In the wake of Beyoncé’s father Mathew Knowles’s remarks that Beyoncé would not have been as famous had she had darker skin, two black women went on to debate the controversial issue of skin lightening on ITV’s This Morning.
The first woman, presenter AJ Odudu was there to advocate that black women should be proud of their heritage and should not feel the need to confirm to beauty standards. She was arguing that she wants beauty standards to change for black women.
The second woman, a reality star and mother of six Irene Major defended her decision to lighten her skin, saying that she should not be judged because this is her decision and she’s not hurting anyone. She’s doing what makes her happy and the products she uses do not damage her health.
Things got rather heated and dramatic when AJ asked Irene why she bleached her skin. Irene responded by whipping off her wig live on television, and asked AJ Odudu why she also wore fake hair. AJ was wearing what appeared to be a weave representing straight flowing long European hair. Irene’s argument was that a woman who wears fake hair has no right to preach to her about the wrongs of skin bleaching.
I have to say, this is the moment that really got my attention. As much as I am an advocate for natural hair and dark skin, I could not help but agree with Irene Major. I admired her boldness and honesty.
AJ defended her decision to wear a wig/weave, saying if she straightened her natural hair it would look the same as the wig. I honestly failed to understand what she meant by that. Her wig was straight long hair almost to her waist, I doubt her natural afro will look anything like that, even after gallons of relaxer. And even if it did, that is not even the argument neither is it the reason why she wears the wig. She also does not love her own natural hair, just like Irene does not like her own natural skin tone.
Although AJ Odudu spoke very well and handled the debate well, I believe she failed to give any reasonable answer as to why she wore a wig, and in all fairness she was not the right representation of black natural beauty.
I don’t understand the double standards. If you can’t go on national television in your own crown, your own glory, your own hair, how is that any better than a woman who bleaches her skin.
I think what happened today on This Morning was rather disgraceful for us black women in general. It painted a picture of confusion and pure hypocrisy.
It would have been more ideal had a woman with natural beauty (natural hair and dark skin), gone to debate Irene. The issue of wearing wigs and weaves is already a huge debate in the black community, in all fairness it’s also seen as self-hatred. Hair is a bigger issue that skin bleaching. More black women have issues with their hair than with their skin.
I have to admit I learnt something from Irene Major. At least she’s honest with herself, something that the majority of the human race struggle with.
Irene taught me that we shouldn’t really go around condemning other people’s choices of how they want to look. At least if you going to do that, look at yourself in the mirror first, embrace your own natural beauty and then teach others by example.
Black people, before we start condemning other women, please let’s also keep a balance here. Lets also not forget that even in the white community, they also hate their pale skin, freckles, ginger hair etc etc. They spend millions on fake tan and some damage their health and die as a result. Some go as far as to change their gender. Some change their whole appearance through cosmetic surgery. The issue of self-hatred is prevalent in the entire human race.
There are standards of beauty in every community, however sadly in the black community we are the only race that is affected socially and economically by our beauty standards, like what Beyoncé’s father pointed out. We laugh and mock each other mercilessly because of the dark pigment of our skin. We esteem light skin as more beautiful. We consider straight hair and more beautiful. We see white people as more beautiful than us. Our self-hatred is not on personal levels here and there, but across the entire race. Most of us without realizing it, just hate the fact that we are black, and we end up abusing each other because of that.
The solution is not bashing each other and or scapegoating women like Irene Major. Sometimes we pour all condemnation on women like Irene to make ourselves feel better, yet we may be battling bigger issues with our blackness than Irene. I think if we look deep down in each of us, there are little streaks of self-hatred, inferiority complex and utter confusion in majority of black people. How many black Africans are ashamed of their african accents and think its more posh to speak like white people? When it comes to appreance, skin bleaching, wigs, weaves, fake nails, fake eyelashes, come on, it’s all the same, none is better than the other.
The only way we can redeem ourselves as black women is to teach our children, our little girls to embrace their natural beauty. Lets love our dark-skinned little girls and show them that they are the most beautiful of them all. There is already an awakening within black women, melanin is actually now a trend. Natural hair too, less black women are relaxing their hair. So slowly we are getting there black queens.
A lot of us are not comfortable in our black natural beauty, especially our own hair. I honestly believe wearing weaves is no different to skin bleaching. It’s just more acceptable in the society but it’s no better than bleaching. I think scapegoating women who bleach their skin is hypocritical and wrong. I am very much against skin bleaching, I’m against straight weaves too, but I think it’s not up to me to condemn black women who choose this path. Change can never come through condemning others, but through embracing my own natural beauty and influencing my daughters and those around me.
In conclusion, I agree with Irene Major and I honestly do not believe any black woman who wears a weave that represents white women’s hair has any right or ground to preach against skin bleaching or advocate for black women to accept their heritage.