It wasn’t long after a picture of 7-month-old Blue Ivy made its way to the Internet that the slander started. Facebook and Twitter posts lamented the fact that Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s daughter was starting to look like her father. There were mean-spirited jabs about her inheritance of his “big lips” and jaws, and prayers that a “wide nose” wasn’t in her future.
The criticism of full lips, “nappy” hair, and wide noses in our communities is weighted. Some people would have you believe attractiveness is subjective, but the truth is our collective view of facial features is tangled in the web of racism. In our social imagination, European features set the standard for what’s beautiful, rendering broad noses and big lips ugly.
I am sooooo sick of colorism (or what people in my hometown call "bein' color-struck"--so in awe of someone with fair skin and straight hair that one is struck silent. And, Lord, don't let the fair-skinned person have non-dark brown eyes!), what it reflects about our beliefs, the deleterious effects on the esteem, psyches, relationships and opportunities of people of color. I've written about colorism before, am currently reading literature that argues that the effects of colorism are not only abstract, but may have very real effects on economic, educational, and political opportunities. So, I don't have a lot to add, except shame on the people who keep trafficking in this and quadruple that shame for people who do this to little ones.
But, of course, as my friend Black Amazon has noted, girls of color rarely get the chance to be girls.
It also really sticks with me that the picture that started the comments shows little Blue Ivy in her mother's arms, often characterized as one of the safest places a baby can be. Not so for babies of color who have been routinely ripped from their mother's arms to be sold, exploited, and separated from their families. Suddenly, I'm thinking Beyonce and Jay don't cover their baby just to be coy or secretive, but as a much-needed, protective gesture.
And I just have to leave you with this: