White Beauty Standards & Lil’ Kim

In Toni Morrison’s, “The Bluest Eye” it is clear throughout “whiteness” is being associated with beauty, purity, happiness, and innocence within the book. This theme of whiteness allows us to discuss the term race, and how the differences amongst the races is the main source of tension, and worry within the novel. Looking into our Keywords from Children’s Literature, we read Katharine Capshaw Smith explain how, “representations of “race” often reflect history’s problematic racialist thinking.” Based in 1940’s, we see this problematic racial thinking Smith talks about when Cholly is humiliated by two white men while he is losing his virginity. Instead of focusing his anger on the two white men who caused this humiliating moment for Cholly, he directs his anger towards women. This example of how race has effected Cholly is just one of many example that could be pulled from the book. For just about every character in the book, there is a moment or moments of negativity in their lives caused by racist thoughts.

Messages that whiteness is superior are everywhere, white baby dolls given to Claudia, light-skinned Maureen being cuter than the other darker girls, Mrs. Breedlove sharing that Pecola is ugly and Geraldine cursing Pecolas blackness. Pecola suffers the most from these white standards of beauty, and while it is almost 80 years later in time some African Americans still suffer from these idolized white standards of beauty.

lil kimRecently there has been a lot of controversy revolving around Lil’ Kim, and rumors about her taking part in skin bleaching. In an article Lil’ Kim states that in her opinion, being black just isn’t beautiful. It’s unfortunate that celebrity figures like Lil’ Kim are putting out negative opinions about having African American skin. While she is entitled to an opinion, I feel as though this is a large step back for African Americans in their fight to promote African American beauty standards.


4 thoughts on “White Beauty Standards & Lil’ Kim”

  1. It seems like from these photos that Lil’ Kim is definitely using some sort of method to lighten her skin. This is extremely troubling to me since in the music she has created she has always come off as a confident African American woman. There needs to be a line for society where we need to respect an accept peoples personal beliefs about beauty, but it is extremely difficult to say where that line is especially when it comes to a celebrity who is in the public and eye and, either intentionally or not, is a role model for fans.

  2. Wow. This is really hard to see. I had no clue about Lil’ Kim’s challenges to accept her own beauty. It’s hard for me to fully grasp the entire situation and her experiences as I am privileged to have been born within the societally valued standards of beauty, perpetuated by the media, advertising industry, and material culture. The connection you draw between The Bluest Eye and Lil’ Kim is a good one, and really highlights that this is a very real problem even today. Her declaration that being black just isn’t beautiful is truly disheartening, but just goes to show how the rigid systems in place in our society that institutionally suppress people of color can have a very real effect on individuals. After years of being told one does not meet the traditional standards of “beauty”, it unfortunately isn’t entirely surprising that a person would go to such extremes as skin pigmentation and putting down his or her own race in order to distance themselves from their reality and elevate their own position. You are entirely right, Mariah, it is the time for everyone to come together to promote the qualities of all, including previously suppressed minorities, and expand beauty standards.

  3. I think messages throughout history have done enough damage and have caused widespread negative thinking for African Americans. And now that Lil’ Kim has actually acted on these negative connotations associated with her darker skin, I think in a way she has sent the wrong message to her fans. Instead of embracing her true self and thinking of her skin as something that makes her unique, I feel Lil Kim has let society decide what she needs to look like, which is unfortunate.

  4. It is really sad to hear Lil Kim say that black isn’t beautiful. It’s almost hard to put the blame on her when this message is put forward all the time in popular culture. What do we expect girls and women to believe? Women of color are often absent from mass media. We have seen time after time that even when black women are featured on magazine covers for example, they’re skin is often photo-shopped to be lighter than it really is. Lil Kim is absorbing and reflecting the message she is receiving just like Pecola and Ms.Breedlove did.

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