The aged battle that light-skinned, long-haired women are the object of beauty in the black community is just that, aged and passe’. The idea that this small group of women in the entire black community is considered exclusively beautiful is a detriment to our self esteem today and actually upholds the history of white features being placed on the pedestal during slavery, civil rights, and even now in the media.

Over the years I was always complimented for my big fro filled with curly strands and my caramel complexion to match. I’d do fun hairstyles in cool hair colors and rocked it out with a small degree of confidence. My hair was cute and all but when I’d step foot in the NYC club scene I disappeared on the sidelines as men broke their necks and wallets in pursuit of the straight long-haired, light-skinned girls.

I spent more time than I want to admit dwelling on this phenomenon. Over and over at every party I took time away from enjoying myself because I was fixated on analyzing this observation. As I watched men ogle and praise these women, I wondered if it was true; are light-skinned, long-haired women exclusively beautiful?

As I grew older and began to expand my personal definition of beauty, I realized that what men, and people, truly like is confidence. If I don’t exude that at all times, I will always be overlooked whether its in the club, office or subway. I took my new attitude to the club the next time and dropped it like it was hot with my girls and everyone in between. Not only were the guys checking me out and wanting to get my number, the light-skinned, long-haired girls were paying compliments to my “cool hair”.

While I still think the praise of European features is often misguided, I no longer allow it to get in the way of me embracing my own beauty.

-Tunisia Z. Wilson

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