Today the British press have gone gaga over a study which apparently reveals that black women are happy to be a little heavier than white women. Which, in my view, demonstrates exactly how entrenched the idea that one has to be very slim to be beautiful is, amongst the larger white population in this country. That is how this study came to be ‘news’.
“Black women body confident!” the headlines this morning have screamed - Which is a massive logistical leap.
It does not necessarily follow that, simply because curvy black women tend to be happier than curvy women of other races, that the black community have no body confidence issues at all. Body image in all its guises is a minefield, with no room for simplification of this nature.
This morning, I was asked to share my views on Nick Ferrari’s show on LBC 97.3. Having taught my self-esteem class to teenagers of a wide range of different races, and hailing from a mixed race family myself, it has of course not escaped my notice that beauty paradigms often differ according to culture. Whilst a white women, for example, might covet Beyonce’s super flat stomach, a black woman might aspire to her magnificently strong thighs.
The reversal of the more widely acknowledged “thin = beautiful” paradigm within the black community has in fact left many naturally slender black women feeling marginalised. And that’s before we even begin to tackle the twin Goliaths of skin colour and chemical hair straightening within the black community.
But let’s not generalise. For, I fear that is where we are heading, on this one. British born black women might have a foundation of different cultural ideals, but they’re still subject to aggressive pro-slim UK marketing, just like every woman other who lives here.
I’m writing an article for FAB Magazine, detailing my observations on the relationship between race and the beauty debate. In the meantime, this topical mini-blog is designed to give readers pause for thought – Making generalisations about any race or culture is dangerous. Let’s not disregard all the black and mixed race women who are, in fact, in need of a body confidence boost.