Kendrick Lamar – Complexion (A Zulu Love)
In today’s society image is everything! Girls of all ages are reminded through social media, such as movies, magazines, and songs that they must maintain their appearance. It is through social media that girls are constantly hyper-sexualized based on their appearance, particularly African American girls and women. On the other hand, if they are not hyper-sexualized then they are being told what “beauty” is. Not only does social media downplay African American women’s beauty, but they make the implicit argument that being “thin and white” or having lighter skin is beautiful. This is problematic because young, African American girls today are retaining these ideas and seeking approval from society. Karen Coats, author of the Keywords Essay Identity states, “rather than a condition of sameness…identity has become more of an outward show seeking recognition and uptake” (110). It is through socialization and media that young girls take these beauty tips. In Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the protagonist Pecola, suffers from her identity. She does not like her complexion because she thinks she is “too black and ugly”, so she yearns for blue eyes. The blue eyes symbolize young, white girls that everybody adores such as Shirley Temple. This relates to the author’s view of how books acknowledge “the importance of society in the construction of identity” (111).
However, the hip-hop rapper Kendrick Lamar does a great job telling young, African American girls to love their complexion and identity. In the song, he emphasizes that society’s construction of identity and complexion does not matter. He states the history of how complexion started with slavery and now mediates in popular culture. Also in the song he mentions, “Beauty is what you make it…woman love the creation.” He challenges society’s views that being “white” or having “lighter skin” is the definition of beautiful. Kendrick Lamar says,
The new James Bond gon’ be black as me
Black as brown, hazelnut, cinnamon, black tea
And it’s all beautiful to me
to help African American girls love the skin they are in!