For Those Men And Women Of African Descent Who Change Their Image To Look Like The Natural Look Of The European.
So soft so elegant
A head to match,
The eyes that sparkle,
Those ears that dovetail to a wool above,
The elegance of that wool atop thy head,
A nose so perfect on a face of beauty,
For that woolen top to adore.
How dare you destroy
A woolen top of yours,
Dare you adjust to what belongs to another,
You speak of thy roots,
But burn and weave thy hair to the image of another.
Confused are you,
To dwell on another,
Destroying thy image with that of another,
For that beautifull wool no more.
Restore that wool,
For what you behold at birth,
Should not be CHANGED to MIMIC that of ANOTHER.
Quotations on the poems subject:-
Encyclopedia Britannica in 1798 (qtd in Morton 2002) characterized African male and female physiques in the following terms:
Round cheeks, high cheek- bones, a forehead somewhat elevated, a short, broad, flat nose, thick lips, small ears, ugliness, and irregularity of shape, characterize their external appearance. The negro women have the loins greatly depressed, and very large buttocks, which give the back the shape of a saddle.
The following year, 1799, Charles White, a British surgeon , characterized white physique in the following terms (also qtd in Morton 2002): … nobly arched head, containing such a quantity of brain, and supported by a hollow conical pillow, entering its center […] perpendicular face, the prominent nose, and round projecting chin […] variety of features, and fullness of expression […] long, flowing, graceful ringlets; that majestic beard, those rosy cheeks and coral lips […]
Negritude and other counter narratives of black Africa devoted a large corpus to the projection of an image of the African female as beautiful, mothering and caring. Still, what Morison (1992) referred to as ‘racial hierarchy’ or ‘racial exclusion’ in the context of politics continues to extend to matters of body and beauty up to contemporary times.
The notoriety of worldwide beauty pageants derives not only from their mean, impersonal and largely unattainable body and beauty standards, and the interpersonal bitterness they excite amongst participants, but also for being one more site for continued racial and cultural Othering. When in 2004 a black woman, incidentally a Nigerian, Agbani Darego, was at last adjudged world beauty queen, the crown was tainted by insinuations that the title was more a tribute to ‘affirmation action’ on the part of the white jury than a genuine appreciation of her beauty’s worth by the racially skewed body, notwithstanding that that body, Agbani Darego’s, did attempt to approximate contemporary white standards of extreme thinness as female beauty.
While, universally, “our bodies and body parts are loaded with cultural symbolism and so are the attributes, functions and states of the body” (Synnott 1993: 1), an examination of Nigeria African body and beauty inscriptions assembled from diverse sources in the relevant language and literature reveals differences in value perceptions and projections.