about time

I keep reading twitters and blogs and whatnot about how gorgeous Michelle Obama is and how the person making that comment would kill for her looks. And all I can think is it's about fucking time.

Sure, there have been gorgeous black women or women of mixed race who've been thought of as beauties, but they were models or stars. And anyway, usually they're EXOTIC. Six foot tall, cheekbones that are almost otherworldly. Michelle is an ordinary person, albeit glamorous, but she's no exotic. Futhermore she doesn't have blue eyes or a deep golden skin. She is black and she is lovely and everyone (other than a few scary people) knows it.

I've been personally aware of this white is the standard of beauty thing ever since I was a kid. When I was little, I got to go to Murphy's on Wisconsin Ave. and pick any doll I wanted. I picked a doll that was as big as I was, a walking sort of doll. Heck I was greedy and she was the biggest one there. The woman buying it with me was the woman who took care of me--she was black. When I picked out the doll she was taken aback and said, "are you sure? That one's ugly."

That one was the only black doll in the display. She wanted me to buy a white doll.

Huh, now I wonder if she was uncomfortable that a pasty white girl would be playing with a doll of her race but when I was a kid thinking about this (a few years after the fact. At the time all I thought was yes, this is a great doll! It's huge!), I believed that she really thought because the doll was black the doll was ugly. And she was black. I still believe this and it's still pushing those buttons labeled Something's freaking unfair here.

I'd sometimes go home with her, and she had a couple of grandkids about my age who lived in her house. We'd play dolls. Every doll they owned was white.

This was in the 1960s-70s... the Black Is Beautiful thing was big with the people who were determined to change the world. But not with that Baptist minister's wife and the other females in her family, I don't think.

Maybe I'm misinterpreting all this. I was a kid and a pretty self-absorbed kid at that. Still, I think about this when I read white women sighing and wishing they could be like Michelle Obama and I want to cry and dance at the same time.

Comments

  1. There have actually been studies with black children who say that the black dolls are "ugly". That was one impetus for the black is beautiful movement, but it took a long time to sink in.

    And Michelle is just shy of 6 feet tall. When I met her I had to look up. Way up. At 5'8" I'm not used to that.

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  2. You met Michelle Obama??!! Whoa. That's pretty cool. Yup, that's definitely cool.

    I didn't realize she was so tall. Maybe because of her shape is of regular woman proportions instead of rangy, she doesn't seem Grace Jones or Iman exotic

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  3. She came to London in October of 07. She wore high heeled boots, like any self respecting Londoner. Not afraid to add a few inches to her height, which I admire.

    Of course her husband is taller than mine...

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  4. That is so sad about the woman who cared for you saying that.

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  5. I am sorry that your carer was of the opinion the doll was ugly. I can still remember when I was young (early 1960's)and my favourite doll was a cute black one that I called Molly. I was so upset when yet another move meant she got lost along the way. The thing was, it wasn't her being black that counted, it was the cute face she had and how it gave her personality. No one ever said anything about how as a white girl I shouldnt have a black doll or that a black doll was ugly becasue every one saw how much I loved her.

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  6. Yeah, I wonder if I misinterpreted it. Maybe she just didn't want a big doll cluttering up my room. But then I remember the barbies at her house. No Mitch in the bunch. (She was Barbie's black friend, right? Heh. Now I have an image of Barbie posing like Stephen Colbert pointing at her black friend.)

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