White isn’t all that’s beautiful

For a long time, the idea of plastic and cosmetic surgery was a ‘white’ thing; it was a foreign concept for black women.

I for one attributed this to black pride, thinking that black people were too ‘real’ and rooted in tradition to ever think of changing their looks.

With the strong black South African middle-class experiencing an income increase, there is a growing interest amongst young black women to have surgery.

So I guess I was wrong. For some it wasn’t an issue of pride, it was because at the time black people didn’t have enough money to undergo such procedures.

Dr Julie Sinclair of Sinclair Aesthetics in Edenvale, Johannesburg, notes that there has been a steady increase of black patients in the last two years who come to her in search of ways to help change their appearance.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to change a certain part of your body, we don’t all have the emotional maturity of going through life with what others would call ‘imperfections’.

But what’s concerning is that most of those young black girls want to move more towards Western beauty ideals. In her observation, Dr Sinclair has noticed that her black and Asian clientele request smaller noses and bigger eyes.

Although these patients aren’t bleaching their skin or having drastic surgeries to change their appearances, they are subtly trying to detach from their ‘blackness’ and heritage by replacing features which make them distinctly black with those that will be more accepted in a Westernised society.

This brings to mind Frantz Fanon’s book, Black Skin, White Masks, (yes, I took it there) which basically talks about the psychology of racism. The mind is a very powerful organ, it stores information without us realising and we unconsciously act on these ideas.

So a young black girl sees these images of beauty mostly from Western countries and this results in an inferiority complex as she begins to change herself to gain acceptance into the ‘white’ world. Famous pop celebrities such as Beyonce, Vanessa Williams and Nicki Minaj are idolized by young girls, and these stars have noticeably changed their facial features to look more Western. If this trend continues then it is highly likely to see more black girls wanting a more narrow nose and lighter skin. 

But then again, maybe I’m just being a bit too anal about this. If you don’t feel happy about your image and if you think changing it will make you feel better, then who am I to blame you? I guess at the end of the day what’s important is for us to be happy and confident people, but it would really help to remember that there’s more than just one definition of beauty.

If you want to change something about yourself, do so because you don’t like it, and not so that it can make you look like someone else. If you have surgery to mimic another person’s look then chances are you’ll never be satisfied with who you are.

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