By Dr. Phoenyx Austin
In case you missed it, the now infamous article titled Why Are Black Women Rated Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women, published yesterday in Psychology Today, set twitter and blogs ablaze. Why? Well if you read what Satoshi Kanazawa (the evolutionary psychologist who wrote the article) had to share about black women, you’d understand why. Basically he hypothesized that our “unattractiveness” could possibly be a function of our greater BMI’s (body mass index), our lower intelligence, our increased load of “genetic mutations,” and even to our higher levels of testosterone. Basically, it was one of the most unscientific and ignorant articles I ever read. And after I finished reading it, all I could think was this: Psychology Today actually published this?! LOL!
I guess, evolutionary psychology, or psychology for that matter must’ve gone through some evolutionary change itself that no longer requires its researchers to think or even publish fact. Because interestingly enough, in all his “hypothesizing” about black women, Mr. Kanazawa decided to completely ignore fact, and substitute it with fiction. Furthermore, he chose to even ignore the profound effect of social conditioning on perceptions of attractiveness. Well I’m not a psychologist. But I’m a medical doctor, have a degree in psychology, and that’s something I learned in undergrad Psych 101.
It doesn’t take a psychologist to recognize that our perceptions of beauty are greatly shaped by what we see, hear, etc… When we sit down to watch television, who do we see? Or rather, I should be asking: Who do we not see? It’s common knowledge that black women are not equitably or variably represented in the media. The general public is constantly bombarded with images of “beautiful” fairer skinned, straighter haired women (i.e. women that do not look like us), it ultimately shouldn’t be too surprising when black women are “perceived” as less attractive.
It’s a classic case of social conditioning. And it’s something that Kanazawa, interestingly enough, wanted to omit. The article has since been removed. But the damage has already been done to Kanazawa and Psychology Today’s reputation. And ultimately this article also displayed that being a psychologist, or any doctor for that matter, does not always require the ability to think intelligently and objectively. It also doesn’t require that one not be ignorant. But even through his very transparent attempt to bash black women, Kanazawa made a great misstep and accidentally pointed out one of the most amazing things about us. And what’s that?
Well, Kanazawa wrote this:
It is very interesting to note that, even though black women are objectively less physically attractive than other women, black women (and men) subjectively consider themselves to be far more physically attractive than others.
I don’t know about you, but when I read this I got the biggest kool-aid grin. I smiled because it speaks to our resilience and strength. No matter what, you are not going to break a real black woman’s self-confidence when it comes to comparisons with others. You can’t convince a real black woman that she doesn’t look good, that she weighs too much, that she’s too “manly,” or that men don’t want her. I takes me back to one of the first poems I memorized by one of my inspirations and one of the most phenomenal black women, Dr. Maya Angelou:
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
So let’s keep holding our heads up high ladies. We’re phenomenal and we know it. Rock on sisters… rock on!
***Check out Psychology Today’s follow-up article.***