Monday, February 12, 2007

"A girl like me"

A long time ago, I read the autobiography of Malcolm X and besides being struck by the life and times of that man and that man himself, I was also intrigued by what he had to say about Blacks trying to be White -

"This was my first really big step toward self-degredation: when I endured all of that pain [of the hairstraightening chemicals], literally burning my flesh to have it look like a white man's hair. I had joined that multitude of Negro men and women in America who are brainwashed into believing that the black people are `inferior'--and white people `superior'--that they will even violate and mutilate their God-created bodies to try to look `pretty' by white standards.... It makes you wonder if the Negro has completely lost his sense of identity, lost touch with himself." [Source]

The process is called 'conking' and is generally used to straighten the naturally curly hair. It struck me very similar to the notions of beauty prevalent in India, notions that are still commonplace and for expression of which a popular blogger got severely burnt recently. Reading Malcolm X's autobiography, I wondered whether the beauty ideal originated during the British rule when the whites were the master of the land and the Indian mandarins fought for their favours and approvals...
Carlo Montemayor from the blog Double Conciousness posted a documentary called "A girl like me" in which a bunch of black girls talk about the beauty ideal that they were exposed to and they recreate an experiment that is disturbing. The video is posted below.



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Thanks to Jack and Carlo for the links..

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