Colorism is still a humongous issue in the black community here in the United States and around the world. Though it doesn’t always feel like it, great strides have been made against valuing people’s worth according to how light their skin is. A shocking February 1966 Ebony Magazine cover shows just how accepted it used to be to unquestioningly uphold black women with European features as the standard and pinnacle of beauty, while erasing dark skinned black women altogether.
The insane thing is that Ebony was actually PRAISED for this
piece of shit article in its Letters to the Editor section;
“Like a million other young men, I enjoyed your February, 1966 article, “Are Negro Girls Getting Prettier?” Of course, the answer is yes. However I felt the pictures were geared to one area. Except for five, all the pictures shown were taken around Maryland or Washington, D. C. Just about everyone knows that some of the loveliest girls in the United States are from Virginia. Next time, send your photographer to Virginia State. I am sure he will have more than enough pictures, if he only photographs the AKAs there. ‑Thomas S. Brown”
However, there were some
people with some damn sense detractors.
“How dare you? We Negro women are the only women in the world who don’t get any praise for our beauty. Now you decide to write an article called, “Are Negro Girls Getting Prettier?” We’ve been pretty all along. Just up until a few years ago we had no access to cosmetics, wigs, etc. White women have been using these things for years, and could afford them I might add. I suggest you rephrase your article to: “Are Negro People (male or female) Getting Smarter?” According to the article you published, no — dumber. ‑Miss Gerju Hall
Your February 1966 issue of the magazine asks the question: “Are Negro Girls Getting Prettier?” Why don’t you put some Negro girls on your front page so we can see (instead of the half-white)? Are you ashamed of the Negro girl? Or do you go along with the white man’s premise that a Negro can only be good-looking when he/she is mixed with the white race? ‑Mrs. G. M. Daves
The cover of your (Feb.) issue delivered today made me (and a lot of other people I’ll wager) wince. It should be titled “Are Negro Girls Getting Whiter?” Come to my high school and I’ll show you some girls to photograph who will illustrate, I believe, that Negro girls have always been pretty. ‑Peggy Glenn”
So what exactly did the article talk about? According to a summary from the African American Literature Book Club blog the article discusses African American women’s perceived improvement in “charm and beauty” thanks to better nutrition and grooming including (you guessed it) hair straightening.
The article focuses on the improvements in the beauty, health and personality of African American women. According to a survey, the African American women are considered to have improved in their charm and beauty. The medical specialists think that better nutrition and the grooming knowledge have contributed to the improvement in their beauty. Edward W. Beasley, a pediatrician, states that dancing is good for the development of limbs and is thus advisable for women…
“Experts say better nutrition, grooming, know-how have brought improvement.” Gone, “…are the spindly legs, sagging bosoms, unruly rumps and ungroomed heads that marred many a potential lovely of yesteryear. Such common flaws have been displaced by a feminine refinement, both facial and physical, that has elevated today’s young lady of hue to a place of prominence among the most pulchritudinous.”
I mean… ugh. We’ve come a long way, but still not far enough.
Ladies, what are your thoughts?