Beyoncé’s L’Oreal print ad (shown to the right, in which she appears totally whitewashed) has been sparking discussion all over the blogosphere. I was reading some thoughts presented by one of my daily reads, The Black Snob, and came across a comment to her post that went something like this:
This really got me to thinking. Does the commenter have a point? Is Beyoncé a good role model? Why do we all seem to care so much about her complexion?
I had to travel back in time to find my answers to these questions. Back to when I was about 10. Even though my mom wore her hair natural, I seriously believed that light skin and straight hair were the norm.
Why? Well, ever notice that there are virtually no ads on TV or in mainstream fashion magazines for Black beauty products?
Truth be told, advertising lied to me on a daily basis. Ads for hair dyes, foundations, lip sticks – all of it. I’d watch a Pantene TV spot and then save up my allowance for a bottle shampoo because I thought it’d make my thick curly hair flow in the wind.
Notice, you'll never find a disclaimer on a Pantene ad that says, "Our advanced Pro-V Formula will not work for Black hair. No matter how many times you use it." After many failed attempts, months of savings spent and a few tears shed, I realized that Pantene would never do for me what it claimed it could do for everyone.
So finally, at the age of 11, I got my hair chemically relaxed. When I walked out of the beauty parlor, I had straight hair down to my waist that the wind could carry effortlessly.
I’d never felt such joy.
Now, we see beautiful high-profile Black women taking the Pro-V standard of beauty (the White standard, really) and emulating it. Women like Tyra Banks (shown), sporting fake hair every day. Claiming she’s a “slave to her weave.” Women like Beyoncé, who is becoming lighter and lighter right before our very eyes.
But in reality, they are projecting the ultimate lie. They’re celebrating this phony ideal that little Black girls will try to achieve. That little Black girls have been trying to achieve for years.
And lying does not a good role model make.
Beyoncé's L’Oreal ad? That’s not African-American beauty. That’s someone else’s beauty. I'd like to see a little more of ours.