What Are Black Women Supposed to Look Like?

I will never fully identify with the struggle of what black women have to deal with no matter how many superficial things we have in common. Yes, feminine black gay men and heterosexual women love to shop, get our nails done, talk about boys, the list goes on. However, I do such things out of pure, unnecessary vanity. Every day, black women endure a painstakingly meticulous metamorphosis into their best-looking selves out of survival.

Heterosexual men often dictate what is considered “appropriate” when it comes to how women dress and style themselves. However, there always seems to be a few archetypes that these men seem to be drawn to. Some of us know her as the big-breasted, blonde, blue-eyed princess who likes playing video games and not asking men where they’ve been all night. Others know her as the bronze skin, exotic-looking enchantress who can wash her face 25 times a day and still look like an Instagram model. It’s usually never the afro-wearing, full-lipped (natural, I might add), chocolateer who dares to give up setting her scalp on fire to look less threatening to the masses.

One could say the standard of beauty is being chopped and screwed as people realize the difference between objectivity and subjectivity. However, with black women, there remains a constant hovering force that is always waiting to tell them they aren’t good enough. They strive to fit in, make themselves softer, become submissive, all in the name of trying to find their own identity. But how is that possible when the playbook is in the hands of a greasy bearded, socks with sandals wearing, sink showering individual with no concept of what it takes to truly live up to the ultimately unrealistic standards placed upon these women?

The rules keep getting changed by men who put the same amount of effort into their appearance as they did when they were in elementary school. That’s a problem.

When you have people like Wannabe Womens’ Studies Graduate Fast & Furious star Tyrese and rappers like Kendrick Lamar declaring they want women who look “natural” and not “photoshopped, ” it comes across as insincere (to put it mildly). Why the sudden change of heart? This time last year, those same Instagram baddies were getting wifed up left and right. Kendrick, in particular, tells women to “Show me something natural like afro on Richard Pryor” but proceeds to have no black women with afros in his “Humble” music video, never mind the fact that the entire song includes him telling “bitches” to “sit down and be humble.”

So I have to ask a few questions. What exactly are black women supposed to look like? How much makeup is too much makeup? If her hair can’t grow past her shoulders, what then? Are you willing to champion her efforts as a man to wear her natural hair in the workplace, on the covers of Vogue, on television?

And why can’t black women decide for themselves what looks good on them?