Beauty Tells Lies To The Eyes of The Beholder

Beyonce - Pretty Hurts

Beyonce - Pretty Hurts

Once I heard “Oh I didn’t know that was your type”. I had to consider the possibility that I actually had a type: the type of person that I would date or even fall in love with for the rest of my life based on the last person I was seen attracted to in public. I’m a sort of tall, curly haired, very fair skinned guy, mixed with too many ethnicities to even try and claim one background, but my race as stated previously is: Black. I’m so fair skinned that I used to think my father was white. My sister and I couldn’t understand why he wanted to teach us about civil rights history when we were growing up in the 1980s. Seriously!

Insta-jokes via Instagram

Insta-jokes via Instagram

My whole life I’ve had some assumptions made about me. I’ve considered them advantages because of how other people reacted to “Jimmy, the light skinned(ed..ed) guy”. The jeri-curled pastor at a little church in Chicago called Little Mountain of Hope called it “favor”, as he stared with lusty eyes on my visiting mother standing in-between her dark skinned cousins who were lifetime members. Girl you and your kids are blessings, he said. People smile more, especially women. I’m more eligible when I am a bachelor. I’ve even heard people describe me, as “the light skinned pretty bastard”. With a long pause and laugh before the bastard. It’s like an acceptable amount of disgust, understood by all as something less than hate.

Well into my thirty’s it hasn’t stopped. Light skinned jokes on Instagram, tagged to me, even Zambian friends from my years living in Johannesburg who changed my name to Jamujay call me “Yellow” as a nickname from time to time. Their friends would introduce themselves and say “Jamujay, don’t fuck my girl”, with an LOL. I’m fine with it honestly, because there is no derogatory sentiment in the nickname or assumptions, specific to me. It’s hard to be offended when someone else is punched, right?  But I should be offended by the meaning that the assumptions hold for every dark skinned person.

insta-jokes via instagram

insta-jokes via instagram

My life experience suggests that beauty is in the eyes of the society, or rather beauty is a method and not simply an exploration of the beholder. Ugly is an awesome concept when I think about it. My closest friend and I used to dispel a sort of philosophy in college about what good-looking was and how to maximize ones potential, as the younger men would bring beer and sit around to hear us rant. We had a categorization the likes of a movie critic to establish differences between cute, pretty, beautiful, sexy, etc.

I typically dated the big-breast light skinned girls...and it was expected of me. It wasn’t forced and I was always attracted to them of course. I also liked the flat-chest, skinny, dark girls. In high school, my first was just like that. She was self conscious until I told her to just show off and that I like everything, the way she had it. Even the first girl I liked enough to steal a kiss from was a wide-eyed black girl from around the corner. It wasn’t sexual harassment in 1988.

As a bisexual, my type is pretty broad to begin with, but the socialization of what I should like combined with what I initially liked has rendered me type-less. I’m a stickler (no pun intended) for design, so lines and symmetry are important in my partner’s look, relative to me. My partners should look good with me as an accessory. Some people prefer other things. The boys just made it more complicated. My big-breast light-skinned former fiancé said to me once, “I just didn’t see you dating a skinny black man”. Projecting onto me: her tone was offended. I’m sure that she couldn’t see his beauty.

Ugly Betty w/ Bow Wow

Ugly Betty w/ Bow Wow

As I look around the LGBTQ community and consider what queer people think is beautiful or more importantly attractive, I’ve noticed a large number turn away from the norm. Skinny, Chubby, Black, Albino, Oblong, Squinty-Eyed, Wide Thigh, Effeminate, Egg Shaped, Straight Haired, Four Eyed, Bearded, boys & girls finding love in familiar places…

Men have it easy because they haven’t historically held a "beautiful" status in Western culture. Something as simple as a bath and a suit (any suit) goes a long way. Men’s attractiveness has structure; it has been taken away from their person and assigned to their stature or status or suit, even.

Feminine beauty is a seemingly cyclical business. Women, Lesbians, and Trans-people find themselves wearing their label under constant scrutiny: with immediate reactions of disgust for disapproval. Once I heard “Oh I didn’t know that was your type”, and I thought of my dark plump cousin Pooh and her girlfriend who looked like the full bodied video vixens of 2000s rap videos. Queer attractions range from narcissistic to gallant. Simply because we’ve accepted ourselves and are OUT as outcasts in a system of beauty, the love and relations are relatively uninhibited. I’ve been into a sex act with people who were given the label "beautiful" and the inhibitions surrounding beauty killed the potential for a good time. A woman who can’t mess up her hair, makes everyone frown...and grimace is always ugly.

WHAT LIES HAS BEAUTY TOLD TO YOU?  DID YOU BELIEVE THEM?

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NYE 2014.jpg

@JFKII
writer, cultural critic, special contributor to 50 Shades of Black

My life experience suggests that beauty is in the eyes of the society, or rather beauty is a method and not simply an exploration of the beholder.
Posted on January 8, 2014 and filed under personal stories, LGBT, Body Image.