This article is a post from black male aquaintence who posted this
opinon on Facebook over 2 years ago. I read it again and told him I
had to publish it.
Recently, I have noticed bristling debate about whether Michelle Obama is "beautiful", or "ugly".
Opinions vary widely.
I am completely aware that in our society, the concept of feminine
"beauty" has a very narrow interpretation, predicated on the
physiological, and related to the rules set down by our dominant
The question itself is disturbing, in that despite Mrs. Obama's
admirable achievements as a scholar, attorney, activist, loving and
dedicated wife and mother, somehow her value is still being assessed in
terms of her ability to meet certain culturally-biased criteria for
beauty and femininity. It begs disturbing questions that these ideas are
at issue. Most disturbing, is that, in my experience, the issue of her
"beauty" receives such scant affirmation from the black community
Taste and aesthetics, are shaped and defined by cultural stimuli.
The ideas to which we're introduced, that we ingest, and then digest,
become our perception of ourselves, and the world. One can't embrace or
reject an idea to which one is never introduced. Critical thought
carefully examines the idea prior to ingesting it. In metaphorical
terms, everything which is tasted, is not to be chewed, and everything
which is chewed is not to be swallowed and digested.
No one is under any compulsion, or has the capacity, to explain or
justify their sense of beauty, in rational terms. For example, in
matters of taste, some people simply like certain flavors of ice cream
better than others, for reasons that have no rational basis; in such a
case, the subject makes a subjective determination based upon their own
experience, independent of undue influence. The process of choice and
perception becomes contaminated and fraudulent, when there is intense
and subjective indoctrination applied towards the end of creating
unmerited favor for one thing in relation to another, and application of
arbirtrary superior value.
That having been said, I would submit an idea for general
consideration: Perhaps the premise that holds that Mrs. Obama is of
marginal attractivness, is due to the fact that the African-American
sense of aesthetics has been subjected to and shaped by a culture and
experience that is foreign, and on a deeper level, destructive, in that
it finds superior beauty the further we are removed from the subsaharan,
bantu phenotype, and come closer to a foreign standard.
Cicely Tyson began her career as a fashion model. During a period in
this country's cultural history, in the consciousness of many, she was
considered to be beautiful. That's an exceedingly difficult idea for
many to even begin to comprehend, which, to my mind, as much as
validates the premise set forth. Although I fully realize that the
perception of "beauty" is constantly in flux, maybe the sense of what is
"beautiful", doesn't need to be changed, but broadened, and redefined
by the people who intend to apply it to themselves. With the notable
exception of a brief period in the 60s, people of African descent have
had a sense of beauty and value forcibly imposed on them.
Honey-colored, aquiline-nosed, sandy-haired women like Beyonce' are
beautiful black women; they're just not the ultimate embodiment of black
beauty or femininity.
I would hope that those of us actively raising, or planning to
raise, black daughters would be wary of what the world offers to black
women in the area of acceptance and feminine validation.
What is your opnion?