Black IS Beautiful. Psychology Today article, where's the science?

Dear Readers,

You've pretty much been living under a rock today if you haven't already heard about the Psychology Today article Why Are Black Women Rated Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women, But Black Men Are Rated Better.  

The article by Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa has since been taken down. The move of a coward, if you ask me. Either you stand by it, or you don’t. And if you don’t because you felt that you were wrong – APOLOGIZE. 

Dr. Kanazawa is apparently known for controversial, racist bull in science clothing. Why Psychology Today and, apparently, the London School of Economics, would want to associate themselves with him is quite puzzling. 

I’m not offended by the study, per se. My issue is more on the fact that he’s touting these results as fact when his methodology doesn’t lend itself to being factual. At least what little was included in the article – which was actually nothing. While I did sleep through most of Psych Stats, I do recall the importance of sample size, effect-size and random sampling on statistically significant results. All things that were not made clear in the article.

Adults can read the study and come to their own conclusions about the truth of it. However, that’s not the case for younger girls. What he’s saying is NOT anything new to black women. However, labeling it as scientific truth simply makes it even more difficult for parents to continue encouraging their little girls to see the beauty in themselves that this country tends to ignore – see any magazine rack for confirmation. 

There’s a deep seeded issue about the attractiveness of typical African features – darker skin, wide nose, short hair, etc...- that has plagued the black community for years. From reading lots of actual scientific research, anecdotal reports, and my ownexperience, I say that a good percentage of the girls who fall in this category have dealt with – and possibly continue to deal with – self-esteem issues because of this topic. 

There’s been a real push in the African American community to ensure that all shades and features of black are celebrated. However, it’s a tough battle to win (especially for people raising young girls) when so many messages say otherwise. It also makes it difficult that some of our own people share the same view as Dr. Kanazawa. I can think of many instances growing up when I heard the statement "you'd be so much prettier if you weren't so dark," or "stop staying out in the sun so much. Do you want to get even darker?"

This issue is one that will continue to exist until we force it out. The next time someone makes a comment (innocent or not) like "she's pretty for a dark skin sista," it might be worth having an open dialogue (don't attack!) about the sentiments behind those words. 

As for those of you who are raising young black children (especially girls and especially adopted black children in non-black families), I can't stress enough the importance of celebrating their full beauty - everything from intelligence to physical features. The more you do, the better your child will be armed to fight the words of the Dr. Kanazawas of the world. 



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