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Gerrie Summers

Dear Satoshi Kanazawa “Beautiful” is a Perfect Ring Tone for Your Cell

By June 9, 2011

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A friend of mine sent me a PDF of an "absolutely awful article." I knew to brace myself. She was aware that I was the new guide for the Multicultural Beauty site, and thought I might be interested in addressing the article written by evolutionary scientist Satoshi Kanazawa. It was called "Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?" and was supposedly based on a scientific study. The pseudoscientific article was published on the Psychology Today website and presented a series of graphs meant to prove that black women were less attractive than women of other races. I skimmed the article and mused over whether I should waste precious thought on this drivel.

I'll note that Kanazawa disparagingly found it "interesting" that black women (and men) "consider themselves to be far more physically attractive than others." Well, I don't know about that, but I do know that I don't feel the need to sit in a tanning booth, inject collagen into my lips, or use bootylicious butt pads. So excuse me for liking my unique features.

The article set off a slew of irate, pro and con forum and blog posts. Some comments were truly venomous. When it comes to the subject of beauty, some people can get just plain ugly.

The entire day Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful" was running through my mind: I am beautiful no matter what they say. Words can't bring me down. So don't you bring me down today. So I decided to pass.

Then recently, during the Hot Topics segment on The View, I learned that Kanazawa had been dismissed from the PT site entirely and all his articles were removed. But don't applaud Psychology Today. It was only after receiving numerous complaints that PT first took the article off the site, and then the editor removed their controversial contributor after things got even more heated, and the online publication was beginning to look more like Psycho Today. Obviously they thought the story was just fine and that it would get coveted page views just like Kanazawa's previous works "Are All Women Essentially Prostitutes?" and "What's Wrong With Muslims?" If you'd like to learn more about this story read this Color Lines article.

The University of London Union Senate (which represents 120,000 students) were campaigning to have Kanazawa fired from his position as professor at the School of Economics, which The View's Whoopi Goldberg didn't agree with, citing, for one thing, freedom of speech. I don't know if Kanazawa has been given the axe or not. Honestly, I could care less. Perhaps he can get a job evaluating the décor of padded cells.

People have different concepts of what physical features they find attractive. I'll never forget having a conversation with one of my brothers and being surprised that he wasn't the least bit attracted to actress Halle Berry or supermodel Tyra Banks. He did not insult Halle or Tyra's appearance; he just simply was attracted to ample figures, dark skin, full lips and natural, textured hair. Science cannot (and should not) define what is beautiful.

You'll notice that there is no image to illustrate this post. I looked for images of beautiful black women but decided against using them, because, to paraphrase Plato's aphorism about "beholding beauty with the eye of the mind" for the umpteenth time:

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.


June 10, 2011 at 5:33 am
(1) Tired&inspired says:

Lately, I’ve felt that people have been continuously engaging in ridiculous behavior as a result of having nothing else better to do with–or show for–their pathetic little lives. They begin to bring the delusions they have about themselves or others outside the confines of their twisted little minds. They use these vacant-thoughts of randomness as an attempt to further distort their own reality and scatter their delusional dust powder to others.
Remember the belligerent rantings of Kenneth Eng? They didn’t make a move until people started to become uproarious about his article as well–then they took action. I guess Better late than never, huh? How about just never in the first place. Yes, there is something in place about having freedom of speech, but lets be realistic here; they bend and flex the constitution like they do the bible–making it applicable to those they deem favorable (like those that control the media and news we get).
What is the vendetta against Black people about?

June 10, 2011 at 11:17 am
(2) Ms. L. says:

I read the article and I’d like to question the “scientific method” of this study. Who exactly did the author ask to evaluate the African American men and women? Did he ask Asians, Caucasians, African Americans, the KKK?

I’m sure that if he did the study with 10 different demographics as the “evaluators” of what he dubs “beauty,” he’d get 10 different answers. I’m sure that if you asked several different African American women whether they prefer the lovely looks of Beyonce or Tyra Banks, you’d get a variety of opinions.

If Kanazawa was looking to gain fame for himself by publishing a questionable study, then he has achieved that. But what price is he going to pay for his 15 minutes of fame? He has incensed many people and his articles have been pulled from Psychology Today. He may lose a job over this.

I agree with Gerrie Summers’ quote about beauty being “in the eye of the beholder.” But how many of our “own” ideas have been shaped by the media’s use of a certain type of model –stick-thin and with gaunt features?

fyi, I am not an African American woman, but I am appalled at this “study” since it degrades every woman by its narrow-minded bias.

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