Posts tagged body
Posts tagged body
Why Objectifying the Breasts of “Tribal African Women” Is Part of a Racist Legacy
Invoking the image of African women “as a lesson” to Western women has a long, ugly history in racism, slavery, and colonialism. There is terrible, terrible tradition in Western cultures of making the bodies of indigenous peoples open to criticism, commentary, and co-optation, and of using their bodies as an example of what not to look like. The same mindset that makes it okay to use a photo of a “tribal African woman” to make a point about bras, is the same mindset that makes it okay to use a photo of a black woman’s natural hair as an example of how not to look and that allows the skin-lightening cream industry to thrive.
That contrast – of the naked with the clothed, the savage with the refined, the dark with the light, the superior with the inferior – is part of a horrid and horrifying legacy that reinforced a Eurocentric standard of beauty upon the skin, hair, lips, noses, breasts, and buttocks of black women. Pointing to the breasts of “tribal African woman’s” as evidence of your bra-wearing rightness (because let’s face it, there are other places to get photos of bare breasts than National Geographic) is the 21st century equivalent of gawping at Sarah Bartmann’s labia.
There is something very exploitative about not only co-opting and subverting the photos of these women, but also of essentializing them…of reducing them to one specific body part – their breasts. Their bosoms become a prop or a tool to aid in commerce: the selling of bras. That is the definition of objectification, and if you are a breast expert or bra expert or even someone who claims to want to help women, objectifying non-Western women should never be a part of that. “Tribal African women” do not exist to buttress the bra industry. Their bodies are not a cautionary tale for what happens if you go braless. And all this would be true even if the research said bras will keep your breasts from sagging.
Listen, if wearing a bra makes you feel better for whatever reason (more support, less pain, preferred shape, fashion and style, whatever), that’s great. People should wear bras if they want to wear them for whatever reason they want to wear them for. There’s nothing wrong or bad about wanting support or shaping or what have you. But there’s no need to resort to tired tropes, body myths, urban legends, and racist stereotypes to explain your preference. Just say you like them…and move on.
(Source: , via hotlingerie)