It wasn’t long after a picture of 7-month-old Blue Ivy made its way to the Internet that the slander started. Facebook and Twitter posts lamented the fact that Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s daughter was starting to look like her father. There were mean-spirited jabs about her inheritance of his “big lips” and jaws, and prayers that a “wide nose” wasn’t in her future. Here are only a few of the comments I saw online:
Beyoncé really screwed up, having a baby by Jay-Z. His nose and lips are never going to look right on a girl.
Let’s pray Beyoncé’s genes kick in as B.I.C. gets older. All the money and talent in the world won’t take away from having Jay-Z’s features.
Nappy-headed kid. Wish Beyoncé had married a nice-looking man instead of Jay-Z.
The criticism of full lips, “nappy” hair, and wide noses in our communities is weighted. Some people would have you believe attractiveness is subjective, but the truth is our collective view of facial features is tangled in the web of racism. In our social imagination, European features set the standard for what’s beautiful, rendering broad noses and big lips ugly.
Writer Akiba Solomon also tackled the issue in her article for Colorlines, “On Baby Blue Ivy Carter and the Alleged Ugliness of Blackness.” She writes:
I knew if indulged in even a smidgen more about this little girl, I’d find myself walking among stunted souls who traffic in the idea that the full lips, large eyes, broad nose, and dark brown skin of a Jay-Z is inherently ugly […] I hope, in our media-saturated, appearance-obsessed society that is still so wounded by white supremacist aesthetics, baby Blue will find peace and joy in the simple act of living, no matter what she looks like.
Demetria Lucas echoed Solomon’s sentiments in a piece on Essence.com, “Real Talk: Do We Believe All Black Is Beautiful?”:
If some of us are very honest, we’ll acknowledge that there are only certain “black” physical features that we as a collective find attractive. Curves? A blessing and curse. Full lips? Eh … depends on how full. Broad nose? On women, not at all. On men? Some get a pass, but not Jay-Z. Kinky hair? Not so much. There’s a reason most black women “prefer” perms, and even a lot of natural girls spend an inordinate amount of time and product trying to reconfigure their coils into curls.
It’s fair that some people simply don’t view Jay-Z as handsome. But when the public excoriates a baby for developing potentially “black” features, it’s our self-hatred that’s rearing its ugly head.