While viewing the blog Beautiful Black Women: Thoughts of a White B'woy, I came upon these images. I believe Andreas displayed them as a way of admiring black women as he always does, but the images compelled me to dig deeper and analyze.
Take a look at these pictures of Magazine covers in the 1950s. click on image for full view.
After viewing these pictures I can say quite a few things:
1) Black women were absolutely beautiful back then, and whoever is swallowing the hogwash that says black women are just naturally inclined to be big or overweight or “thick” is wrong. The women in the 50’s did not look like what I see everywhere I go including on the television these days. Here is a tip, work out and get healthy ladies. No if, ands, or buts. Where there is a will, there is always a way. In addition, it says that black women and the lives they are leading need to seriously be further examined. A lot must not be right for an entire group of women to physically morph into double of what used to be their norm, in a span of just 50 years.
2) Black women being shut out from glamorization in Hollywood, usually given to white women, is not a new thing at all. In my opinion, some progress has been made, but I say we (black women) stop trying to get the full recognition and glamour that we deserve all together and create our own avenues of media distribution and films. Either do that, or try to market ourselves in a way that appeals to all markets! Not just black.
3) Black women were sexualized and fetishized in the 50’s much like they are today. Just look at the face of the women on the cover of Say magazine. She has a very sultry look on her face. And then look at how each one of them are exposing their cleavage in revealing suits. I certainly don’t see much emphasis being placed on the bottom like the smut magazines of today, but I do think these magazines were printed with the black male gaze in mind and zero recognition of the black female gaze. So it makes me think? Were these women the predecessors of the Raunch Culture we view today? I suppose we perpetuate it, but were they (both the black women and the black men in the 50’s who subscribed to these magazines) aware of the consequences of what they mass produced? Did they not realize the inherent difference in choosing to market the women in these ways after the long history black women have in the U.S. regarding sexual exploitation? Or was this considered tastefully done? I am not sure but intend to do some research.
4) This makes me think about famous Blues singers of the 1920s like Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Ida Cox and the like. They were known for their talented voices, but also for the sexually suggestive (or as sexually suggestive as you could get away with in the 50’s) lyrics of their songs. I wonder what, if anything, this did to harm the image of black women back then and today? I am not placing immense blame on them because in some ways I feel they were not aware that black women could occupy a respectable and admirable realm that did not limit her to just the Hattie McDaniel mammy-figure. After all, they were singing for crowds of the black working class. Black women in the upper echelons of black American society did not like the songs they chose to sing.
How do you as a young black woman feel about these images?