A young lady complaining about changing standards of beauty. She entirely and wholly missing the point:
Everything about me – specifically my racialised features as a Black mixed woman – felt “too much”. I remember the distinct feeling of wanting to shrink myself, melt myself down into something neater, smaller, sleeker – which is how I saw my white friends, and the beautiful white people on TV.
Then, in my early 20s, soon after moving to London from my home in Manchester, I began to notice a shift in how beauty was being represented. Suddenly, faces, hair and bodies that looked like mine were plastered on shop windows, grinning down from billboards, smizing (smiling with their eyes) from the pages of magazines. Every other TV ad featured mixed models or an interracial family.
White influencers began plumping their lips, baking their skin, braiding their hair, even undergoing invasive surgical procedures to create curves where none existed. The things about myself I had wanted to disguise or alter in my youth were now in vogue – and I struggled to get my head around that. How did it become “trendy” to look like me? And should I feel pleased about it?
Good grief. The first major change in the looks of the British population – the population of Britain that is – was the arrival of mass immigration. The black population of these isles was, in 1940, some 8,000 to 10,000 souls largely in the old port towns – Tiger Bay for Shirley Bassey and so on. Black and British was thus something rare and exotic and something that most Britons actually had no personal experience of at all.
The introduction of many a Brit to what a black looked like in person was the – segregated – American army of 1942 and onwards. Something which we dealt with rather better than the white part of the American army to be honest.
And then, of course, on to the arrivals of the past few decades. Those then leading, as is fairly common among humans, to rumpy and even pumpy and now we’ve the fastest growing section of the population, those who are classified as “mixed”.
So, as the mixed become a greater part of the population we’re seeing a greater visibility of the mixed. This is how societies work.
This then being something she wants to complain about?
And that is why it’s impossible to see the rise of mixed beauty ideals as a positive thing, because at its heart sits an unsettling insistence on white superiority.
Oh Dear God woman, seriously, get a grip. This is an excessive level of preciousness. Society is adapting to the joys of miscegenation – get over it.
That’s not the worst though, this is:
It wasn’t so long ago that the mixed population was being scrutinised with a similar energy but with an entirely different outcome. In the 1930s and 1940s, there were groups warning about the dangers of “race crossing”; there were calls for mixed people to be sterilised; we were denigrated as deviant, stupid, contaminated, undesirable. Isn’t the contemporary idealisation of mixedness – the suggestion that we are more beautiful or have “the best of both” – simply the other side of the same coin?
No, it isn’t. Her own link is to this:
Geneticists in England and the United States clearly reversed their published remarks on the effects of race crossing between 1930 and 1950. The reversal occurred in two steps. First came the change in the 1930’s from a condemnation of wide race crosses to an agnostic view. The second change, from the agnostic view to the belief that wide race crosses were at worst biologically harmless, took place during and shortly after World War II.
It’s an investigation of why the attitude changed. The answer given being that we looked at the Nazis and their preoccupations with these sorts of things, had a think about that and then went and had a war which killed 50 million people to get rid of the vile and hateful ideas and the associated actions.
No Honey, this is neither the same nor the other side of the coin of admiring a phat booty these days.
Jeez, The Guardian will publish anything these days, won’t it? As long, I assume, as it is sufficiently narcissistic as they’re still not availing themselves of picking up my stuff again.