Think about this scenario:
You are sitting at a bar in a nice restaurant, on a very nice side of town. You are enjoying a delicious fruity cocktail while looking good, feeling good, and enjoying the slow, smooth music. Just as you daintily raise a finger, beckoning the bartender, a non-black man approaches you.
He makes eye contact, asks how you are doing, and kindly introduces himself. He then offers to buy you a drink. The conversation is going well and he compliments the beauty of your wild natural hair, how beautiful your skin looks against the dim lighting, and how honored he would be if you were to accompany him on a date.
So was the above scene an instance of fetishization, or dark skinned desirability? Naturally, it’s up to you to decide that for yourself but in my opinion, no.
In my opinion, a lot of what black women (especially dark skinned black women) view as someone fetishizing them, is just an instance of their unique beauty being admired. As a collective, black women are not used to the concept of what I like to call desirable stereotypes.
Understandably so, the concept of being stereotyped in any way can be a triggering concept for black women. Most of the stereotypes about us, including how we look, are wrapped up in the negative. Some positive stereotypes I’ve heard about black women and our looks are that we have the best skin, we tend to have full lips, voluptuous bodies, and exotic, big hair.
Other groups of women have their own versions of desirable stereotypes. Latina women have the spicy Latina trope and curvy figures, Asian women have the submissive, geisha or China doll stereotypes as well as pale skin and long, jet black hair. White women obviously have their own desirable stereotypes that are pushed in the media and throughout western culture.
It goes without saying that stereotypes are at its core is the generalization of one group. Even though that is a problematic concept, it is something that is inescapable until humans evolve past their xenophobia. However, what we black women can do about it is use our own unique version of femininity and capitalize off of our own versions of desirable stereotyping.
What I am hoping black women take from this is to basically stand out in your lane and to start feeling comfortable with the fact that people notice our unique features and find them beautiful. This is also not to say that real fetishization isn’t a thing. There are obviously men who view black women as purely sexual objects and view our features for their pleasure only.
However, there are also men who just see our beauty and are willing to pursue us with serious commitment and wish to cater to us. Maybe next time a man compliments you on your hair or your skin, take a second thought, determine the intent of the man saying it, and decide for yourself. Does he view you as a fetish, or does he genuinely think you are beautiful?
Liv is a new blogger for DDS Magazine. She graduated University in 2018, with a degree in History & English Lit and in her free time is an avid creative writer, History & Fashion enthusiast, as well as a cat-mom to three kittens. When she is not creating, she works at a children’s non-profit and enjoys spending her weekends doing Pilates, hiking, shopping and indulging in Sci-fi novels.