Saturday, August 29, 2009

Is She Is or Is She Ain’t – The Real Story

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder… as long as you’re looking at (enter ubiquitous actress/singer/model here __________________).

You are beautiful if you are thin.
You are beautiful if you have long straight or wavy hair.
You are beautiful if you have light(er) skin.
You are beautiful if you have light-colored eyes.
You are beautiful if your nose isn’t too wide.
You are beautiful if your lips aren’t too thick.
You are beautiful if you hips aren’t too wide.
You are beautiful if your muscles aren’t too defined.
You are beautiful if you aren’t too tall.
You are beautiful if your features are more euro-centric.

Manufactured, commercial beauty attained through the liberal application of make-up, lighting, implants, elective surgery, Photoshop, CGI, and what ever else the media/celebrity industry utilizes to create and enforce this unrealistic beauty ideal is accepted by we-the-people seemingly unchallenged.

Let’s get one thing straight. The celebrity culture – from movies and television to the internetz and print – is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the media industry. The media industry exists to sell products. Period.

Beauty in this country is commercial and is all about the surface. Don’t waste time looking for depth, it does not exist.

What you see is all there is.

Alas, such is the nature of commercial beauty.

I have read quite a few reports regarding Caster Semenya of South Africa. I have looked at the pictures of her winning the 800 meter race. I watched a post-race interview. I have read various and sundry blog posts and comments about the controversy. I don’t know what the so-called ‘gender testing’ results will or will not confirm. What I do know is, it is not out of the realm of possibility for Semenya to be who she says she is – a woman.

A lot of the commenters surmised since she has killer abs (yep she sure does!), muscular legs, pipes (aka biceps) to die for, she must be a man. Does anyone look at muscle, fitness or running magazines? I ask because a friend of mine and I were looking in a runner’s magazine and one of the pictures was a runner in a tankini and running shorts, we could not tell if the runner was male or female because the body fat was nearly 0. No breasts (that we could clearly discern), defined muscular legs, six-pack o’ abs… I did the Adam’s apple check – she didn’t have one – so I said she is a she. She did not have any body fat, which is what composes hips and breasts.

Commenters say Semenya has masculine facial features. Uhm, is just me or hasn’t that been the story about black women since before the first slave ship landed in this hemisphere? Can't you just see the advertisements?

African females! They look black men, they work like black men and they can reproduce!!!! Talk about return on investment!!

**Danger of Dripping Sarcasm**

Heaven help a woman if she falls outside the very narrow confines of female beauty as defined by the Beauty Industry Complex; add race and a history of objectification and violence; mix in the numerous lies, rumors, distortions, etc. about black women’s bodies and sexuality…….forget about it!!

The sad thing about this situation is, should the results of the so-called tests determine Ms. Semenya is genetically female, it will not matter to the media or its consumers.

Ms. Semenya has been defined as an unattractive woman. This judgment will reflect on black womanhood.

It will reflect negatively if we join the peanut gallery and vilify and dehumanize her based on her looks.

It will reflect positively if we embrace her as part of the beauty spectrum.

Even if one determines Ms. Semenya is not conventionally attractive, she is still human and deserves basic human respect and dignity.


Peace

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