Is Our Beauty Enough…BJ Henderson

Black women have always been on the outside when it comes to the standard of beauty in America. We have historically been viewed as not beautiful. Our hair is nappy. Our lips are too full. Our hips are too wide. Who black women naturally are has never been considered the standard of beauty in our society. Fast forward to today, and black women are scolded sometimes for wearing weaves, getting plastic surgery, and trying to fit into the American beauty mold. My question is . . . do black women truly accept and embrace their natural beauty or try too hard to look like something they were never meant to be?  (Black Minds Black Voices)
I am the father of two black girls. I am the brother of two black women. I am the husband of a black woman. I am the son of a black woman. At the risk of sounding brutally cruel, I will tell you that if you are not in an industry where your looks are crucial (acting, sales, food service), then this question only comes up to the insecure. In popular culture, there have been black women who have been universally seen as beautiful going all the way back to even before Eartha Kitt, and Grace Jones. And these two women had dynamically different looks. Kitt was sexy, with a voice that was meant to curl men’s toes.

Jones was black as a boot, with chiseled facial features, and normally sported a box hair cut. Both women were seen as beautiful. What has been viewed as beautiful in the past is exactly that – the past. Yes, there was a day when Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe were the standards. There was a day when a black Miss America was a crack pipe dream. There was a day when full lips, curvy hips, and ‘nappy’ hair was seen as down right ugly by blacks and whites alike. That is no longer the case, and we are foolish to act like it is.

Vanessa Williams was Miss America, with the sexiest of icy-cold stares. Michelle Obama is seen as strong and statuesque. Lisa Leslie was a dominating center and a world traveled model. Serena Williams has been revered around the world for her physique. Condeleeza Rice is intellectually unchallenged, artistically gifted, and built like a runway model. Phylicia Rashad is classic beauty that demands our respect and attention. Halle Berry is Halle Berry. I could go on forever. Black women are beautiful, and it’s not an underground secret.


Plastic surgery, weaves, hair relaxing – these are nothing more than mediums to get a person to where they think they want to be. Just like plain old make-up. ALL women from ALL races from just about any time period have done what they think it takes to make themselves beautiful.

ALL men from ALL races from just about any time period have made choices and judgements based on what we think is attractive. I forgot about Bern Nadette Stanis, Thelma from Good Times. Sexy without being slutty. Nicki Minaj could learn from her.

I will put this as simply as I put it to my girls. Make yourself presentable (clothes, hair, make-up, shape) and be your own judge. If you don’t like what you see, then get to work and make yourself happy. If you like what you see, then maintain it. Thank those who notice and respectfully appreciate you. Walk away from those who ridicule you and give you a hard time. Because, ultimately it is all about you. That’s not being selfish or self centered. You must love what you are, cherish who you are, and maintain all that you are. It really is that simple.


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