African Women Are Facing An Identity Crisis

Over the years, there has been an increase in the number of African women who are struggling with their self esteem. They are also struggling with acceptance, hence the constant need for approval from everyone.

That could perhaps explain why many are opting to comfortably dwell under someone’s shadow, they opine it feels safer there, than their own reality. African women’s desire to imitate those they see in magazines and television shows has been growing extensively. They are constantly thinking; “oh, if only I could look like Rihanna or if my body could be like that of Nicki Minaj, then the society will see me as beautiful and sexy”. But what about our own African identity? What’s wrong with being ourselves, are we perhaps scared of how we look? There is some really shocking revelations of how much black women are spending on cosmetics and skin lightening products. The misconception that black is not attractive is slowly robbing several African women of their beautiful skin and identity. That could also be a confirmation to the late philosopher Frantz Fanon’s sentiments in his book, Black Skin, White Mask – where he extensively articulated that black people are constantly yearning to be white, and in between those lines they end up losing themselves.

African woman, who taught you to hate yourself? Who taught you to think black is inferior? Malcolm X also once said that, “you can’t hate your origin and not end up hating yourself, you can’t hate Africa and not hate yourself”. It is this self hate that needs to be exorcised in order to rescue African women’s pride from drowning. Nobody should build this wall of definitions, of what beauty looks like. That would really be the 21st century scam. As for myself, I’m not trying to be somebody else. I am of course struggling to write my own story and defining my own beauty. The story has many rewrites, failures, pain and of course victories, here and here. But that’s alright, it is what actually defines me as an individual. I anticipate that as an aftermath, I will be able to stand tall and be a proud owner of my story, without being implicated as an imitation of someone. I love Africa and I love myself.

What every African woman needs to understand is that there is nothing wrong with our afro-African hair, our skin and the shape of our bodies. In fact, if a black woman goes to apply for a job and she doesn’t get the job because her hair, one need to take a step forward and say something!

8 Comments

  1. Great piece, Y. You hit the bull’s eye there! No doubt, it is indeed troubling and disconcerting to say the least how our African women have bought into the standard of ‘white’ beauty. While the most logical starting point to resolve this crisis rests in part on our African women, we as African men need to be brought more into the conversation, because we are as much culpable in creating this identity crisis in the first place.

    • Hey Peter! Thanks for the comment, yes I concur that African men need to be brought into the conversation and help African women build their self-esteem. I think African women are feeling insecure in their own identity because of some comments that men pass when comparing African women with those in other parts of the world, those comments are at times savage, derogatory and makes one question what’s wrong with their identity, hence imitation becomes their comfortable place.

      • Weakness breed weaknesses, often men who keep women down feel oppressed themselves. The question is what are we as men afraid of? We can’t protect our women until we address our own demons.

  2. The idea that my skin has to be a certain color to accepted.
    The idea that my hair has to be a certain texture to be accepted.
    The fact that black women need to see their skin color, and hair in a certain way in order to feel confident and accepted is enslaving. Someone said, ‘don’t hair shame me’ as I wear wig because I have alopecia. And I have to pause and ask myself is Black race the only people suffering from alopecia? When am I going to see a white woman with an Afro hair or kinky wig? These matters left me so confused.
    Thanks for your article, it’s indeed insightful.

    • Hey Mercy.Thanks for reading yes its a pity and African women need to start appreciating and loving themselves. It all begins with how you identify yourself.

  3. As an African American man I would say Africa needs African role models and not to look to America. We are struggling with our own issues. We often look back to Africa for motivation and peace. Our celebrities are usually a huge bag of contradictions personally. People who idealize them focus on the good about them, the haters the faults. I would love for African women to project the inner strength they already have and grow in education and other areas while staying proud Africans. African women are beautiful and the various tribal features are unique and needed in today’s world.

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