The African Derrière and Our Obsession
I went for a comedy show the other day, and as I walked towards the venue, I noticed a young black woman walk by in a figure hugging dress. She looked great and I believe she knew it. As she sashayed her hips ahead of me and a few other men also making their way for the event, I was immediately dazed. Yes, this young woman had a derrière that could easily be termed as an AFD (Ass For Days). She was a certified apple bottom, and she was fully aware of this too.
When I had gathered from my initial shock, I noticed silence from the group of men walking beside me who had previously been engaged in general banter, and of course their silence had led to a high level of concentration elsewhere.
This immediately got me thinking, what is it about- what I’ve decided to term- “The African Derrière” that causes this kind of reaction not just from men but dare I say us women also. I was amused that most of the women who were in full view caught themselves looking too.
Focusing on the black woman; there seems to be a general form of expectation on what an authentic African figure is. Curvaceous, shapely, vivacious, bootylicious; she having a small waist with outstanding hip ratio, she being petite yet full figured, well formed or rounded in certain areas. And of course she must by all means, no matter how small she is; have a booty behind her.
But where does this standard come from?
In 1810 Saartjie Baartman, known in the West as the Hottentot Venus was a South African full figured woman who was brought to Europe and placed on exhibition in the Egyptian Hall of Piccadilly Circus. She was caged and displayed as an object of curiosity for the excessiveness of her bodily features (particularly her large behind) and seen by spectators as a demonstration of the wild sexuality constituting the black woman. When she died; parts of her body were exhibited in Paris at the Musée de I’Homme until 1992.
This notion of wild sexuality wherever it originated from has obviously been carried forward to today’s standard of the black woman, and although I believe women should embrace sex appeal whatever form it comes in, is the subtle yet potent growing pressure to be what is seen as the standard of sexy becoming out of hand?
Now women (and even some men) are going under the knife for butt implants/enhancements and hip enlargement; a few having already done so at the detriment of their lives. The message being received, wherever it is coming from is that this is the only standard of what is now desirable.
But how can this be refuted, and how do we present the message particularly to young women that both the lovely ladies with the ‘dunk’ and the vivacious ‘little booty cuties’ are just as appealing and quite frankly as sexy as they come?
I believe black women in general are beautiful, sexy and extremely attractive. Appeal is a standard that starts in the mind, an attitude if you will. A woman has to appreciate how she is, what she has, make herself the best she can be, all without unhealthy extremism and wear this image of herself like a glove. This is part of what makes a woman sensual in her own right, and if we can embrace this mentality loving and dominating our own and also appreciate the variety surrounding us rather than digest a microscopic view of how a black woman should look to be attractive, we free ourselves from a lot of harmful body perceptions and quite frankly begin to realise that there is so much more to life than just our body image.