Black Child Beauty Part 1
A friend recently sent me a video that I had seen a while ago and forgotten about. It was a little black girl getting her hair done at the hairdresser. The little girl said she was “So ugly”. When the hairdresser started to affirm her, the little girl began to cry. It was a heartbreaking video and got reshared a lot. The five year-old girl made many wonder how a little girl could carry so much pain at such an early age? How can she not see or know how cute she is? Why was she so convinced at five years old that she was ugly. Although this can be more of an issue here in the western hemisphere where black people are considered a minority it is not in fact only an issue here. Many countries that would be considered black may have their own advertisements and media that feed into self-hatred.
There are many factors that can contribute to children having such strong negative views of themselves.
Mixed messages from parents
Parents may be loving and very careful to give children attention and compliments but at the same time make negative comments creating mixed messages. As my friend mentioned, parents can say that their child’s skin is beautiful and then in the next moment tell them to get out of the sun so they don’t get too dark. Or compliment a child’s hair but then offer to chemically straighten it so it’s “easier to manage.” Children internalize these kinds of comments whether you want them to or not. Parents can even make comments about the beauty of other children and be praising features such as a looser curl pattern or lighter skin colour that their child does not have. Even if unintended children can hear these comments and feel inferior to others around them if they don’t look like that.
Other Children and parents
When I was growing up there was a lot of internalized self hate that was passed down from parents to children. Comments about my skin colour being too dark or other negative comments came to me from other children who were repeating things that they had learned at home. This still happens all the time. Children can hear comments or jokes at the expense of a person with a different shade or colour and these comments become the way they think. They will pass on hurtful damaging comments innocently to other unsuspecting children.
To be continued
Great article, Nana! Looking forward to part two.