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not us being the blueprint | WBWAST

TW: mental health disorders, body dysmorphia, racial trauma


Welcome to the first addition (of many) of “Why Black Women Are So Tired”! It’s great to have you, friend. Before we start, how are you? Are you okay? How’s your heart? The topics we’ll get into are ~infuriating~, so I hope you’re in the right mental space to ingest it. 

In this series, your good sis (me) will break down all the things that have this Black woman t i r e d. I’m talking wrecked. I’m talking comatose. Gas on ‘E’, ya feel me? First up: Blackfishing! For those of you who have the privilege of not knowing, Blackfishing is when white and/or non-Black people attempt to make themselves appear Black. Blackfishing is just a drop in the toxic pond of “digital blackface”. Other drops in this cesspool include: incorrect use of AAVE, Blaccent, memes/reaction gifs, etc. Today, we’ll take a deep dive into Blackfishing and its effect on [this] Black women’s Body Dysmorphia. 

You might be reading this thinking, “whoa, Angel, what the hell do these terms mean?” I gotchu. Crash course!

What is “digital blackface”?

  • The practice of white or non-Black people making anonymous claims to a Black identity through contemporary technological mediums (The Awl). 

What is “body dysmorphia”? 

  • Obsessive thinking about a flaw on a specific part of your face that is often imagined or exaggerated in one’s mind.

What is “blackfishing”?

  • The K*rdashian Kl*n.

There is no arguing that the media (I’m looking at you, Instagram) has tried to decide what a Black woman should look like. With the accessibility of non-Black people achieving that “look” has only exacerbated the problem. Enter “Instagram Face”. 

Have you noticed that slowly, but surely, all the IG baddies look the same? They all attempt to reach the same “aesthetic” racially ambiguous face and body. According to The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, in 2018 alone, over 10 million people went under for aesthetic purposes and 12 million had non-surgical injections.  Once kept for Boomers and Millennials has rapidly gained popularity with Gen Z.  The end aesthetic is: 

  1. A youthful, heart-shaped face
  2. Button nose
  3. Thicc lips 
  4. Thicc brows
  5. Thicc booty and tiggle bitties
  6. Cat eyes
  7. A defined chin and jawline
  8. Cheekbones to the gods
  9. Defined lashes sometimes achieved through extensions
  10. Extra-”dark” tan
  11. Slim thicc w/ some abs
  12. Bundles for days

I’m not here to knock plastic surgery, I’m just saying when the result is white women transforming themselves into a different race…we have an issue. Not only does it deracialize human faces to fit the ( now in trend) standard of beauty, it’s sending a message to Black women that our bodies are a commodity. The Kardashian-Jenner Klan (I’m so sorry for bringing their name into this safe space, but they forced their way in) are the biggest culprits. Rachel Dolezal could never. They eat cultural appropriation for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and their stans eat it up (truly, are the KK paying the stans to defend them?? Because the way these gorlies be acting…). They will take direct hairstyles, outfits, and literal body parts (don’t even get me started on BBL’s), and then turn around and gaslight us. Saying they are the creator or the inspiration is from a white woman. They take what they stole and package it to the masses. 

Which only leaves us in panic to fit a mold (that was modelled after us) that now excludes us. A 2018 statistical round-up from The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reports that cosmetic augmentation has risen more than 56 percent in Black people over the last decade. As Black people account for only 12 percent of the population, we are making up over 8 percent of the plastic surgeries in the US. For the majority who can’t afford these procedures, where does that leave them? Desperate for any fad or fatal shortcuts to achieve the look that the very people who took from us are selling back to us. Exasperated by Black men that love to tell us “shape up because white women have booties now” as if that was our only appeal. Sheesh.

(Note: obviously not everyone who gets work done has a disorder. People have a myriad of reasons for changing themselves and that’s their business). 

Too often, Black women are left out of the conversations of mental health disorders (the discussion on the medical industry and education’s systematic racism is for another day).  So much so, that research is limited on the escalating cases of body dysmorphia and further chasmed double consciousness. So bump a scientific study, just ask the Black women around you. Or yourself.

So, my love, you’re not crazy. Your anger is valid. Your fatigue is vindicated. There is no one way a Black woman looks. That’s the beauty of being Black and a woman. The boundaries placed around Black women are further barriers between us and the rest of society. I don’t know where we go from here. It may get worse before it gets better, or who knows, the internet may do a 180 on the standard of beauty. All I know is the Internet isn’t everything. Black women, however, are. We are not a joke. We are not a commodity. We are magic, but that sure as hell is exhausting. Don’t forget to drink your water, guard your heart, and protect your peace. If you didn’t know, now you know, friend!

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