Black women have been so maligned by popular culture, that a black Pulitzer Prize-winner, Karen Hunter, recently posed the question, “Are black women necessary?” How has this shocking state of affairs affected the psyches of sisters during an age marked by misogyny and an embracing of a European standard of beauty?
These are some of the questions posed by this provocative documentary which suggests that African-American females might be suffering from a form of self-image disorder. Produced and directed by Daphne Valerius, this provocative expose’ features sage contributions from such icons as Regina King, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Gwen Ifill and Chuck D.
Also contributing are several articulate teens who weigh-in with their heartfelt feelings on issues ranging from dating to skin color preferences to hair straightening to promiscuity to their weights and shapes. The overall point being driven home is that they are generally frustrated by their inability to measure up to an unachievable cultural ideal which places thin white females with hour-glass figures up on a pedestal.
Out of a sense of desperation to be seen as attractive, some girls admit to compromising their values by engaging in binge dieting and unprotected sex in an attempt to mimic the scantily-clad dancers they see cavorting seductively in rap videos. Ms. King regrets that we have “a whole generation of lost women who don’t that it’s okay to be you.” Meanwhile, Jada reflects upon herself having gone “through a period of shame.” Fortunately, the participants are ultimately optimistic and offer positive solutions, such as Ms. Ifill who proudly asserts “My beauty has value” while finding satisfaction when greeted by aspiring journalists who see her as a role model.
With Michelle Obama poised to become our First Lady, this proves to be a timely debate about who gets to define what is beautiful.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 52 minutes
Distributor: Femme Noire Productions