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Like many of you, we’re still fuming about Alessandra Stanley‘s tasteless New York Times op-ed depicting Shonda Rhimes and her Black characters as the “Angry Black woman.” However, another upsetting statement made by Stanley was labeling Viola Davis “less classically beautiful.”

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Stanley writes:

“As Annalise, Ms. Davis, 49, is sexual and even sexy, in a slightly menacing way, but the actress doesn’t look at all like the typical star of a network drama. Ignoring the narrow beauty standards some African-American women are held to, Ms. Rhimes chose a performer who is older, darker-skinned and less classically beautiful than Ms. Washington, or for that matter Halle Berry, who played an astronaut on the summer mini-series ‘Extant.’”

What does she mean by less classically beautiful?

Classically is defined as traditionally accepted and I’ll make the correlation Stanley is stating Davis is not the “traditional” standard of beauty and will not be accepted by mainstream America because her skin hue is a few shades darker than Kerry Washington and Halle Berry, who is biracial. With that statement Stanley reiterates the notion that Black women, more specifically dark-skinned Black women, are not as beautiful as Blonde hair, blue-eyed, fair-skinned women. As if we all aspire to the white standard of beauty.

While Stanley maintains her stance saying the article is praising Rhimes and Davis, I’ll maintain my stance the article is more damaging than ever. Not only is it racist and diminishes the talents of Rhimes and Davis, but also it suggests to young Black girls unless they are fair-skinned they are not as beautiful. As if we need more examples of colorism aiding to divide and conquer the Black community.

Check out the many beautiful responses under the hashtag #LessClassicallyBeautiful

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  • @vintage

    Your assumptions out of this world. I’m tired of black women – and black people – attacking everybody else over an opinion while not confronting the issues in our own backyards. It’s beyond old. Given the way black people have reacted to my strong, African features, I didn’t flinch when she wrote that Viola Davis is less than classically beautiful. I took that to mean that she was speaking to the convention that already exists versus stating her own opinion.

    I’m big enough to give people a chance to explain themselves. In my world, one where races, ethnicities and cultures can do more healing through dialogue than “on our own,” I am not damning someone to hell over a few words.

    “You sound mad because other Black women have enough self respect to counter this foolishness. That’s ok, but if other Black women want to respond to this vitriol you might just want to step aside and take notes, since you don’t have the heart to do it yourself.”

    Ha. I’ve been addressing this issue with…wait for it…BLACK PEOPLE my whole life, boo. Y’all can get mad at a white woman for pointing out a convention that already exists and continues to exist largely through the mentalities of black folks to your hearts’ content. Yet it doesn’t change a thing.

    Tired of these rants, targeted everywhere else but in.

  • $0.02

    I’ll agree that there are Black people who have probably said their share of things about Viola’s looks, and if they said something similar to what the Times writer said, it may not get as much buzz. Even worse, if it were Mediatakeout, you’d see a list of insults, smh.

    I love that Viola really gets to shine on this show. She’s played a maid, a single mother, an outreach worker…roles that you don’t equate with glam or power, not to say these roles are insignificant, but who really aspires to them…Now with this role, here she is, an attorney and a professor, married to another professor at a prestige college, and her sidepiece is a cute detective. She smart, savvy, and powerful on this show. I love it.