The Black Beauty Standard

by Tami Winfrey Harris

One undercurrent to the recent hyper-focus on black women’s bodies has been the idea that while the majority culture has strict beauty standards, black folks just don’t give a damn. In our own communities, black women’s bodies–whatever they look like–are A-OK.

*side-eye*

Not sharing the majority culture’s beauty standards is not the same as not having any at all. The black community has its own standard for what women should look like. It’s not more relaxed and it can be just as oppressive as the more mainstream standard.

Flip through King or any black-targeted lad-style magazine and there is no doubt you will see a standard at play. (Standards for women’s bodies are generally predicated on the male gaze.) It is, for sure, a standard that is different from the Eurocentric mainstream, but it is a standard: small waist, round booty, juicy thighs, boobies optional.

And just so we get this clear, round and juicy do not equal fat. In fact, many black women work out in order to achieve this standard. On Buffy the Body’s fitness website, b.Nomics, on an article about exercises that yield a more ample and rounded rear, a woman named Kristina asks:

I recently started working out. I already have a big butt but want it bigger and more “bubbly.” How can I work out, not lose the booty I already have, get a bigger booty and NOT a bigger waist? I’m so confused. Please help, Buffy!!

Compare the fitness aesthetic at b.Nomics to that in this video by Howcast on how to get a smaller behind:

Different standards, but two, clear standards, nonetheless.

And just like the mainstream standard, there are women dying or harming themselves to fit the popular black aesthetic. From Rolling Out:

“The quest to have a perfect posterior was almost deadly for a California woman who became a multiple amputee after the botched procedure. April Brown of Los Angeles had multiple limbs removed after living for five years in “excruciating pain” from silicone butt injections. The mother and former cosmetologist had her legs and part of her arms removed to save her life after doctors reported that she had multiple infections from the substance she placed into her body. “They call it butt injections,” she told a local NBC news station. “These things are done at pumping parties. They call it medical grade silicone, but a lot of it is industrial grade silicone.”

The problem with the current narrative about black bodies is two-fold. One, in our hyper-body conscious and fat-phobic culture, the meme that black people have no standards is used to otherize and denigrate black culture. And two, as long we pretend that there is no black beauty standard, then women, like April Brown, will continue to be oppressed by the thing we claim doesn’t exist. If we don’t acknowledge the black aesthetic, then we cannot move–as the mainstream should also move–toward celebrating a diversity of natural, healthy bodies as beautiful–big booties, little booties and everything in between.

  • http://www.itsoftenbeensaid.wordpress.com Sasha

    This standard is disgusting and any woman who tries to achieve it is a sad individual. I understand wanting to look good but going as far as getting silicone injected into your butt….by someone without a medical lisence is crazy.

  • Yb

    I thought the black beauty standard was to look as far from black as possible when it comes to facial features, hair, skin. Etc. or to just not be black. :/ *shrugs*

  • Merci

    I have heard plenty of black women tell me they don’t want to work out because they don’t want to loose there rear end. As a black women I find this ridiculous. There are standards on black beauty that are equally oppressive.

  • MrTruthTeller

    I love sizes 12 sistah’s :)

  • jamesfrmphilly

    if the inside is beautiful the outside will follow……

  • kidole

    think kim kardashian!

  • MsQuita

    I am VERY petite (5′ 0″ and 105lbs) and live in the deep south…. every since I was in high school, I have had males tell me that I am so pretty but to small/skinny/bony for them to date, it has always bothered me. I even have black women telling me to eat more or even say that it will be hard for me to get a man. It is a shame how everyone expects all black women to be thick. On the other hand, I have white women tell me all the time how cute and gorgeous my figure is and how they would pay to look like me, lol. It is amazing how I get two different responses to my shape. I am in my late twenties, and just now learning to love my body.

  • Nicole

    The other day I was at Macys in the juniors department a department that caters to teenage girls and young women and I overheard a woman asking the sales associate for some assistance picking out clothes for her 8 year old granddaughter. She then went on to say that her granddaughter is thick. A few minutes later the FAT granddaughter turns the corner.

    A lot of black woman think their think but their just fat.

  • CurlySue

    Grrrr, where is my comment?!

  • CurlySue

    Don’t even sweat it. You sound adorable. Trying to live up to others’ body expectations is a formula for disappointment. Just do you and realize that your slim figure will likely stand the test of time better than many who are “thick”.

    I apologize if this is a double post. My first comment went the way of that one sock in the dryer.

  • CurlySue

    That’s a damn shame. No reason for an 8 year old to be overweight. And to refer to her as “thick” is sexualizing the overweight figure of a child. Seems inappropriate on the part of the grandmother.

  • http://www.wix.com/qvadmgmt/glaciers-icebergs/apps/blog Kat

    I agree with all of you. There ARE unrealistic standards that are set for black woman pertaining to body image. These standards are not just set by black men, but black woman as well. Woman being more of the culprit of the two.

    What deeply bothers me, is that the “average” body of a black woman is being compared to size of a very large (abnormal in appearance) rear that is not achieved though exercise. I am laughing my BUTT off right now! Seriously, C’mon, that is absurd.

    It is a medical fact, in relation to exercise, that you can not loose weight in ONE place of your body. So, you cannot say “I have a big butt and I don’t want to loose it if I exercise.” Ha! Sorry darlin’ you will loose it. I know this from experience. In the past I foolishly said the same thing.

    Now I’m older & wiser. Health is far more important that still being the one that is looked at that is lovingly teased for having the “big derriere” by family & friends. Your body is ONE unit, if you exercise properly, and incorporate a healthy diet there is no way your buttox will be the size of Buffy, Nikki Minaj, or Kim Kardashians’ of the bunch with a flat stomach and extremely thick thighs. It’s not going to happen. Many of these woman are not being honest as to what they did attained their body.

    Kat Kelly

  • Anon

    Oh goodness. Where is this booty madness coming from? Is it that serious in the streets?

    From Ms. Quita— ” I have had males tell me that I am so pretty but to small/skinny/bony for them to date, it has always bothered me.” First off, any dude who says that you’re too small for them to date just did you a favor. He’s already let you know that he’s not interested, and that he’s just looking for a body type not a person. So YOU DON’T NEED TO BE CONCERNED about ole’ dude. He’ll be some other woman’s problem.

    Just stay fit, and do you.

  • Anon

    Yeah me too. I’ve had men hit on me for my hair type alone. I don’t really buy that it is THAT serious to have a large behind. Much less a saggy one from the folks who don’t want to work out in fear of losing it.

  • Chloe

    agreed!!!

    Ms. Minaj is a plastic doll.

    Hell half of these so called models (video vixens) have had some form of alteration done to them. How can you be so small in the waist but thick in the hips/thighs/butt region without even having a ounce of tummy??? It’s not possible!! When you work out you lose ALL OVER not just in one specific area, but if you had it surgically altered previously YOU CAN work out to maintain it so that you won’t lose it.

  • Chloe

    Honestly, I never saw having a big rump/thick thighs and hips as being sexy to me ever since I was a little girl.

    I grew up in the late 80′s era when video models actually looked like models… Slim and trim — no huge booty with thick thighs and hips. Me personally I like my physique when I am at my fittest, I have a nice shape but I’ve been told I got a booty like a becky — it’s there but nothing to drool over. Shrug *lol*

    smh.

  • Rochelle

    No one should put their lives in danger just to impress a man or reach a certain body type, but those saying that a large behind is a burden or unhealthy are being ridiculous. I mean really. Black woman have behind. Those that don’t wish they did. Yes you can have a flat tummy thick thighs and a small waist. And yes it is the IDEAL body because it is the hour glass figure that MOST (not just blk men) covet. You can achieve that even if your breast are on the smaller side because of the curve of the hips. Please stop being jealous if your butt and your back are the same thing. I will never loose my butt no matter how much I work out and I am extremely happy about that. Who wants to look like a little boy. I guess a big butt is only ok for your boy body (no body) type chick unless it is on your white idol Kim K. B#tch please.

  • Wow!

    The New York times says that black men encourage black women to be out of shape. I have heard some sisters say as much in the last 10 years. On another website I read a sister’s testimonial (with many comments affirming her) about how black men’s desire for thinner women was effect her dating life. She is a bigger woman who seems to be having a hard time finding men that desire her body type.

    Which is it? Is it both? I am not denying that culturally black men may have a standard – every culture does; ask an Asian Woman you know – but it seems like black men are getting hit from both ends of the blame game on this and it’s a little dizzying. And I am guessing that it may also be why some men with good intentions tune these conversations out because it seems like there is no right answer and that everything (black) men do or choose leads to some pathology.

    And so, I ask questions to find balance. Are men not being affected by the desires of women? Do we really believe that buttons downs came in style only because Jay-Z said so? Are all the penis enlargement gels and Hair stimulants and muscle enlargement surgeries and adverts on T.V. not a response to what women SAY they want or at the least what men think women want? Should women reconsider their desires? Sure, I know women can be more flexible here but in my peer group it tends to happen only after times goes by and th clock ticks and the ideal feels like it ain’t gonna happen.

    Will we ever have these discussions from a place that encourages a discussion as opposed to the same good-side/bad-side gender war? I think there is more mutual deconstruction going on than our loyalties allow us to admit.

  • Rochelle

    Anon i hope you don’t think that your hair is that important either because it is not. You sound like your arse and back are the same thing. LOL.

  • Rochelle

    You should never change your body for anyone. Putting your life in danger to enhance your looks is foolish, but you guys on here sound like a bunch of jealous broads. Yes having a big booty is something that blk women have, those who don’t are just jealous. No matter how much I work out, I would still have a round a#Z#Z. I would not have it any other way. Point blank. Having an hour glass figure is the IDEAL for man to seek in their woman. Round hips, a round booty and a flat tummy is what makes the perfect hour glass figure. You don’t even have to have much in the breast dept because the roundness of the hips, booty and thighs. Your a#Z#Z and your back should not be the same. And I feel for any woman trying to justify that boy body type is really just trying to make themselves feel better. I mean really who wants to look like a boy if you’re a woman?

  • apple

    the black beauty standard is:

    hair: must be anything but nappy, straight,curly,wavy, just not nappy, but if nappy must be really long to compensate… triumphs skin tone and body

    face: european features, or just be pretty but if your light skin, doesn’t matter see below
    skin: the lighter the better, each lighter shade triumphs the shade before, skin shade, triumphs all facial features but sometimes triumphs body or hair..depends

    body: body of a black girl/woman, curvy in all the right places or even wrong places, as long as you have a big a** its all that matters, can triumph lack of curves in other parts of the body as well as triumph obesity but least likely to triump hair or skin tone

  • Qofn

    @Merci

    Oppressive? I wish people would stop throwing that word around. You sound foolish. A grave insult to the women in this world who actually do suffer oppression.

  • Rochelle

    Ask any woman if they would want an hour glass figure with a round booty. i want to see who would say no. I’ll wait…..LOL. Oh I see, I guess by you jealous broads standards, that type of frame should only be coveted when its on your white idol Kim K. Blk women are sometimes so jealous, they are their own worst enemy.

  • Muse

    Let’s be careful to not bash those who do have ‘thick’ butts, hips and thighs. Most of the women in my family have just that with small waists and flat stomachs. It’s genetics. Not EVERY woman with a desired waist to hip ratio bought it. I sense a bit of hate….

    Anyway, whether you’re curvy, slim, thick, skinny, juicy etc, just be happy with what you have

  • apple

    happened to me too all through my adolescence,however white girls/women told me i had the perfect body …eventually i picked up weight into a curvy skinny girl, and now all those “thick” girls are fat cows…

  • CurlySue

    I always thought proportionate curves were most attractive to men.

    “You don’t even have to have much in the breast dept because the roundness of the hips, booty and thighs.” I always thought it looked strange for a woman to have an enormous donk/thighs and little bee stings up top lol. Like, the upper body of a child and the lower body of an adult. Lol a new breed of centaur.

  • anon25

    @Curly Sue

    I would agree with you but I don’t see why you have to bring “thick” girls down in order to give positive advice, it’s not necessary.

  • CurlySue

    @Anon. Sorry I wasn’t clear enough. I put the words “thick” in quotations because I was more speaking of overweight women who like to give advice to slim ones about how they can’t get a man etc. It was more a play on how the word thick has become a catch-all for overweight/obese women.

  • LuvIt289

    Agree w/Muse
    Yup. We need to create our own standard of beauty, regardless of what others think. #YOLO!
    Stay healthly: emotionally,physically, mentally, & spiritually!

  • Lady P

    Great comment! We must be happy with what we have. It is genetics so the best steps to take are to exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

    One of my nieces at that age of 12 could have been a video vixen if allowed (thank goodness not). She inherited those “thick” butts, hips and thighs from the genes that run in our family. In her case, it just developed quicker. I do teach her now to adopt a healthy lifestyle because if not, it can turn into fat just as quick.

  • Anon

    @Rochelle, I don’t but thanks for playing. Reading comphrehension is a good skill to acquire BTW.

  • Anon

    Whew chile! Well, all I can say is at least you like yourself! That’s always key.

    I’ve just never experienced this “booty madness” that is supposedly so necessary. I thought “Baby got Back” was where it was at, not simply junk in the trunk.

  • Pseudonym

    So true! It’s like a dancehall song lyric: “Her face brown (meaning Indian) but her whole body black!”

    That is definitely what’s hot in the streets right now: a black woman who doesn’t look black in the face, but has a black body with big round behind.

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    I’m sorry, but I LOVE donks, natural ones i.e.! There is nothing as beautiful as a DONK. It puts the pow in that little black dress. I’m singing to mine right now!

    That white woman, trying to loose butt is cray! Pancake butts are NOT the business! Sorry!

  • binks

    I agree! Sometimes we as women can be our own worst critics and critics of other women when it comes to body images and to be honest I hear more women bash other women about their bodies and what they should look like more than men. Yes, men have a role to play but from my experience even though they have their “ideal” they don’t really care about the exact dimensions as long as the chick is hot for the most part…shrugs Personally, I never got the obsession with the big butt/thick thighs and yes I have them but I always wanted to trade it for a slimmer set in a minute but the grass is always greener right, I wish more people would focus on looking and achieving THEIR best bodies instead of trying to imitate someone’s else because nearly killing yourself or pumping and cutting yourself to fit someone’s else ideal or complete with someone’s else Photoshop/plastic surgery is dumb and really sad. And the worst thing is the majority of black women have killer bodies but we aren’t letting it show on a grand scale

  • Yulez

    I’m black. And I don’t like butts. Been trying to lose mine since elementary school! And no, I grew up in the hood.

  • MsQuita

    @CurlySue…. Thanks hun! Just as you said, I get so many compliments now from ladies I went to school with who have blown waaaaaaaayyyyyy up. I appreciate my size so much more. And this is no hate to my thick ladies, I think we are all beautiful, everyone has to learn to love themselves.

    @Apple….. that sounds like me. I went from skin and bones to slim with curves. I LOVE IT!!

  • Mo

    I love my (more Beyonce than Buffy) booty and “juicy” (to quote my bf) thighs. And yes, I work out, am in great shape and have a small waist and flat stomach. Some of us are naturally built like that (truly curvy, not fat) and love it. I could be in the gym 12 hours a day and still have hips, thighs and a booty. I find it sad that so many women don’t like their curves (or lack thereof), because I love mine and so does my man!

    Too many of us (no matter what our shape) seem to be invested in tearing each other down and insulting other body types to make ourselves feel better. If you’re slim, love your sexy slimness instead of calling curvier women “disgusting.” If you’re thick, love your sexy curves instead of calling other women “boys.” Stop the crash diets to slim down or milkshakes to thicken up and focus on eating healthy, exercising, and loving your beautiful body exactly the way it is.

  • Muse

    My point exactly!

  • MsQuita

    You are right. That was something I had to learn. All those years ago when I was in high school, I just felt rejected. Especially since majority of my friends were “thick” and getting all the attention. It’s all good now though, we live and learn.

  • MsQuita

    Yep, yep! You gotta love you.

  • Laugh

    So the grandmother was supposed to call her granddaughter FAT in Macy’s while nosey people were listening too. Please.

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    You should have grown up where I did, butts are worshiped! not objectified. There’s a spiritual element to it…..

    Hold on to that donk hun!! What’s the circumference doe?!

    PS:I’m a kray African girl, harmless and not looking to fight. Just wanting you to love your donk!

  • Just Me

    I feel you on this. I’m an “average” weight (5’8″ and 150lbs), and it’s shocking the difference between the response I get from black people and white people. Black people often call me “skinny,” “thin,” or “tiny” and tell me I need to eat more (insert name of soul food item here) to put some meat on my bones.

    Meanwhile, by white standards, I could stand to lose a few pounds. I’m right in the middle of where the two sides think I SHOULD be. It was confusing and bothered me for a while. I didn’t know if I should lose weight or gain weight. But as I get older and more comfy with myself (one of the perks of getting older), I realize that I don’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations except for my own. I know what I want MY ideal body to be, and I work toward that. I have a supportive husband who loves me and finds me attractive through “thick” and “thin” (pun intended), and if someone doesn’t like the way my body looks, they can kick rocks!

  • https://twitter.com/#!/clnmike Tonton Michel

    It’s curves, the ones who lack, thin or over weight, are the ones who complain. The standard for men has not change, old school coke bottle shape.

  • Nicole

    No she shouldn’t call her fat BUT she needs to combat the issue. Instead of calling her thick and embracing her weight she needs to take this little girl to meet with a nutritionalist and a doctor to get her to a healthy weight and help this little girl build healthy habits that she can carry throughout her life.

  • The Comment

    LMAO….. you should make a pamphlet out of this.

    I used to argue with people about being fit and obese. Thick vs. Skinny. I quit. I don’t care anymore. All I can do is cook my son good food and make sure I’m doing what I know I should do.

    Navigating the ignorance in the black community is tricky. Most error on the side of death while a minority of black folks do excel and avoid old ignorant slave driven mythological negro gospel which dictates you act as ignorant as possible to avoid accusations of acting white.

  • meh

    You sound so concerned for the health of a stranger! When do you pick up your angel wings, love? I agree with Laugh. No need for fat shaming in an article discussing the constrictive nature of black beauty standards.

  • meh

    Finally, some sanity in this thread.

  • grateful

    big sack of sh!t you’re tellin…

  • Kacey

    Agreed. The goals to look as far from black as possible without looking white (’cause then you’ve gone too darn far!)

  • grateful

    oh my gosh i had to laugh and smh at both of you, lol , right on the money lol!

    ;>)

    p.s. even if you have some/none of those attributes, just don’t start dating a nonblk man, all the “brothas” who didn’t want you before will be coming out of the woodwork to ask “why him?”

  • Bren82

    When I hear the word “thick” as it pertains to a body type, I do NOT envision a young child but a grown woman whom men would consider fertile. I agree that it was inappropriate for a grandmother to call her granddaughter “thick.” Why not “chubby?”” I mean, at least “chubby” sounds more appropriate and less sexual than “thick.”

  • Chnyere

    U right, YB…smh

  • C

    Well that is the standard set for BLACK WOMEN, by Black men and some Black women too but Black men are given more leeway, right?

  • C

    @pseudonym

    Brown or browning usually equals light skinned, not Indian.

  • http://[email protected] ndoto31

    I must say, after reading all of the comments, it seems like the “black beauty standard” is really more of a relative issue even within our own community. This. Is a little sad because all of us should be embraced. Im 27, with small behind, but a very large chesst, and European facial features. Ive been told that my shape was cute all of my life, but never really believed it; been encouraged to model even. And even with all of those compliments, I felt like my figure wasn’t acceptable because of what my male peers- black and white worshipped. I was always self-conscious because my posterior wasn’t supple. Genetics in my family just don’t produce the “desired” figure. So while its true, thaI t I wish my body was more “conventional” according to the Black standard, I learned that I must simply love what I have, and I do just that. After all, I’m not getting to many complaints ;) what

  • chanela

    actually i ssee TONS of women naturally like this. hispanic women are usually built this way. i see it everyday and i envy the hell out of them. they usually have a small waist,wide shapely hips,big butt, and skinny everything else. they put kim kardashian,beyonce and j lo to shame especially since they’re 100% naturally like that… then there are the OTHER women who are built with skinny legs and thighs and big everything else on top and shaped like a refrigerator. (how the eff does that happen?)

  • Dalili

    **Pardon me if this posts doubly, my previous post disappeared**

    This quote from Clarissa Pinkola-Estes’ Book Women Who Ran With Wolves sums it up for me:

    “To take much pleasure in a world filled with many kinds of beauty is a joy in life to which all women are entitled. To support only one kind of beauty is to be somehow unobservant of nature. There cannot be only one kind of songbird, only one kind of pine tree, only one kind of wolf. There cannot be one kind of baby, one kind of man, or one kind of woman. There cannot be one kind of breast, one kind of waist, one kind of skin.”

  • chanela

    asking about men won’t do anything. we all know that men aren’t held to any standards at all really when it comes to appearance. all they need is a six pack and a shower and they’re done. that is very very easily attainable

    meanwhile you have women being crucified for gaining weight after giving birth… GIVING BIRTH!! women have to be light skinned, with color eyes, small waist,wide hips, big butt, big breasts, gap between their thighs,nails done,long natural straight hair. women’s beauty standard is based off of genetics. it’s not as easy as going to the gym and doing situps to gain the impossible ass body considered attractive.

  • Yulez

    @African Mami, LOL, I grew up in a family of women with flat butts…so they were relentless when it came to wide end. And my butt garnered the attention of unsavory men. I figured if I had a smaller butt, I’d attract a different caliber of male.

    Guess I gotta embrace it. Can afford lipo to erase it…

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    Girl, even the flattest of butts, will get hit on by douche bags. So yes, EMBRACE dat donk ma!!!!! If I had your donk, shoo! I’d be working iiiiiiiiiit whenever I’m walking!

  • Elle Michelle

    @Ms. Quita: I can relate. I’m 5’3″ and 110 lbs. While I haven’t received blatant criticism from black men regarding my looks, I have received it from black women… “Oh my God, you are so skinny!”, “Skinny minnie”, “You don’t have boobs, a butt, nothing!” (my butt’s not flat, it’s small… my chest isn’t flat—I wear a 34B—it’s small.) My own sister asked me “Are you eating?” which is ridiculous because I’ve ALWAYS been thin… but I get so many compliments from white women! They love me… “You are beautiful!”, “You’re so good looking”, “I love your style.”

    I’m 24 and just starting to appreciate my body and accept my beauty too. Keep your head up, Ms. Quita!

    I wish more people would accept and respect that people come in a plethora of shapes and sizes. Beauty doesn’t have one look.

  • Elle Michelle

    Clap, clap. Bravo.

    There is no need for us to criticism each other’s body types.

  • Elle Michelle

    Love it! Thanks for sharing.

    My dad has been telling me to read that book. You inspired me to check it out.

  • NY’s Finest

    @Pseudonym: That lyric means her face is bleached but the rest of her body isn’t.

  • Wow!

    “. all they need is a six pack and a shower and they’re done. that is very very easily attainable”

    If it is so easy to get, why are women who are out of shape and complaining about the ideal not out there, getting it? And not every women out of shape is having a child. In regards to what the black men I know want what Tonton said seems more fair and accurate.

    With all do respect Chanela, your response seems like another version of the lame “man up” mantra and seems like an attempt to be dismissive to the real questions I am asking. Cool. You need not reply. Lets say we agree to disagree. Good luck out here.

  • gwan gyal

    @yulez

    I had the same butt issue. I did not like the attention that I got. However, it got better when I began running 6 years ago. It doesn’t get smaller but just more toned and lifted. I went from a 12 to an 8.

  • gwan gyal

    gosh…I hope this comment actually posts this time.

    Anywho, body image gets on my nerve sometimes. It oppresses women and has us focusing on trivial things when we can use that energy on other things.

    I grew up sorta thick I guess..not fat..but always had a bigger lower half than the top. I was not a ‘fass’ girl at all so I hated the attention that I got and guys thinking I was older than I looked.

    Getting into fitness really helped me with my confidence level. I still have a bigger butt and legs b/c of my body type…but I am a comfortable size 8..or 10 depending on the brand. I know that my comfort with my body is increasing as I get older and I love it.

  • Dalili

    You are welcome! I read it years ago and it still inspires me today. Happy reading! :-)

  • http://www.whattamisaid.com Tami (Writer)

    Beautiful!

  • Lakyn

    As a biracial girl, I’ve always found my body image conflicted. I grew up in “black” schools, but, started at a more diverse school in ninth grade. I’ve never considered myself “curvy,” until someone pointed it out recently, and while many of my male peers of all colors have always found my frame appealing–large breasts on a small frame, wider hips than most but scrawny little legs and absolutely no butt to speak of–I never really saw myself fitting into any ideal. I used to admire the thicker, black girls I went to middle school with, but once I started high school, battled with anorexia. It’s weird, seeing such different ideals from each of my backgrounds, and kinda ruined my self-esteem for a while. I think, like most commenters, that all body types should be accepted by everyone, particularly among our young girls, regardless of race. We don’t need our babies growing up confused about what they “should” look like.

  • RightOn

    I’m sorry Kat,

    I beg to differ concerning your last comment, some women have genes that do permit them to have flat stomachs, small waists, big butts, and thick thighs (I have many in my family, and also friends, and they were simply born like that)…however, it is true that MOST celebrities, not just Nicki, Kim, and Buffy are lying about what they did to achieve theirs.

  • http:www.chicnoirhouse.blogspot.com Chic Noir

    women, like April Brown, will continue to be oppressed by the thing we claim doesn’t exist

    Huh?

    I don’t think it’s oppressive.

    You have a choice to put those chemicals into your body. I think it’s more of a question of some women being thirsty for male attention. Women just need to get over it.

    There will always be another woman who is better looking than you are. All that you can do is be the best you, you can be within the genetic framework your parents gave you.

  • http:www.chicnoirhouse.blogspot.com Chic Noir

    Oh goodness. Where is this booty madness coming from? Is it that serious in the streets?

    It’s coming from the rag mags, the rap videos(TV& youtube), and the clubs. In other words, women are noticing the women men are breaking their necks to look at & want some of that attention too.

    I always state that blk women should limit their exposure to that sort of madness because it’s not healthy. ESP if you’re the sensitive type, that type of blk woman should curtail her exposure the madness.

  • http:www.chicnoirhouse.blogspot.com Chic Noir

    Chloe,
    I’ve noticed how video models have changed over time too. Blk artist used high fashion blk models in their videos during the early 90′s.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJEbfeG2oAE&ob=av3e

    ^^^^ How many blk models from this video can you recognize? A few are still around and looking good. They are a testament to what a sister can look like if she takes good care of herself.

    Someone where in the mid aughts the body type of video models went into the more Sara Bartman type.

  • wow

    Yes, I remember when I lost quite a bit of weight in college, and while white folks were gushing about how great I looked (of course, I was lamenting the loss of my usually juicier ass), black people were telling me I needed to thicken up.

    Since then, I have, and I feel great about it. I don’t know if I feel so good about it because my shape falls within the standard of how black women are “ideally” supposed to look, and as someone who moves in circles with a lot of white people (as well as black, but those worlds seem to be separated), I use that as a way to hold on to an element of “blackness.” It’s tricky, to say the least.

  • LaLa Woman

    I am a 5’5″, size 2/4 Caribbean woman with a small bottom, which has recently gotten smaller and more toned with exercise. I LOVE my small butt and wouldn’t in a million years want a big bubble butt or thick thighs that are supposedly valued in the Black community- its just not my aesthetic. I think that small, petite and slightly curvy is sexy. And I know a lot of Black men and women who feel the same.

  • Yay!

    I do appreciate your body confidence, but it sounds like you’re describing a “pear” or “guitar” shape which I personally find quite lovely where there is definition between the waist and the hips.

    An hourglass figure has balance between the top and bottom as the hips/butt and shoulders/bust must be very close in measurement, but the waist must be at least 10 ” smaller than either of the measurements.

  • Alyssa

    @Pseudonym that lyric is about bleaching.

  • Cece

    It is possible to have a small waist with thick thighs. I see quite a few women of other races do it. Exercise does burn fat all over, but Certain exercise can increase and maintain muscle in certain areas ie: squat .

  • lulu

    there aint that women that look like in real life- if they do they have celluitie and stretch marks to go with it- any way bw must be doing well- because there are plenty of black women giving birth, have husbands and boyfriends and they dont look like a king centerfold

  • TJ

    You are the problem. Why do you have to say “bubble butt?” Because you have a small butt. It makes me wonder if you really love your small frame or if you learned that you have no choice and have decided to insult others to bring yourself some esteem. You know many others who feel that way? The 100 people of African descent that you know hardly constitutes a majority.

    The problem is-how do we embrace ourselves and others without diminishing others and ourselves?

  • The Comment

    Well golly! You limit your options to dating a black man who wants a donkey booty and long hair and this and that and a whole lotta other impossible sh*t….well then you deserve to be miserable.

  • EssDot323

    +1

  • R Berry

    In response to the first few paragraphs of this article, most black women have increased their confidence level. Now they are becoming more physically open with their bodies. One thing we are not realizing is that our race does not have some of the traditional hangups as other races. I am sure I can get plenty of examples of how women of other cultures are forced to dress the way they dress. I know without a doubt if some of those traditional values were dropped there would be a lot more booty woppin’, backside droppin’ and a lot more drinks being knocked off the tables when they go by. (Blame some of this stuff on the cell phone camera, ya’ll know who you are).

  • Mel

    I agree with many thing you said. But it is true that there are some women who can lose weight in one of their areas and not the others. I actually happen to look like the “black standard”. And I have since I was 16. And Ias much as I try to always embrace my body I can’t deny that I hate the attention and I also feel as though that many black women striving to look like this standard have ni clue what it’s like to deal with the attention and the negative comments men make. I just hope all of us can learn to embrace how we look naturally.

  • Nikura

    Its not impossible to gain a bigger booty. You can get your glute muscles to grow larger through years of heavy weight lifting and a bodybuilder type diet. The problem with this is that you’re butt becomes firmer and tighter from all the exercise and isn’t as soft and plush as its ideally supposed to be, so you really can’t win either way lol

    It some ways the black ideal for beauty is more unattainable that the mainstream one.

  • Iam2icee

    I am 5’1 and 190lbs, bi-racial. I have the majority of my weight in my thighs, boobs and backside. I have the traditional coke bottle shape, light skinned and long natural curly hair. Most of the women in my family have thick thighs, big butts and small waists. Some things cannot be helped.

    My biggest struggle since kids is getting the stomach as flat as it used to be. If I didnt see black mainstream standard being portrayed as flat stomach, big butt, thick thighs, long hair and light skinned, and the attention those women get, I might not care as much. Call me shallow but I enjoy the extra attention I get with the shape I already have. Every woman wants to be desired, found attractive and be flattered by a little extra attention every now an then. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that necessarily. The problem is when you take drastic or harmful steps to obtain it.

    I am always amazed at the standards the public projects though. In the white community or mainstream community I am fat, in the black community I am thick and curvy. Its too much work keeping up with which one is better. Be who you are and be happy with what you have!

  • http://yahoo.com ja sassy

    stop the butt injection w women and let blk women have their god given features without copying and the lip plumping is just ridiculous and the tanning to get brown skin.. but you people hate us .. if so , then stay how you were born!

  • http://yahoo.com ja sassy

    but its funny how w people make fun of black women thick bodies but now they are injecting and padding and got the nerve to call themselves thick… when we black say thick we mean like Ashanti ..not w girls injecting and calling themselves thick.. stop the copying.

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