The more we progress through times it is fair to say Black and Brown women are being accepted at large in comparison to our ancestors. Long gone are those days of seeing the slim White woman with the long pins on every newspaper. Society is now being introduced to ethnic female bodies, the media in general has taken a peculiar take on ethnic women and our bodies.
Throughout time there has been made references of ethnic women to be some exotic and foreign creatures with strong sexual connotations. In a way I guess it can be a positive thing, I mean how many of us dreamed of having those long slim Cameron Diaz legs and waist, how many of us hated our thick thighs which were a nuisance gift passed down from our mothers and how many of us wished we were just flat chested like the White girls posing gracefully on Vogue. I can’t lie and say I get zero satisfaction out of society glorifying ethnic bodies.
However, at the same time something about this “Black skin thick ass” movement doesn’t sit right with me. Firstly, it completely objectifies and fetishizes female bodies. Secondly it mocks specifically the ethnic female body and well most of the time it feels like the media just loves to take the piss out of our bodies. I mean look at what happened to Kim k’s ‘Breaking the Internet’ cover. Youtube was bombarded with exaggerated and degrading parodies all mocking her ass. Kimmy’s shoot was a tribute to singer Grace Jones and her legendry Jean-Paul Gourde Champagne shoot. The only creepy thing is that French designer/photographer Jean-Paul Gourde had this obsession with Jones. From her skin tone to her ass. Jones was catalogued and fetishized into just skin and ass. Not to mention, one of Gourde’s photographs of Jones featuring her to be in a cage and to be growling. Hmm sound’s a tab bit racially insensitive don’t ya think? According to Gourde she was “schizo … outrageous bitch” hence the cage inspired photograph. The famous photographer in 1979 ‘People Magazine’ interview explained he found himself captivated by ethnic minorities and has also stated “Blacks are the premise of my work”.
Kim’s photoshoot was a replica of an arguably “iconic” work by Gourde which he featured in his book called wait for it… JUNGLE FEVER. The oblivious nature of Gourde’s work and literally zero f*cks given has to be found amusing to say at least.
It isn’t just Kim K or Nicki Minaj that have been exoticized, hypersexualized and ridiculed. Saartjie Sarah Baartman was born in 1789, and a slave in Cape Town, until she and her unusual physical features were “discovered” by a British doctor. She was then taken to England and later France to be exhibited in freak shows all due to the size of her ass cheeks. Baartman was displayed as a freak of nature, a spectacle. After freak shows were no longer in fashion she became a prostitute and died after allegedly having STI. Baartman’s story is no doubt a tragic and personally revolting one. But let’s just talk about this for a second, how ethnic bodies for centuries have been made to be a manifestation and not just “damn the ass tho” but a degrading and comical spectacle. Also, going back to how Baartman was dropped as soon as freak shows were no longer “vogue”. Once again implying that the White superior male has control over the ethnic body and the power to make it into a popular trend or a distasteful commodity.
The fact that Baartman was an exhibit to the European folks strongly suggests how Black women are seen as the “other” bought to West to show society how different ethnic bodies are and how strange looking. An attempt to once again poke fun at ethnic people and remind us how backwards we are.
Moving on from this, whilst this new thick ass movement is appreciated by many and can arguably be seen as a step forward as we are now being given some credit and limelight too. We can’t ignore the threats posing. Some women may feel more comfortable in their skin due to media coverage ethnic women are given, however, this new scene is still isolating women further from their bodies. Especially ethnic women. The media hypes an ass like Nicki Minaj’s, rapper love spitting bars about thick Black booty bitches. But what about the slim Black woman? Is she any less “Black” cause she’s a double A and has a flat backside? So it seems like the media puts one Black woman on the pedal stool by knocking the other one down. The general fetishism of Black and Brown bodies allows us to be seen as almost sex symbols but in an insulting manner. We too can be seen as desirable and sought after to be physically attractive, in a world full of White heroines and Disney princesses we too are given a chance.