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.

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“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).

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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.

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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.

vintage-black-glamor

Vintage Black Glamour Includes over 150 stunning black and white and color photographs — including many rare and unseen archive images.

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.

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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.

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    • Author Jeannie Eneh

      African-American Women has always had an astounding beauty about us.
      Beauty is just not about the physical part; our beauty comes from the
      strong upbringing that our Mother’s instilled in us as kids and by
      having an inner love for one’s self; once you nail that; everyone else
      can see your beauty as a whole person.

      • Vintage Black Glamour really is a great book which demonstrates exactly what you wrote. The book is more than just photos each one has a terrific article which provides interesting information about the shot and the subject.

  • Diana Roberts

    Mr.Paul Beatty – A few weeks ago I started to read White Boy Shuffle as I was intrigued by the title. I was blown away by the sheer honesty wrapped in laugh out loud humor and vocabulary that kept me running to the dictionary. Then I read Tuff and tonight I began reading Sellout. Not since the days of Malcolm X’s unveiled rhetoric have I felt that someone is so real. Thank you for being a
    breath of fresh air in a society that hides behind political correctness as if
    speaking truth were dirty. I only wish our President and politicians would have
    your courage.

  • moplus

    No! They have always been pretty.

  • Pingback: This Shockingly Colorist and Racist 1966 Ebony Magazine Cover Shows How Far We’ve Come - find-a-black-salon.com()

  • Carolina Sander

    I know there is a unique beauty inside a persons heart! Hey try checking this out! try the new Fake Ultrasound designs and make announcement of a prank pregnancy ahahah. from Fakeababy.

  • Mr Eeko

    You hardly see them running around anymore with bones in their noses and lip plates, but other than that they are still the ugliest things on hind legs.