Am I Exotic Enough For You?

Am I Exotic Enough For You?

Hey… haven’t written here in a while so I thought to post something from the blog I share with an amazing friend… Here goes… :)

Slavery isn’t a crime perpetuated by one race against another. At least not anymore… It’s now a state of mind- an inferiority complex inflicted on one’s own race by oneself. I’ve come to this realisation because of the comments, preferences and trends I have observed within this race we call “black”. A Naija guy (born and bred) tweeting that naija girls are not fine… An African woman obsessed with sewing an oblivious South-American or Asian woman’s hair onto her head… An entire race striving to be what it is not.
Sugabelly once blogged about that resonated with me. The reason we have these ferocious “black is beautiful” campaigns and affirmations is because we need them. We NEED to hear that we are these things because noone says it otherwise. White doesn’t have to be reminded that it is beautiful… European hair does not need a natural hair movement to spread the word about the beauty of its long, silky locks… SHE KNOWS. The voluptuous, full-lipped, dark-skinned, nappy-headed girl on the other hand needs to be drilled… Infused… Inundated with these affirmations because sadly, in most cases, she will never get such admiration otherwise. Even black people ourselves idolise the fairer ones with slender features- characteristics atypical of our bodies- at the expense of those who through no fault of theirs look “too African” or are just “plain ugly”. What does “ugly” even mean, anyway? That my lips aren’t thin enough or my nose is too flat? Or that I’m just not worthy of your attention?
It sickens me that this mental slavery is reinforced each and every day by the very people it holds in captivity. Reading any black entertainment blog and the hateful comments on others’ appearance will show this. The fact that women spend inordinate amounts of money (sometimes instalmentally) on other women’s God-given hair without a credible and sustainable stream of income proves this. And the kinds of girls that our men tend to lust after further etches it in stone. The quintessential black sex goddess (read sarcasm) has an Indian woman’s hair, a Brazillian woman’s complexion and is dressed like an American video ho. Seriously. Seriously?
I cannot count how many times a guy has asked my what the fuck I did to my hair (and I quote). “I prefer you with your longer hair”, they say. You mean you prefer me with some other woman’s longer hair. I even got told that I am becoming more Nigerian, just cos said person heard me speaking Yoruba… You could all but see the negative connotations that weighed on the word “Nigerian” in that sentence. It’s like my British education is supposed to have washed away the undesirable African in me and replaced it with a more European-friendly Funmi (weave-included at a slight extra cost). I would be the first person to admit that everyone is entitled to their tastes, preferences and opinions. But something is wrong when the men whose companions we are supposed to be want to model us after something else. AND WE LET THEM. More than that, we go a step further and actively encourage them by putting down others who do not conform to the trend. My idea of the creation story was that making Eve from Adam’s rib symbolised the complementary functions that men and women have to play viz-a-viz one another. Where they falter, we should support and when we are weak, they should be strong. God knows a woman’s weakness- let alone a black woman- lies considerably in the image she has of herself. Do we really need our men and fellow women chipping away at this even more?
I am in no way arguing that everyone should claim to be pretty or expect to be regarded as such. Beauty is defined as such for the very reason that it excludes. We have the idea of beauty or attractiveness because there are things which we do not find physically beautiful or attractive. The problem I have is when this physical appearance is all a woman is judged on. Women who inspire me- Michelle Obama, Funmi Iyanda, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison- aren’t exactly Page Six Models. But I don’t give a shit. Neither should anyone with an IQ higher than 5. Their character, their achievements… WHO THEY ARE… Those things count for way more than some myopic notion of what is exotic or not. The very idea that beauty has to be exotic in itself is stupid. It reeks of inadequacy and self-loathing. You are not whole or worthy of anything as you are. you need more Brazillian in you. Sew it in here, inject it there. Voila. Damn, you’s a sexy bitch.

25 thoughts on “Am I Exotic Enough For You?” by Funmi-F (@Funmi-F)

  1. Afrocentric!This is an examplar of my brand of African woman’s fashion sense.Kinda homegrown.One whose beauty is skin deep,beyond cosmetic dabs.I tag with ur philosophy of a woman’s role 2 a man and vice-versa.U really know the ropes of ur royal roots,yes we are Africans!Pls don’t change…oooh.

  2. This is shooting from the hip, Funmi. And what shots! A sad reminder of what we are doing to ourselves.
    I remember when i did ‘shuku’ without any attachment, just my artificially europeanized chemically relaxed hair and my friend asked ‘how can you even step out the front door like that?’ I not only stepped out, i stood out. From the stares i got on the streets, i sure was exotic enough, lol.

  3. Lol@ Lade, girl did you stand out with ur shuku? abeg Lade no use lafta wound me oh! Funmi i totally feel you oh, it’s a sad one, installmental payments ontop anoda man hair, chei, where have we missed it?Abeg send it to those mags out there deceiving people jare…

  4. HAHAHA… @Lade… I LOVE YOU! U fit knack patewo next time you dey trip sef… LMAO…

    Yeah guys, I kinda wrote it in a sudden burst of “whatthehellisgoingonwithus”-mode… lol. Thanks for your comments. :)

    1. Lol @Elly and @Funmi. Was thinking maybe ‘koroba’ for next time.

  5. Kinda have this female friend who’s natural has a way of making her look very pretty but seems her boyfriend prefers the European hair. But kinda always tell her to leave her natural hair. The point is that, we’re all not the same. If your boyfriend or husband say put fowl feather, go put oh. If he says goat hairs, put oh. If he says sheep hairs put too, you be fool. You’ve really made me think. Most guys really love the way the hair of Spanish and Italian football player usually are. But does it make them fix hairs, no. Before it was ‘character is the true beauty of a lady’. Wonder what it is now. Maybe ‘European hair is the true beauty of a lady, and shuku is the true ugliness of a lady’. But the point is most NS girls are also like that. You that is reading, no be so you be. Go girl.

    1. Jay, u like ‘kinda’ oh! :)

  6. Even the women you mentioned as role models, are they any different? It’s something to ponder on oh, but it’s something that’s so rampant most people don’t think of it again.

  7. @Funmi-F (The below response is from a lady friend of south american/ carribbean origin)

    I dont agree with the images of “black” people that you have tried to represent, and believe that your arguement is flawed.
    I can only give my opinion on the matter so take it as you may.
    Firstly there are so many different varities of the black race across africa, europe and the americas. We certainly dont all look the same or possess the typical features described by you, some of us have straight hair descibed by you to be “indian” and the european features of a straight nose and tthin lips arent unique only to the european. We come in many varieties taking into consideration the sudanese, ethiopians, tauregs, somalians, and fulanis, let alone the people in the carribbean and south americas. Your view on what constitutes “real and natural” african features are biased because they are based on africans with features similar to you and not on africans as a whole.

    The term “The voluptuous, full-lipped, dark-skinned, nappy-headed girl” doesn’t describe every African woman or woman of African descent and is a stereotype which is why your arguement based on stereotypes, is flawed.

    I also think your use of the word Brazilian, in the context you use it, displays an annoying amount of ignorance out with your “british education”. The majority of Brazillians are of African descent, from your part of Africa, they still celebrate some Yoruba festivals there and their traditional religion is based on that of the Yoruba so how African can they get? What type of Brazilian are you trying to describe my dear “African Goddess of Natural Beauty”?

    You sound angry and frustrated, beauty is in the eye of the beholder not in the magazines or in Hip Hop videos. Just believe in your own individual beauty and don’t generalise about race and beauty. Edify yourself only.

    1. OK… I agree that everyone is entitled to their opinion but this comment has shown that I need to clarify my points. Sorry this is long but I need to address this as best as I can.

      I didn’t go into the intricacies of culture such as the prevalent Yoruba identity in parts of South America etc because I wasn’t writing about that. Neither did I focus on the varieties of black people- I didn’t want the piece to get lost by going down a road that wasn’t particularly relevant to my conclusion in my opinion.

      The key thing which I intended to address here was PERCEPTION and INTENTION. NOT OBJECTIVE ASSESSMENTS OF CERTAIN RACES OR CULTURES. This is why I am in no way suggesting that the voluptuous full-figured woman is uglier or more beautiful than the European/Brazillian/etc… I am just thinking aloud, trying to figure out why people THINK that one is superior to the other. Since I wasn’t criticising any of these other complexions, races etc… I did not feel the need to go into detail exploring them. My major point was why these darker=-skinned fuller-figured black people are consistently portrayed by society as aesthetically inferior, and as a result, continuously seek to change their natural features by means of weaves, bleaching and do on…

      Going back to the issues of perception and intention, I think it is interesting to note that indeed there is a variety of looks across this race called “black”… YET… The ones who are perceived to be more beautiful are thought as such because they fit in more with the European ideal of beauty. Let’s think about it… The fairer-skinned South American women have the silky, flowing long hair… As do the fairer-skinned Indians… The Somalians, etc… tend to have the slender features such as a narrow nose, etc… All these things are not considered more beautiful just for their sake- it’s because society has consciously or unconsciously built a Caucasian model of beauty and those who fit that paradigm or are closer to it are accepted, while those who don’t are not. If we are to consider black women in the public eye who are considered beautiful or sex symbols, we might come across a few dark-skinned ones… Naomi Campbell for instance. Yet she is constantly weaved up, and most others are either light or further away from the typical sub-Saharan Africa look.

      I agree that I didn’t go into enough detail about the variety within our race and that might have caused misunderstanding but it was certainly not out of ignorance nor our of a desire to malign those who do not look like the “African Goddess of Natural Beauty” that you so sarcastically referred to. (That was funny by the way, I love sarcasm). Neither was I implying that people who do not look like me are more or less “black” or “beautiful”. In fact, my point is the very opposite. If black is truly beautiful, then it should be so in all its shapes, shades and sizes. The idea that silky, small and slender is beautiful is what I was trying to challenge. We should all be free to be who we are without pressure from our own race to conform to a standard of beauty directly at odds with our natural endowments.

      As for your last point about sounding angry… Of course I am, though not for the reasons you imply. This wasn’t the ranting of an insecure girl wondering why the world doesn’t like here. The reason this pisses me off is for the young women out there who may not have the strong sense of self that you and I have. It’s for the girls who are already wondering why they are not beautiful like the girls in the magazines before they even hit thirteen years old. It’s for kids like Chris Rock’s daughter who asked why she didn’t have “good hair” like her friends- this girl isn’t even ten. It’s for the generation of young women that is being taught to hate themselves and look like someone else. Not enough parents instil self-worth in their daughters nowadays and in place of this, society is brainwashing us. Women have enough issues to face without their self-esteem being chipped away at by every magazine they read, film they watch or even by those closest to them.

  8. @Funmi, referring to the comment from Ld’s friend, u might have struck some wrong chords somewhere, somehow.

  9. well done Funmi
    glad you came back with a bang as usual.

  10. P.S. I apologise for writing another post in the comments, lol… I appreciate all the comments sha… :)

  11. Me I’m hot the way I am oh!
    ….is all I can say…! :D

  12. You even put it mildly I’d say..
    I’m so in love with this piece..
    Nice one..

  13. Me i like it sha.
    Spent the first thirty years of my life telling my wife she’s lovely being her natural self…spend the other thirty wishing i had spent the first thirty loving someone else.

    I like it sha.

  14. Great article Funmi-F. I love your focus on being true to one’s self and not demeaning our features. Many of us consider natural African hair to be un-beautiful, dark skin to be less attractive than white, etc. I’d begun to think that the idea of natural looks, especially natural African looks (that being the one that is often maligned), being absolutely beautiful is now old school. From your article and most of the comments, I see that it’s not. Well done!!!

  15. You know, I just remember a friend who once went from using relaxer on her hair to leaving it in it’s natural form and braiding it weekly. People were asking her ‘why’. When another friend went from permed hair to weave-on, people kept talking about how pretty she looked. Hmmm.

  16. this makes a whole lot of sense

  17. Thanls guys! I feel like I wrote this ages ago and seeing that people still comment on it is amazing for my ego, I have to say. :) I’ve been going through a severe spell of writer’s block… That thing no easy mehn… A recent blogfest might have cured that so I’ll be posting something new very soon. Watch this space! :D

  18. correct omo-naija! i love this!

  19. I carry my natural hair with pride when I want to. Sometimes, when I weave without any hair extensions, some people ask my “Why haven’t you done your hair?” And I’m like, “Are you blind? It is done. It is done just the way I want it.” But, @Funmi-F, it takes guts oh. All the stares and comments.
    I particularly like the fact that you mention the kind of women our men tend to lust after. Sometimes, we like our own hair and looks, but when they prefer the ones with artificial eye lashes and pink face, we conform to please them. Lol.

  20. Adenyke (@And-romeda16@NS.)

    I couldn’t agree with you less, black is beautiful. We are perfect just the way we are and we seriously got to build our self-esteem, rise high against society’s critics.

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