City Desk

Post Continues To Publish Nonsense About Black Women

It's weird that the Post's latest entry to its Black Women Are Like This series, based on polling it did last year, quotes two old songs about how sexy larger, curvier bodies are, as evidence that black women don't have the body issues white women have.

Sure, Sir Mix-A-Lot likes big butts. The Commodores appreciate women built like brick houses. But let's take a look at some more recent music. In 2003, Jay-Z crowed that "all the wavy light-skinned girls" love him now. Last year, Lil Wayne noted, "beautiful black women, I bet that bitch look better red” (as in "redbone," another word for "light-skinned"). And there are plenty of entries in the lexicon of songs that prize light-skinned black women with long, straight hair. A standard of beauty, it's worth noting, that few black women can meet without the help of a hair stylist or a boxed relaxer.

Still, setting aside the problems with measuring one's self-esteem by the male gaze, it's misleading and strange to frame a story about black women's feelings only as a counterpoint to white women. Maybe it's the editing, but there's a strange air of wonder throughout the story over the fact that black women don't hew to white womanhood as the default standard of beauty. On top of that, there's no mention of the myriad issues black women do have when it comes to their appearance. No discussion of skin lightening creams, no mention of weaves and relaxers, nothing about the anxiety of thin black women who want to "thicken up" thanks to Sir Mix-A-Lot, nothing about the women who were told they were "pretty for a dark-skinned girl."

We'll just say this: It's not like being "thick" like Beyoncé or having long tresses like Megan Good is any more natural for black women than being as thin as Gwyneth Paltrow is for white women. It's just a different, equally ridiculous, standard of beauty that can't be glossed over with the chorus of "I'm Every Woman."

Photo by Matt Dunn

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  • Southeast Ken

    I found the Washington Post article to be race baiting and racist.

  • Sigmagrrl

    I don't understand this latest obsession the Post seems to have with dissecting, examining, and picking apart the minutae of black women. It's making me feel uncomfortable, as though now, when walking down the streets of DC, people who read these articles are automatically painting me with a brush full of these published assumptions!!


    I agree with your both, Southeast Ken and Sigmagrrl.

  • …done

    cosign Sigma. I want to left the fuck alone.

  • b4life

    I agree with Sigmagrrl. I'm horrified by the series but even more so at the writing. Lonnae O'Neal Parker's writing leaves a lot to be desired for a nationally recognized writer.

    I'm not sure how the article is race baiting, but to each his own.

  • Mike

    Let's give DC residents a little more credit than that. Just because the Post writes completely insane articles that are indeed race baiting and racist does not make the average person on the street think differently.

  • Jay

    The Post's creepy obsession with black women happened right after Michelle Obama came to prominence.

  • LE

    The whole series is made worse by the endless string of "Issues and problems of rich white people" articles the Post has been publishing (e.g., the recent ones on rich white women opening yoga studios and a rich, white suburban family having trouble getting their kiddies to school on time and thinking being late is a silly concept). I am white and pretty well off, and I find the whole trend toward "let's study those interesting black folk like specimens" and kissing rich, white butt truly repulsive. The Post is so sad these days.

  • Terry Miller

    The writer of this article is so sucked into the white stereotype of skinny beauty that she thinks it is incredible that a plump woman (of any color) could not only think herself pretty and sexy, but actually BE pretty and sexy. I say to her, get a life!

  • Jane

    The Post's coldly scientific coverage of black people (particularly black women) like they're some kind of mystical alien race that science can't hope to understand turns my stomach.