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What if African women “magnified” our own beauty standards?

21 July 2021, Seytoo
What if African women “magnified” our own beauty standards?

What do you think remains of the beauty of the African woman? What attracts you to an African woman? How to magnify our beauty standards?

With today’s media explosion, the Internet, the spread of Hollywood television series and Latin American TV shows across Africa, and the proliferation of Western fashion magazines in our markets, African women have lost their bearings and their role models. She often tends to act and live like Western women, thereby forgetting or ignoring her own beauty standards which were beautifully celebrated by the Senegalese poet, Leopold Sedar Senghor in his poem “Black Woman”.

Nowadays, most African women want to look like Beyoncé, Shakira, Kate Moss… They want to be “blonde” with straight hair, have a fair skin tone, be slim, very thin with plump lips, a luscious chest, and a plump buttock. They are ready to do whatever it takes just to look like a Western woman.

More and more African women spend all of their savings in cosmetic surgery, skin lightening products, wigs and “fake” hair, and in injections of all kinds. It is like the times when African women were proud of themselves, proud of her pretty ebony black complexion that shines under the sun... those times have ended. They all now want to be “White” and are risk their lives with toxic skin lightening products that can cause cancer leading to death.

According to a study by a team of dermatologists in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, out of 100 women, 50 use skin lightening products every day. This phenomenon is one of the biggest public health crisis in Burkina Faso, the country of Thomas Sankara.

The consequences are often very critical for their health: Acnes, skin burns, yeast infections and eczema.
In certain African cities, we are observing new type of women which call themselves “All Color”, “Panther Skin”, “Coca-Fanta” or “Taxi Color.” These are women who, after having messing up their skin with their skin lightening products, end up with unforeseen black spots all over their skin. What a shame! Somehow, we are still suffering from “Colonialism”. Even curvy African women with generous shape, are falling in the same trap. They no longer accept their gifted natural beauty. There are more and more getting themselves into forced diets to appear puny, anorexic with a flat back like a board. They want to be like the “White woman” from Colonialism.

For thin African women, they have now gotten themselves into the phenomenon of “nice buttocks”, “beautiful breasts and hips” as defined by Western standards. They want to be like Jennifer Lopez, Pamela Anderson or Shakira. The wealthiest African women generally opt for cosmetic surgery, to be something different to a natural African Beauty.

There were times in Africa, when men preferred women full of curves, with a strong and generous chest commonly called in the local jargon “Lolos”. We even classified the “Lolos” based on their size in a descending order. Among the most popular categories, there were “Watermelon Lolos”, “Papaya Lolos”, “Coconut Lolos” and “Orange Lolos”. The buttocks were also beauty factor very significant natural African beauty standards. Women with generous buttocks were considered very beautiful and were loved by men. They swung their buttocks with divine grace to the point of making the local priest lose his head. The women who owned “pistols” developed a silhouette in the shape of a Spanish guitar, the “Coca-cola” models did not leave anyone indifferent. With such heavy artillery, African women were sure to ignite; mess up the pants of the most serious men in less time than Eve did to convince Adam to eat the apple in the Garden of Eden. It was a real invitation to sin.

In Niger, curvy women are still appreciated. Some of them even decide to eat certain types of food to get a curvy shape, based on African beauty standards. Their strong build is considered a sign of health, well-being, and ease. The thin woman is considered as poor, mistreated, or sick in Niger. In several countries in West Africa, Miss Beauty contests are organized to reward strong and stout women. However, this is not an invitation to obesity and its complications.

With today’s media, African beauty standards tend to be harmonized with those of Western women. African women today identify with their western sisters. They now paint their faces with products of all kinds and all colors. There is even a species of women called “rainbow women” or “chameleon women”. Their eyes generally languish under the weight of multicolored headlights and dyes. Tattoos and piercings all over the body have become fashionable facts, some perform piercings on the mouth, nose, navel, tongue and even on the most unsuspected parts of the body – you know what I mean.

Why do they need to burden themselves with so many things to look beautiful? Or to look like a Western woman… Why do they have to torture themselves? And yet it is known that the natural African woman is the most beautiful. It is sad to see Western Colonialism is still alive through our African fashion, culture and media. As Africans, we seem to have nothing to offer on the international scene and remain an eternal consumer of cultures, and models imposed and imported.

Have you noticed the bedroom walls of African teenagers? They are full of posters of Hollywood stars that make them fantasize and dream. And when asked to name the most beautiful woman for their taste, it's usually a Hollywood star who is quoted.

What do you think remains of the beauty of the African woman? What attracts you to an African woman? How to magnify our beauty standards?

We do understand that what qualifies as “beautiful” varies from one person to another; tastes and colors are not disputed. And as we say, “all women are beautiful, beauty is relative”. That being said, the purpose of this article is not to deny the contributions of globalization and modernism, but to invite African women to know how to make good use of themselves by just being African, by magnifying and glorifying our own beauty standards. We invite African women to keep their cultural identity and their natural beauty.

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