve consistently heard this from others, because my parents promoted self confidence or because I’m just vain. I’m sure it’s a combination of all of these things; but whatever the reason(s), I’m grateful for this ability to be content, and dare I say very pleased, with what I see in the mirror.

I knew I was good- so I started thinking about other women in my circle. I had to start with the source. My mom. My mother, who I and others regard as beautiful, doesn’t meet European or mainstream beauty standards. She’s short, overweight, has dark skin and natural hair. But I’ve never heard her speak ill of her beauty. She might have talked about wanting to lose weight or wear her hair a different way; but when it came to her natural, physical beauty, there have been times when she’s been downright cocky. The same is true for my aunts, cousins and sister on both sides of the family. Hell, even the men talk about knowing they look good. I realize it may sound like we’re a bunch of self-obsessed jerks, but we’ll just have to be that. After all, in a world where people are constantly insulting folks based on their appearance I’d prefer we be overly confident in our looks, so we can shoulder that criticism than underestimate our beauty and let the naysayers break us down.

But I want to be careful not to dismiss anyone’s experience. I know I’ve had friends on both sides of the spectrum. I’ve had the “can’t tell me nothin'” friends and the friends who would say outright, to my shock and surprise, that they didn’t think they were pretty. I get how one could come to feel this way; but really I don’t understand it. (If that makes sense.) If beauty is subjective and increased exposure increases attractiveness how could you not at least be good with the face you’ve been living with all your life?

Maybe people have just had too many critics. Maybe they’ve internalized too many beauty standards that didn’t match their own. Maybe insecurity is stronger than we could ever imagine. I can’t call it. I’m just always surprised when I hear this type of talk from black women. Unfortunately, I’ve seen and heard far too many white women say they want Jennifer Anniston’s hair, Charlize Theron’s body and Pipa Middleton’s booty. All the while completely trashing their own, perfectly attractive beauty. If there was anything positive to come from a lack of minority representation in media, it’s that black women were less likely to compare ourselves to shapes and figures we could never achieve…naturally. Maybe white women, who’ve been watching their likeness on tv, seeing it plastered on billboards and magazine spreads have come to think that these are the only examples of hotness. While black women who didn’t see themselves represented at all but had the love, affection and attention of men, black and otherwise, knew that the media couldn’t be telling the whole story and decided to be good with themselves anyway.

Again, I can’t call it. What I do know is that every woman, every person really, regardless of what others may say about him or her, should strive to be able to look in the mirror and like what they see. None of us will ever be beautiful to everyone but the least we should try to do is be drop dead gorgeous to ourselves.

Do you think you’re pretty? Do you have problems claiming this either to yourself or others?