Thursday, November 15, 2012

Alice Robb, Why You Tripping About The POTUS Calling His Daughters Beautiful?

One of my readers brought an article by Alice Robb of the Oxonian Globalist to my attention in which she criticized the part of President Obama's victory speech last week in which he said this about the First Daughters:
“Sasha and Malia, before our very eyes, you’re growing up to become two strong, smart, beautiful young women, just like your mom, and I’m so proud of you.”

While the rest of the world, the TransGriot and Black America loved this comment, check out what the third year Oxford University's Keble College student from NYC had to say about it

Obama’s comments beg the question of why a girl’s beauty should be source of pride for her father— and why beauty should be a value lauded alongside strength and intelligence.  The President may have been directing his comments at only two people, but he had the ears of the world, and on a day that should have been a triumph for women, his remarks stung.
Alice, since you didn't grow up as a Black female and don't interact with this world with a Black female body, allow me to break it down for you and demonstrate just how clueless and vanillacentric privileged your comment is.

The beauty standard you rail against is one that exalts women who look like you as the measuring stick that all women should aspire to.  

That same beauty standard that lifts white women and white girls like yourself up as the penultimate beauties is conversely the same one that is used to denigrate non-white women, and especially Black women and girls. 

Lets not pretend that the Black 'unwoman' demonization meme aimed at Black women and girls doesn't exist.  If you think I'm kidding about that, Exhibit A of it is the jacked up Satoshi Kanazawa May 2011 article entitled 'Why Black Women are Ugly.' that I had no problem putting on blast like I'm doing your comments right now.

Note that when you pick up any fashion magazine not named ESSENCE  that all you see in them are glamorous fashion photos of white women.   Same with television shows, movies, commercials, print ads or beauty products that predominately feature white women in them.  In your hometown of New York, one of the world modeling hubs, during the spring and fall Fashion Week shows the numbers of Black models strutting those runways are so minuscule you can count them on one hand.

President Obama is a parent of two daughters first and foremost.  The First Lady, Sasha and Malia have been attacked and had the Black unwoman meme frequently flung at them by a cavalcade of right wing idiots (something white feminists have been cricket chirping silent about).

You damned skippy he's going to do everything in his power like any Black father would do to push back against the negative forces working on the self esteem of his daughters by telling them (and his wife) at every opportunity, including his victory speech that they are strong, smart and beautiful young women.  . 

So Alice Robb, why you tripping about President Obama calling his daughters beautiful?  You mad because he took a few moments in a speech that went around the world to show his daughters some love? 

There is nothing wrong with what President Obama said about his daughters because, frankly, Sasha and Malia ARE strong, smart, beautiful young women that I'm happy will be residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the next four years.

1 comment:

Mary said...

To be fair, I do get the complaint.

We're talking about two different issues. One, yes, black women and girls are held to a white-oriented standard of beauty, and thus called ugly or just ignored. I agree, this is a real thing and it's harmful.

However. Part of what makes that so harmful to a girl's self-esteem is that all girls and women, of all races, are raised with the idea (subconscious or otherwise) that their physical appearance is the most important thing about them. If they're not pretty, they're worthless.

This, too, is a real thing. You can see it in action when men talk about female bloggers, writers, activists, politicians, businesswomen, etc. in terms of how "fuckable" they are.

There is a school of thought that little girls shouldn't be praised for their looks. Little boys aren't, after all. Little boys have their own restrictions, but at least they're mostly judged on what they do, not if they're attractive. (This school of thought is probably right, but as the mother of a baby girl, I can tell you - i'm not convinced it's possible.)

It puts a parent in an awkward place - someone calls your daughter ugly, she's in tears - of course you want to reassure her that she's beautiful, but how to do that and still send the message that her she is more than just her beauty, that she would still be strong and valued and loveable even if she were ugly?

I don't think Alice should have called the president out quite so harshly - his only "crime" was failing to live up to a nigh-impossible ideal that most of society doesn't recognize anyway, and as you point out, he was likely thinking more about the factors you name. But I can sympathize with why she felt that way.