Are Negro Girls Getting Prettier?
Ebony February 1966, Vol. 21 Issue 4, p25
The article focuses on the improvements in the beauty, health and personality of African American women. According to a survey, the African American women are considered to have improved in their charm and beauty. The medical specialists think that better nutrition and the grooming knowledge have contributed to the improvement in their beauty. Edward W. Beasley, a pediatrician, states that dancing is good for the development of limbs and is thus advisable for women. Abstract from Ebsco.
“Experts say better nutrition, grooming, know-how have brought improvement.” Gone, “…are the spindly legs, sagging bosoms, unruly rumps and ungroomed heads that marred many a potential lovely of yesteryear. Such common flaws have been displaced by a feminine refinement, both facial and physical, that has elevated today’s young lady of hue to a place of prominence among the most pulchritudinous.”
In the April 1966 issue of the magazine, Ebony shared several letters to the editor in reaction to “Are Negro Girls Getting Prettier?” article. Some of the letters Ebony published, to Ebony’s credit, were quite scathing (Click the image of the letters below to view a larger version).
Judging Ebony’s 49 year old cover article, from a 2015 perspective, would be unfair. However, given the reaction of some of the readers, during the period, it is clear issues of beauty are no less controversial then as they are today.
What is most remarkable is that these issues persists to this day and continue to be exacerbated by Black media.
Even through natural hairstyles are becoming increasingly popular among Black women, rarely do these sisters grace the cover of magazines.
At least the days of cover stories like this have past, but we still have a long way to go. One of the Ebony magazine readers, in 1966, put it best, “…you should view the ‘sisters’ through your own eyes and not through the eyes of a ‘Chuck’ and his standards.”
Of course no AALBC.com blog post would be complete without a book recommendation. Vintage Black Glamour (Rocket 88 Books, February 18, 2015) is an gorgeous archive of glamor photographs covering a 100 year period with diverse images of Black beauty. This volume will demonstrate, for those who had any doubt; Black women were ALWAYS beautiful.
Using rarely accessed photographic archives and private collections, inspired by her family history, Nichelle Gainer has unearthed a revealing treasure trove of historic photographs of famous actors, dancers, writers and entertainers who worked in the 20th-century entertainment business, but who rarely appeared in the same publications as their white counterparts.
Alongside the familiar images and stories of renowned performers such as Eartha Kitt, Lena Horne and Aretha Franklin are photos of literary legends such as Lorraine Hansberry and Maya Angelou as well as images of less well-remembered figures such as Bricktop, Pearl Primus, Diana Sands. Vintage Black Glamour is a unique, sumptuous and revealing celebration of the lives and indomitable spirit of Black women of a previous era.
Although talented, successful and ground-breaking, many of the women in these
pages were ignored by mainstream media, but their life’s work and attitude stand as
inspiration for us still, today. With its stunning photographs and insightful
biographies, this book is a hugely important addition to Black history archives.