Featured Image Credit: Raviyah Singh
Every time I scroll down my social media feed, I notice a pattern of which type of advertisements are shown to me. I usually search for other freelance writers of color so I can learn and grow from them. I guess Facebook and Instagram examines my data input. Their ads cater to my likes and dislikes. Chocolate models often pop up marketing various hair/beauty products. And although I love me some chocolate, I am often disappointed to see that the variety displayed lacks Afrocentric features.
What Is Featurism?
Featurism is “a prejudice towards individuals with certain features and a preference towards those with features that correlate with a set beauty standard.” Although colorism and featurism are closely linked, they need to be put in separate categories. If you watch fashion runways, you will quickly notice that although dark-skinned models are featured, the ones that are used more possess European features.
African models that are not biracial usually have bigger noses, and bigger lips. Those who have tighter coils, larger noses, and larger hips, are most likely to be excluded from mainstream fashion projects.
Self-hatred within the Black/African community is very real. And at times it can start with our facial features.
Back in the day when exclusive commercials in the United States where geared towards people of color, they would exaggerate our features. This has led to many older brands being pulled off the shelf. For example, Aunt Jemima’s pancake syrup. Quaker decided to remove the image and title after being flooded with customer’s complaints of its racist past.
And featurism does not just end with black people. In Asia, going under the knife to have a double-eyelid surgery is popular. Many Asians do this so they can appear to have bigger eyes. Larger eyes conform more to Eurocentric features.
Why Is Featurism So Problematic?
When you receive a lot of praise and likes online, but not in real life, you start to wonder: Is my version of black really beautiful?
It is estimated that 40 percent of black businesses will have no choice but to shut down during this coronavirus pandemic. As a black freelance blogger, this means that this pandemic will either make me or break me. A beauty blogger’s salary can range anywhere from $100 a month to $100,000 a month. But when I see Facebook or Instagram ads of the successful bloggers who claim to be millionaires, they are 9 times out of 10 women of European descent. Are talented Africans who look more African worth less?
We need to promote self-love even in a world of hate. While others might find this time as an opportunity to riot, steal, and kill, we need to reinforce confidence in our black Queens. That means stop showing favoritism. Don’t tell your daughter that she is more prettier than your other daughter because her nose is more thinner and her curls are looser. And don’t tell your girlfriend that you broke up with her because her butt was not big enough. Stop with the hate. Promote love.
Personally, I find beauty in all shades and all races. Microaggressions coincide with racism. When you hate your own kind, your own kind, in the long run, gets paid less. So the next time you see someone who looks nothing like what you normally see on the T.V, complement them. We can all stop this self-hatred once we see that all-natural, unalterable features are made to be treated equal.