A magazine for Africans and friends of Africa...Our Voices, Our Vision, Our Culture

Bootylicious – Black Beauty: the good, the bad and the ugly
By Ngozi Nwabinelli
 Dark am I, yet lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem... Do not stare at me because I am dark, because I am darkened by the sun.Song of Songs
Being born and raised in a culture completely different to that of your forefathers can be a daunting experience and one I can sympathize with.  Cross-culturalism has grown on a large scale and its influence cannot be denied.  There are huge benefits to be had but there are still struggles that many black people face and none more so than in the area of identity and beauty. Trends have come and gone as to what is considered beautiful and we remain none the wiser.  When does curvy become fat?  Many have problems drawing the line and resort to ever more extreme methods to rid themselves of this image.  So are we just too Bootylicious? Or has the eye of the beholder been looking at the wrong ideas of what constitutes beauty leaving plastic surgery as the only answer?  

It has taken awhile, but black women are finally reaping the rewards of hard work, sacrifice and determination and are starting to achieve some level of economic and financial autonomy. Thus, many are finding new ways to reward themselves and surgery appears to be climbing up the popularity stakes.  According to research carried out by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, only 6% of African-Americans are plastic surgery patients.  Why?  Some suggest it is because black people have more body confidence.  Others believe it is because it is too expensive. The more pressing question is why have surgery? Is it to escape from their ethnicity?  Or to enhance their natural assets? Whilst many women use plastic surgery as a way of hiding something or fighting the aging process, many black women are using it to boost their curves.  Yes they may have liposuction, but it is to highlight not hide.

When I was younger, I moved around a lot.  This was partially responsible for some of my old self-esteem issues.  In one particular school, I was the only black person there, so my idea of beauty was having blue eyes, blonde hair, skinny figure, thin lips – none of which I had.  I hated my body.  Now with hindsight, I realise that many people are paying money to have big lips, big breasts and now big butts...all the stuff I got for free.  So perhaps many black women are realising this.  Or are they?

  • Perhaps the answer lies in the most popular forms of surgery.  The most common problems with black skin are pigmentation-based i.e. scarring. Many turn to surgery (after trying creams and potions) with chemical peels and lasers being the most popular methods used.
  • Although black skin is more resilient when it comes to aging, dark circles and bags tend to show up more therefore surgery (blepharoplastyis used to alleviate this problem.
  • Breast lifts rather than augmentation is also popular as well, to tighten rather than boost because, in general, we have no problem in that department...but time, gravity and children take their toll.
  • According to a prominent plastic surgeon, rhinoplasty is also popular.  The reason, again, is not to have a ‘white nose’ but to rebalance their face – but is it really necessary?  You tell me.

There is no denying what is considered beautiful has changed.  There are many more beautiful black women out there succeeding in ways that seemed impossible years ago.  Tyra Banks and Beyonce are prime examples.  But all you have to do is look, to see that they have some Caucasian attributes – pinched noses, lighter eyes, suspiciously lighter skin (but who knows, it may be natural)  Let me ask the question – when was the last time you saw one with Afro hair, full lips, dark skin?  The last one I remember is Alex Wek.  African Beauty without the effort...  Will we see more like her?  I think so, we just need to keep the faith and we are very good at that...check us out here!