"O CLOUD-PALE eyelids, dream-dimmed eyes,Black males gravitate toward without any inhibition upsets those in power.
The poets labouring all their days
To build a perfect beauty in rhyme
Are overthrown by a woman's gaze
And by the unlabouring brood of the skies:
And therefore my heart will bow, when dew
Is dropping sleep, until God burn time,
Before the unlabouring stars and you."
CNN has put out an article that attempts to question traditional notions of beauty and how the increasing browning of America will cause the Euro-centrism rabid in the fashion industry to weaken, shattering a glass ceiling that kept out beauties like Gabourey Sidibe from the limelight:
Women who desire a more "exotic" appearance are looking to the fashion world's growing multi-culturalism for inspiration.
There was a time when the Caucasian girl-next-door looks of Christie Brinkley, Cindy Crawford and more recently Kate Moss dominated the fashion pages. Then came new fashion icons: Naomi Campbell, Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce - and then Giselle, Kim Kardashian and Shakira.
More voluptuous figures, fuller lips and darker skin, features traditionally associated with women of African, Latin and Asian cultures, are "in." Over the past decade, an appreciation for ethnic beauty has been on the rise, and these natural features are becoming popular among Caucasian women who desire to look more "exotic."
Dr. Nancy Etcoff, a Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital psychologist who studies the science behind the brain and beauty, believes that the shift in our perception of beauty is a sign of the times.
"Our standards of beauty are changing and ethnic women are at the forefront today," she said. "It emulates our growing sense of cultural awareness."
Etcoff, who also authored "Survival of the Prettiest," adds: "If you study plastic surgery textbooks, the notions of an ideal feature have changed. In the 50s, the ideal look featured thinner lips, upturned noses, smaller eyes, and paler makeup," Etcoff said. "Now you see broader noses, darker skin, and larger eyelids. All these attributes suggest shifts in demographics and an appeal to a more multicultural look instead of an overly Caucasian appearance."
With companies earning over $3 billion between 2005 and 2009 in the US multi-cultural beauty market, it seems ethnic women are not just embracing the trends -- they are setting them.
"What's not to love, embrace and emulate about ethnic beauty?" said Us Weekly fashion director Sasha Charnin Morrison. "The use of curvier, more rounded figures looks refreshing."
Celebrities and the media, Etcoff said, have helped promote ethnic beauty. One trait in particular is the larger bottom.
Susan Bloomstone and Lisa Reisler, co-creators of Booty Pop panties, a form of padded underwear used to give an illusion of a larger rear, said their product was inspired by ethnic women in Hollywood, such as entertainers Beyoncé Knowles and Jennifer Lopez.
"Magazines, music, and movies have really created a window for more ethnic women to be noticed for their features," Reisler said. These women, she said, have made the larger, rounder bottom sexy.Gabourey Sidibe is a beauty only in a world dictated by ideals espoused by Black Run America proponents. Sports Illustrated doesn't share the same view that CNN recently shared (for the magazine hopes for massive sales of this particular issue), as the most recent Swimsuit issue was conspicuously absent of the new archetype of beauty in the age of BRA:
More than 70 percent of professional athletes are African American, but you wouldn’t know it by reading the latest issue of Sport’s Illustrated’s much ballyhooed swimsuit issue.OKCupid - an online dating web site populated by individuals too cheap to pay for Match.com or eHarmony - has made headlines for a recent analysis of the most popular keywords that users frequently utilize on their profiles.
The 184-page issue, the magazine’s most profitable, boasts 18 models, but only two are African American and you won’t see them until page 140.
The magazine is one of the industry’s top sellers, averaging more than one million newsstand sales along with 3.2 million issues that go out to subscribers.
Needless to say, getting into the pages of the coveted issue is a career maker, and models such as Brooklyn Decker, this year’s cover, and Bar Refaeli, 2009’s cover model, became household names after appearing in the magazine.
Sports Illustrated has been publishing the swimsuit issue continuously since 1964, and Tyra Banks has been the only African American model to grace the cover. She first appeared in 1996, but shared the cover with model Valeria Mazza, who is white.
No two models since then have shared a cover. All have been white. Only one other issue, 1994’s, featured multiple models. Kathy Ireland, Elle MacPherson and Rachel Hunter appeared together.
Tyra repeated on the cover solo in 1997, but the photo caused a controversy because of allegations that Banks’ hips were photoshopped to make her look slimmer.
In this year’s issue, Jessica White, 26, is one of two African American models. She’s an industry veteran, who was signed, at 16, by the IMG agency and has represented such brands as CoverGirl, Chloé and Gap.
Lost in the euphoria of this study of what words white people and Black people use is an earlier study published by OKCupid lost in translation to those who still seek that old-fashioned notion of beauty (from The New York Times):
John Mayer has recently been criticized for crude remarks he made in an interview, suggesting that he was not sexually attracted to African-American women. Tiger Woods’s alleged actions suggest a similar preference (Bill Maher quipped “He doesn’t need sex rehab; he needs diversity training”).
A fascinating but depressing analysis of messaging at OkCupid.com suggests that discriminatory male preferences are a wider phenomenon.
We’ve written before about oktrends.com, an associated blog where the dating service is refreshingly open about reporting the results of all kinds of interesting number crunching. (I predict that the website’s database will become the basis for more than one Ph.D. dissertation.) OkTrends looked at “the messaging habits of over a million people.” They wanted to find out what happens after one user sends a message to another user. Does the recipient write back?
The basic result is that the race of the sender matters a lot – even after taking into account the user-defined level of compatibility.
OkCupid measures compatibility by the “match percentage,” which is based on the degree to which users give the answer desired by another user (and the level of importance the other user assigned to the question). Look at how nicely the reply rate tracks the match percentage:
Graph: OkTrendsIn words, message recipients are more likely to respond to messages from senders with higher match percentages.
What I’d really like to see is the line for particular sender/recipient race pairs. For example, what happens when the sender is a black woman and the recipient is a white man? But there are so many permutations (regarding sex, race and sender/receiver status) that there would be many, many lines to analyze.
Still, the following chart shows that the average quality of the match for different racial permutations is roughly similar:
Graph: OkTrendsThe post says:
As you can see, the races all match each other roughly evenly: good news. It means all other things being equal, two people, of whatever race, should have the same chance to have a successful relationshp.But depressingly, men of all races write back to African-American women at markedly lower rates. As shown in this chart:
Photo: OkTrendsMen (including African-American men) write back to African-American women at about a 20% lower rate. This result is somewhat reminiscent of the famous resume study done by Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan, which found that employers who place want ads were less likely to respond to resumes from people with African-American sounding names.
But in some ways the OkCupid result is even more depressing than the racial disparities found in employment. It seems that OkCupid doesn’t match couples where the match would be inconsistent with an explicit racial preference of a user. So these racial disparities persist even after excluding users who have stated an explicit racial preference.
The white male recipient column also suggests an interesting supply-demand effect. This mostly yellow column indicates that white males are less likely to write back to women of any race, but they are “fairly even-handed about it.” As summarized by the post:
The average reply rate of non-white males is 48.1%, while white guys’ is only 40.5%. Basically, they write back about 20% less often.The messaging analysis suggests that your willingness to write back might be an inverse function of how willing others are to respond to you. Compare, for example, this complimentary chart concerning male senders:
Graph: OkTrendsWhite men may be pickier about responding to messages that they receive in part because they are more likely to receive responses when they send a message (shown here in the higher percentages found in the white-male sender row).
In contrast, African-American women, who get markedly fewer responses when they write, are much less picky when they receive a message (shown by the greener black female recipient column).
Unfortunately, it’s not just new car bargaining where African-American women seem to face an uphill battle.The world of online dating isn't exactly fertile ground for Black females, a category of potential mate that virtually every male user overlooks without a passing glance: