When Your Black Isn't Beautiful Enough
Few will understand the importance of what the #blackgirlmagic movement means to me. For the first time in a long time, I felt great and important for being a black girl. I felt like I mattered and wasn’t being pushed to the background for having features and qualities not seen as desirable to the masses. I began to feel valued. I began to feel like my blackness was enough.
But it wasn't always that way. It’s still a struggle. My hair is still taboo on me but trendy on other races. My curves look trashy on me but sexy on others. My lips make me look animalistic yet when others get injections to emulate them, they become flawless. Since experiencing my first interracial relationship, I became very much aware just how undesirable the world views black women and how our looks are fetishized and sometimes idolized and mimicked.....just not on us.
I remember dating outside my race for the first time and learning that my boyfriend’s father did not like black people. To this day, I wonder what those discussions were like. What stereotypes were uttered to describe me, a person his father never even met. What racial slurs were said. All of the reasons that he gave as to why I wasn’t good enough for his son simply because I was black. This was the first time that I really saw up close how it was to feel inferior and to be seen as so because of my skin. But it wasn’t the last or even the first time this happened; it was just the first time that I noticed.
I have since experienced cases where I was someone’s “first black” experience or his only one, or where I was only seen good enough to be a play thing or a just a hook up. But when it came to dating and more serious relationships, the guy went for someone of a different race. She wasn’t necessarily doing anything different than I was. We may both been equally successful in our own right. I’m sure there were differences other than race. But when it happens on several occasions, especially with how black women are viewed and portrayed, one does wonder. In several cases, especially when there were feelings involved, these men eventually wound up going for non-black girls. Sometimes marrying them and building families or overall just respecting them a lot more.
Some of these cases even took place with black men. I remember going to a mostly white high school and feeling completely undesirable. Not just because I knew other races wouldn’t be attracted to me but because I saw that even black guys weren’t. When they did date black girls, they were usually lighter skinned and had longer hair. Even when you look at the most successful black women, such as Beyonce, Rihanna, Halle Berry, etc., they are usually light skinned women. Some of the black men never dated black girls, and even voiced that they had a preference for white or Latina women.
Relationships and being desirable of course shouldn’t mean everything and definitely should not define a person. But it is difficult walking through life feeling like you’ll never really be someone’s preference, not even without your own race. I even have this fear that my ex, who is part black, will end up with someone not black because I statistically am not his type. Most of the men I’ve been with, I have not been their type, though I thought I could be and even changed to try to be. But there is one thing I can never change. I try not to let any of this deter me overall. I love my lips. I love my natural afro. I love my chocolate skin. I love my hips, my thighs, and the rest of my curves. I’m starting to accept my nose. I love the way I sway between slang and regular vernacular with ease, though it comes from an insecurity of feeling like I have to play multiple sides. I love my history, all the shit I’ve overcome, and the strength that it has given me. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt when I see shows and movies of black men leaving black women and starting lives with non-black men and living happier lives. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt to just be the exception to the rule but never enough so to have those men value you. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt to feel like you’re the only race where you are not the preference but others are. That they put you down, judged you by, and deface you with the same stereotypes that are getting them killed.
If you think this is my saying that I don’t support interracial relationships and that I am defining myself by these experiences, you are beyond missing the point. Obviously I do because I have been and have put my all in, regardless of what race it was with. But many have the dream of being married and starting a family. To be that one person that someone else wants to spend his life with. But when you’re a black woman in America, the feeling of being unwanted is really real. You see more and more that just being black is not enough and not beautiful, not even to your own men, even when you think it is or want it to be. And regardless of how worthy you know that you are, how bad that you know that you are, how great, beautiful, talented, and driven that you are, it still creates an unshaken inferiority where you sometimes compare yourself to women of other races, and as Warsan Shire put it, tear off your skin and put on theirs. The feeling that you’ll never be as beautiful as these women because society will never see you as so. And that is such a lonely feeling.