Now this is a weird subject for me as its something I personally never speak about. How I look is a slightly taboo and awkward subject for me. In regards to beauty and how I feel about myself I guess I am slightly unsure where to begin. But over my next few posts its something I am really going to delve into.
Starting with that scary word…
I have personally experienced racism/discrimination in regards to beauty and sometimes I hadn’t even noticed it! From lack of foundation/powder choices to how people view me as a whole I have put up with some pretty questionable things. And I think it’s about time we talk about it.
Calling something or someone racist is definitely a taboo in today’s society. People are scared to point it out due to people complaining that everyone is too sensitive especially black people who apparently call it out too often. And this is where people need to be educated. Now I am about to say something that will probably shock some of you. I have been discriminated against from both sides. Yep, both white AND black people. To white people I am a black person. To black people I am not black. I am white or a light skinned. So who here is right? Maybe the black people due to light skin? Wrong. I am not light skin, I am not black, I am not white, I am mixed race. I am a mixture of races predominately white British and Jamaican. And I am proud of that. Now notice I say proud, not superior. Big difference!
I am lucky enough to have been brought up into society by parents who are very accepting of all. And that’s how it should be. I hardly knew what racism was as a kid, although I had experienced it without realizing. I have been brought up with friends and family from all over and all different walks of life. After my parents separated when I was younger my Mum still kept up teaching me about my culture which is something, that unfortunately, not everybody gets.
Racism as a whole
Here’s the thing, being mixed does not make it any easier. If a white person is racist they will still hate towards me and some black people hate as they think you’ve got it easy! Lets talk about my family first; My parents put up with a lot of Sh*t. And I mean a lot. From both sides. “Why are you with a black man.” ”
Why would you be with a white girl.” Abuse came from all over. Even when they held hands walking through Gloucester town and a vile man shouted ‘monkey’. This isn’t even going back centuries (they’re not that old!) this is only about 25 years ago if that. Now even more recently, let’s go back 4/5 years, my brother who is white is standing in a Jamaican food shop. This is food he has grown up on. He’s stood there for 25 minutes waiting to order watching people be served before him despite the fact he was there first. He brushes it off, maybe they didn’t realize? The place empties and Kyle goes to order and at the same time my cousin goes in (who is black). The guy turns away from Kyle and goes to serve my cousin. “Mate I was here first.” “Sorry but I’ve got to serve my brother first.” This guy has never seen my cousin in his whole life. Brother? Nah. So my cousin turns and says “Hold up. My cousins been stood here waiting for time!” “Cousin?” “Yes my cousin” “Oh I didn’t realize what can I get you?” Now that is also discrimination.
Moving on to me, have I experienced direct racism?
If classification and labeling me wasn’t enough. Well yes I have. One example is from when I was little. I was at my mum’s friends house Tracey for her daughter Eliza’s Birthday. We are all playing games. “Hold Iya’s hand!” to which the little white girl said “Sorry I can’t. Mummy told me to make sure I don’t hold any brown people’s hands as they are dirty.” This is why this story stands out to me; this little girl is not racist, she’s literally following what her mum has said therefore her racist mum is polluting her and this is how racism is born. We are at a mixed race girls birthday party! This girl may not even remember this! In fact I have her as a friend on Facebook, She may even be reading this feeling clueless thinking how disgusting. I was so upset! I had no clue what was going on. My mum and Tracey were fuming.
Racism Vs Beauty Vs Media
Media is so influential. I know this is said a lot but gosh it is scary! It influences everyone and everything and you may not even realise it. I am going to discuss how media influences us in a later post but in short. One conversation that springs to mind is one I had with my cousin Nina (who is also mixed race) when we were around 9/12. Now we use to be those cousins who use to talk about everything, have sleepover’s etc.. and one day we at this young age started talking about race. To which she asked the question “Would you rather be white or black?” Now this is something I had never thought about before. In-conclusion we both decided that if we had to choose we’d be white. Not because it was prettier but because it was easier and people would like you more. Imagine being age 9 and thinking that.
What should I look like?
Well according to the world I should be a certain way or a certain look. So lets play a “fun game” I am going to give you a little check list each one scoring you points. Then if you are feeling, well, I guess brave? as this can be scary, comment your true answer out of 100%. Anything in bold is deemed a good to have stereotypical black girl feature!
The Imperfectly Beautiful Quiz
- I have the Ideal Oval face shape : 5pts
- I have big lips (Not too big mind!): 5pts
- I am a size 8/10 around my waist : 5pts
- I have thick thighs (making me curvy/plus size approval as this is where its OK to be fat but not skinny) : 5pts
- I have a big ass : 5pts
- I have the perfect cup size D boobs (not too small to be told I am boyish but not too big to be called a slut) oh and they are perky asf: 5pts
- I have a thin smooth nose (N*gger nose? disgusting!) : 5pts
- I am 5ft3 – 5ft5 (too small is weird and taller than that what a freak! unless you know, you are a catwalk model): 5pts
- I have big eyes: 5pts
- Good brows (not thin, deffo natural hair with a little coloured in, slight arch): 5pts
- My hair is either perfect straight but not too flat or perfect ringlets, no frizz yet no hair oil and long: 5pts
- I have arms which aren’t skinny but also have not fat on: 5pts
- I am the perfect amount of tan, I am not pale, not orange/fake and I am not too dark! (anyone say bag test?): 5pts
- I have perfect nails: 5pts
- My feet are always ready, no dry skin, nails always painted: 5pts
- I have clear naturally glowing skin: 5pts
- When I wear makeup it looks professional and flawless but not too much: 5pts
- I have no pubic hair anywhere! this includes, armpits, leg, arm, tash better be gone and yeah you better always and I mean always be bold down there! : 5pts
- I have the right amount of piercings and tattoos! nothing too strange and tattoos are not offensive, beautiful and can be covered up! : 5pts
- I have perfect straight teeth, no gap. : 5pts
Now add up your points! (if you couldn’t see, each statement is worth 5 points.) What is your mark out of 100%?
I scored 50% That’s right guys! I am a solid 5/10. Please form an orderly queue. Here is the breakdown of my answers :
- The oval face shape is seen as the ideal face shape! When you contour your face you are actually trying to make it oval! Now my face is round asf so 0pts here!
- I gave myself points for this as I do not have thin lips! However when I smile they do sometimes look it.. but that may be due to my massive “show teeth” smile. Now this is the one facial feature as a black girl, its ok to have apparently so!
- I am deffo not! More size 10 at a push actually a 12. From day one a skinny waist has always been the idea of perfection! Again no points here! Now as long as you are a healthy weight if you are above or below this who actually cares? everyone apparently…
- This is actually a yes from me! however not sure it counts without the skinny waist but hey I am taking the points.
- I actually do not have a big ass! It’s just standard. In fact not naming any names *cough* Ollie Dean once said You’re black and you don’t even have a black girls ass! Sorry to disappoint guys!
- You may have seen but just to clarify I fall into the slightly saggy even though they are natural still being called slaggy category of this.
- Now I am scoring myself a 2.5 on this one because it’s not too big but yet not seen as thin enough! Better get contouring.
- Just scraped this at 5ft5!
- I think they’re pretty decent.
- Again pretty decent! I have naturally bushy brows so I guess after a trim/wax they are a winner.
- Again a 2.5! I do have perfect curls! But only after I first wash my hair then hellooo frizz!
- uh no. enough said.
- I would say I am probably seen as this, 5pts!
- My nails are always done!
- Sometimes yes sometimes no! again 2.5
- I always break out!
- questionable… 2.5?
- For now yes! in future.. maybe not…
- I have full on gap! In fact I think every family member on both sides also has one!
Now let’s get serious… This is exactly what media has been force feeding us our whole lives. Focusing on the racial specific ones, only 2 and a bit racial stereotypical features are deemed as ok and beautiful! Like what the hell! So my lips and (if I had one) big ass is ok but it is not if I am too dark or have a “black” nose! There was a time I would contour my nose so much that some of my photos don’t even look like me! And I tan super quick so as soon as sunlight hits I apparently turn ugly? My curls are only ok if they are seen as perfect ringlets. Just wow.
Black women are frequently made to feel ugly in media especially if they have these features. Yet white people like Kylie Jenner take a couple features and people seem to forget and think that it’s all good and has balanced out. Ask yourself this; the Kylie Jenner Lip challenge, would it have been so popular if it was just seen as a black feature? The way we are manipulated into seeing perfection is scary asf. When I was at school I got laughed at for having greasy hair as I use to go in with my hair tied back. When actually it wasn’t greasy it had hair oil/curl activator in to make sure my hair stayed nourished as my hair being mixed is naturally dry/frizzy. I still use the same oil! without it I’d be screwed! I think we can all agree women as a whole have it tough! However as race is not accurately and freely represented in the media those of other races are often discriminated against and seen as ugly.
Why should I be told that some of my cultural qualities are beautiful but others are not? Why should I be told I am “Pretty, you know, for a black girl.” Why is this ok to be said to me yet it is not ok to call a white girl ugly? Why should I accept any of this! And the answer is I shouldn’t. It is not ok. And yet I am lucky. As you have probably seen from our chat show the darker you get the more the struggle when it comes to beauty and products!
That is why I would like everyone to make a stand. Even if you are white! Haha. That’s right another mini campaign if you will? Share with me your 100% imperfectly Beautiful test scores! Either comment them on this post, on the Facebook post! or even share your selfies and score on insta with the hashtags: #MyImperfectSelfie #YouArePrettyForABlackGirl and tag me @iyalouisas. We can be Imperfectly Beautiful together! Together we can start to recognise “imperfection” is good and beauty is not in a box!