Black Women : What does "beauty" have to do with women?

Discussion in 'Black Women - Mothers - Sisters - Daughters' started by skuderjaymes, Dec 1, 2011.

  1. skuderjaymes

    skuderjaymes Contextualizer Synthesizer MEMBER

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    These are questions from a conversation I had with a black female intellectual friend of mine.. We were talking about Identity and the word "beauty" came up a few times.. and so I asked her.. and now you,

    "What does beauty have to do with women? And why does "beauty" enter at all into female identity?"
     
  2. Ankhur

    Ankhur Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Why not? Ever hear an elder wise one say, "That Woman got Beauty a blind man can see"

    There are some that understand what that means
    and there are some that don't
     
  3. skuderjaymes

    skuderjaymes Contextualizer Synthesizer MEMBER

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    I posted this in the women's section for a reason. I'm interested in the responses of women first.. then men.. second.. in that order.. but even then, I'm hoping for substance over nonsense..
     
  4. skuderjaymes

    skuderjaymes Contextualizer Synthesizer MEMBER

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    Peace Yall..

    My position (in the conversation mentioned in the opening post) was that "beauty" originally became a part of the female identity through female subjugation by men. she balked at that idea and said it had to do with the expectations of the world.. which, from my angle, sounded like the exact same thing I said, but she refused to accept it as stated by me.. about an hour later, I learned that was really happening was that she was kind of hurt by my idea/assertion that women, generally speaking, were overly concerned about outward appearance.. She said it was unfair that, theoretically speaking, women who wear makeup and heels lose points with me... her words.. which was ironic given the fact that part of my assertion was that women should be the keepers of their own points and not give any undue weight to values and definitions originating outside of themselves.. unless those values/definitions are adequately aligned with their own values, intentions, objectives, etc..

    anyway.. I believe that that hyper-concern with outward appearance emanates from an acculturated/forced insecurity that begins from the earliest stages of female intellectual development. And though she likes her heels and makeup and fitted skirts and whatnot, that doesn't prove that it's not the result of a prolonged and acculturated subjugation. Esteem is like a weed.. or greens.. it'll grow anywhere.. I used the breaking down of men into the roles of sexual objects in prison as an example to show how even those men begin to find esteem within the roles they have been so violently pressed into..

    Humanity is elastic.. Deathrow inmates still smile. So, just because she has embraced some elements of her subjugation and mastered them and applied her genius to them and has acquired her own form of power and free will--all from within the confines of her subjugated role--does NOT mean that the walls of her subjugation are ok. It's my opinion that those walls should be identified and pulled-down--piece by piece.

    But what about the folks that have grown accustomed to those walls? What about the ones that depend on those walls?.. the ones that have built the homes of their identities against those walls? What will they do then? Thats the question. What will protect them then? because remember.. walls that confine, also protect. It's an interesting set of questions.. especially for African American women because of the layers of isms that black women have to negotiate their identity through.. Racism from outside the black community.. Sexism from Outside the black community and Sexism from inside the black community.. realizing an identity through all of those layers of outside definition, is a gargantuan task.. And it's, in my opinion, irresponsible to not guide our daughters through that gauntlet of tricks and traps and holes and distractions.

    For the record, I'm not saying that women shouldn't wear makeup and heels and nice clothes and perfume.. I'm saying that none of those things should enter in anyway into her own ideas about female identity. Meaning, although men may define her.. categorize her.. in terms of their own uses for her, it's my opinion that she should not ever allow those definitions and categories to influence her own definition of her identity.

    And her self-worth.. her esteem... should not be acquired or judged in the terms of those external definitions and categories. The redbone with the big boody and the good hair should not allow those external sexist, racism-affected definitions for her to enter into the way she sees her own self... meaning she should not build any esteem on top of that sexist, racism-affected description of her; even though it casts her as desirable. Just like the black nappy-headed bitc## shouldn't allow that external, racism-affected, sexist definition of her to enter into the way she sees herself.

    anyway, Her and I have had this conversation 3 or 4 different times and it has never ended in any kind of agreement.. she's a Feminist and I'm self-defined.. and so we clash as she tries to speak of liberation from behind a cell door to which, I believe, she has the key. I just can't understand why she doesn't unlock the door and walk free..

    -peace
     
  5. rapunzal24

    rapunzal24 Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Okay, what you are saying is fine and great, but as women we experience a whole lot different from what men experience....and I think that you know that, you have hit on alot of points to show that women should move from this. That being said, as a young girl you grow up thinking that you should be pretty. No one wants to be considered ugly, so you look at what you are shown, it is something that I believe is in us. The problem is, we need guidance to show us what is pretty. You did say the exact same thing as your friend, but sometimes when it comes from the mouths of others, it shows us how silly we are. Also, I don't know exactly how you said it to her, or your relationship, so there may have been other things in that equation.

    You used men in prison to try and break down the way that manipulation can work...I can tell you this, that example would not sit well with most. You forget to look at the example, and you begin to look at men sleeping with men. I don't care how much sense you make, it can make your whole discussion go down the drain.

    We as women know what make-up, weave, and heels can do to us. I wear heels twice a week, once to church, and again just because. Doesn't that sound silly? I will be honest though, when I put on my heels at (5'4") I feel like Wonderwoman. I like it, it makes me feel good, but sometimes they can be a pain in the you know what...most of the time. Like you said though, we have taken the idea of what society has told us what is beautiful. I remember when I first went natural and I went on a date, the brother stared at the top of my head the whole time. It made me self conscience. We try to adapt to what we think our men will like. Later I decided that I was just gonna do me no matter what, and by that I learned that some brothers like natural hair, later on I learned that it is not just about the hair, but self confidence. So I became more comfortable, which allowed me to not give a darn what anyone else thinks.

    With your friend, I don't think she is fighting what you are saying, but she is fighting the fact that she has given in to what is considered beauty in the world. It is considered a weakness, because we are suppose to be so strong, and we are. That is hard for a women to realize, sometimes we can know ourselves but not realize that we are influenced by the outside world.

    All that being said, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I am sure you have heard of that before, and I have seen many examples. Men and women, but you know what, the relationships that I looked and said that is a mismatch because of looks, those are the ones that last.
     
  6. skuderjaymes

    skuderjaymes Contextualizer Synthesizer MEMBER

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    rapunzal24,

    Beauty, as the saying goes, may be in the eye of the beholder..but I would ask,

    "What about the beholdee.. waiting to be defined.. to be instantiated.. to be given a value.. like a blank slate.. as if that value.. that definition bestowed by the beholder is all that they are.. ?​

    What does that process do to her? And does what it does to her, help us or hurt us as a group? And if it hurts her or us, why then should she not be liberated from it?
     
  7. rapunzal24

    rapunzal24 Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    I think it hurts the woman depending on who she is, or what she has been raised to be. We are not waiting to be defined, we are defined before we even know it is possible, before we have a say so. The process can begin to shape her, and break her down, not to the point of destruction, but by the time you are 1 you are playing with baby dolls that probably have make-up on, and high cheek bones. If you look at a Cabbage Patch doll from back in the day, she had high cheekbones and make-up.

    The process, what it turns a woman into is a different story. I think alot of what you are surrounded by helps to encourage or discourage the bounds that society puts you in. Whether your father was there, whether your mother was there, whether it was a peaceful or confrontational home. There is alot that goes into what makes a woman who she is.

    The whole process that society puts us through....it may help, it may hurt. No matter how good you look, you can never feel good enough if you are not right on the inside. You can look at the women you see everyday on the street, famous women who seem to have it all. If you feel good enough, then the extra is just that, extra. If you are lacking in the self-confidence department, then it all becomes overcompensation. I can put on make-up and take that ish off without a second thought, because I don't look like a completely different person. That is why I, and alot of women, don't wear fake eyelashes, and tons of make-up. I don't want to take it off and people look at me like, who the hell is that? I have an aunt who refuses to be seen without make-up, and she doesn't look bad without it.

    She should be liberated from it, but what she has to realize is that she is not being liberated from just society, but herself. She has to form her own ideas of what is beautiful. It does hurt us as a society....but men like what they see, and it always seems to be the things that are the most uncomfortable for women. Heels, make-up, booty implants, breast implants, botox. I must say though, the men who find this important are just insecure, we as women have to recognize this. That is a whole 'nother story though.

    Does it hurt us....I'm not sure. No, scratch that, no. I have seen women who wear heels everyday, make-up, earrings, with relaxers, and they take care of their children, they love their husbands, and their husbands love them. If you are talking about women who think that how they look are the end all and be all....they are messed up. It all depends on the mind frame before you put the make-up and heels on. Beauty is also in the eye of the beholdee, then they will show real beauty on the outside. Sometimes this comes with age for some women (such as myself) . It is not the beauty factor, it is the breakdown in our homes...that is the ultimate cause.
     
  8. Asomfwaa

    Asomfwaa Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Excellent thread topic.

    Our greatest instructor is our eyes. Beauty has nothing to do with 'women.' But everything to do with Africans.

    The sagging phenomenon may look ugly, but it's a beautification technique. In fact, a great consistency with Africans in modern times is a quest to look beautiful. Most every African that you will see tomorrow has invested a portion of their day trying to look beautiful and presentable. You likely will too.

    This is a cultural aspect of Africans [Remember back in College wondering how Europeans would attend class in the Pajamas? That's because you are culturally different.] Meaning, even their ancestors sought to be Beautiful. Recall, the African invented Monarchy, Royalty and Nobility. Monarchs, Royals and Nobles are renowned for their fashion and hence beautification.

    So, it comes to the formerly enslaved populations of America. The European is a misogynist and so is his culture. He hates women and his fashion sense dictates as much. Yet the formerly enslaved, the kidnapped Africans, are mis-educated to think that with the European history starts--four-hundred years ago, no less.

    That said, the African's natural beautification falls underneath the European's fashion sense. And this causes African women to not only beautify like European women would (who are in turn, ironically, mocking Africans in beautification [For beautification is African]) but to beautify according to the standards of a misogynist.

    All put together, the people are confused. The African feminist dislikes European misogyny but likes African beautification, but doesn't know what her fashion once was.

    That said. It's all said.

    Though it's worth bringing up the European woman. She would happily dismiss beautification. She doesn't dismiss it because it harms her. She's a misogynist just as her man is. She dismisses it because it's African.

    Our issue is not understanding our culture and cultural differences. From this we cheapen analysis and harm ourselves in not knowing what standards we are applying and where.

    Africans have beautified for centuries. We are world popular for self-adorning ourselves in Gold. Heck, it's on record to have screwed us over. But that's who we are. We need to remember this.

    Hotep!
     
  9. Destee

    Destee destee.com STAFF

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    My Mother taught me ... pretty is as pretty does ... and i still believe it.

    Love You!

    :heart:

    Destee
     
  10. skuderjaymes

    skuderjaymes Contextualizer Synthesizer MEMBER

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    BUT...

    "What does beauty have to do with women?

    And why why why does "beauty" enter at all into female identity?"
     
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