Fitting People in Forms

by Akane Yoshimura

African American women’s skin color influences their lives considerably. Historically, their skin color has been affecting their self-esteem and socioeconomic achievement. However, it is remarkable to see a change in this trend. The surveys carried in the 1990s show that dark skinned teens are more confident about their appearance than before. The author of chapter two “A Colorstruck World: Skin Tone, Achievement, and Self-Esteem Among African American Women” of the book Shades of Difference assumes a reason for this change which is the Black is Beautiful movement. This happened in the 1960s and is still encouraging black people. The movement denies the thought that black feature is ugly, and prevents black people from erasing their appearance by straightening their hair, lightening their skin, and using contact lenses to change their eye color. The author says that this movement is now reflected in the self-esteem of dark skinned teens.

So, how do we feel this change? I realized that this seems to be something happening somewhere far away, for us in Japan. Sure, blacks are a minority group in the population in Japan, but I think we can feel this change through music and other facts. We are all living in a world which is mutually connected, so we can think about this situation as something related to us. As a same gender, I cannot overlook the fact that some women have to think about their skin color when they are thinking about their marriage. As a same teenager, I hope more girls will be happy about their appearance and not estimate themselves with their skin color. I think this is what the Black is Beautiful Movement is doing. So, if the Black is Beautiful movement is changing the feelings of black people from inside, what can we do as people outside? As the author says, the environment around people will give a big influence to what they think about themselves. In the video we saw in class, a teenage girl said if a student wore suits and had an afro-style hair, it will just not fit. Who made this status? Do we have to fit in to it? I do not want to fully criticize the customs and rules in the society, but after doing the presentation, I have a feeling that if we can get rid of the way we try to fit people (including oneself) in a particular form, we can be more free to accept differences.


Verna M. Keith. 2009. “A Colorstruck World: Skin Tone, Achievement, and Self-Esteem Among African American Women” in Shades of Difference: Why Skin Color Matters, edited by Evelyn Nakano Glenn. Stanford, California : Stanford University Press

Wikipedia. Black is Beautiful. Retrieved May 23, 2012 from

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