Beyonce Ad Sends Girls the Message That Being ‘Just Black’ Is Boring (VIDEO)

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BeyonceLet’s review some basic facts: Beyonce is a singular, pop cultural force. Beyonce is stunningly gorgeous. But Beyonce is not without her fair share of race-related scandals.

First she was accused of giving the OK for her pictures to be lightened, making her caramel complexion appear two shades paler than it actually is in real life. That controversy has cropped up on magazine covers she’s been featured on, which can only happen but so often before you have to raise an eyebrow and wonder how many times someone’s skin color can — oops! — accidentally be Photoshopped down a shade or two. And it’s not even like the child is dark in the first place, which really pushes the age-old, but still unspoken belief: “the lighter, the better.”

At the root of her latest dust-up: L'Oreal True Match ads she’s doing that list her as “African American, French, and Native American.” OK Bey. Sigh.



First of all, “French” is not a race. There are about seven major ethnic groups in that country, ranging from North Africans to Indochinese. Ergo, saying you’re “French” is just as generic as saying you’re “American” when you’re talking about a racial or ethnic context. Her dad is black, so I guess he makes up the African-American part. Her mother is Creole, a blend of French, African, Spanish, and Native American heritages. But the word I do believe she was searching for was “white,” which leads me to my second point.

If you shake down the family tree of the majority of black folks in this country, you’ll find some kind of European ancestry because of, you know, that whole African colonization and American slavery thing. You might even find some Native American (though not as much as some of us would like to believe, I’m sure). At the end of all the calculatin’, though, that still makes us African-American. No further explanation necessary because, like Prego, it’s already in there.

And I could shake my head, roll my eyes, and turn the page or the channel, leaving her to her own neon-bright color and racial hang-ups as hers to hash out and deal with whenever she looks in the mirror — if she wasn’t a multimillion album-selling international superstar with legions of fans, particularly young black girls, who look up to her. The one in this household loves Beyonce. So when Bey claims that she’s more than just black, she’s in essence sending the message that being just black isn’t good enough.

Being just black lacks oomph and wow factor. Being just black is boring. Being a quarter-this and a third-that, however, apparently makes a woman just the right blend of exotic and desirable. You see it time and time again when you flip through the pages of a hip-hop magazine or read an interview with a “video model.” So what are girls whose families identify as just plain ol’ black supposed to think when their superstar hero, who looks like them, doesn’t celebrate her blackness?

Honestly, she seems like a nice person. I just think being in the industry for so long has tainted her perceptions of race and beauty. I hate to compare her and her sister but in this case I will, because Solange seems so comfortable with who she is naturally, from hair to skin. But she doesn’t have, nor does she want, the kind of celebrity that the eldest Knowles girl has. It would be nice, though, if one of the biggest stars on the stage wasn’t always vying for the blondest, straightest, longest weave or the lightest skin or the most impressive ethnic makeup. In being happy with who she is, she could help the girls who look up to her do the same.

Have you seen the True Match ads for Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez?


Image via beelover9481/Flickr

body image, issues, tough topics

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TKsMo... TKsMommie

Why shouldn't she be proud of all of her heritage, not just the african american part?  One of your statements was that she should be proud of who she is.   She is, and is proud of more than just the parts you want her to be.  I'm not a huge Beyonce fan but I admire the fact that she isn't saying what everyone wants to hear to fit the box other people want to put her in.  She is saying who she is, is good enough.   With or without your approval.  

Michelle Naylor

Please go look up Aimee Mullins' ad for the same product. I'd expect the same type of commentary on her heritage since you have an issue with Beyonce's.

femal... femaleMIKE

I have an issue with the photoshopping to make her lighter.  I've heard about this issue since the 1990s.  I remember watching this show(I was about 12 at the time) where they were talking about how most "black" actors were light skinned.  The darker toned people had a harder time finding work. 


I don't have an issue with how she identifies herself.  She wants people to know her complete heritage.  Most people aren't just plain "black" or plain "white". 

Jayde... Jaydensgeemom

Write about something positive and educational, sis.  Sounds like your HATING 

Craft... CraftyJenna

Your contradicting yourself, apparently she can only be proud of part of her heritage? Why shouldn't she be able to list everything, because that's where she comes from. Also, I think using "french" that way was appropriate, she listed heritage, not color. If she listed color what would she have said? Black, white and red? That would be offensive.

nonmember avatar Liz

So by celebrating other aspects of her cultural heritage that automatically means she's not celebrating being black? That's a pretty narrow-minded view, if you ask me. And how is African American any more of a race than French? You do realize that WHITE people from Africa can move to America and would therefore be considered African-American, right? The same way someone would be considered Japanese American or German American. All the name is indicative of is your, or your ancestors country of origin, NOT your ethnicity.

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

The point of true match make up is that it suits women of all skin tones. They don't want to say that the make up is perfect if you are a lily white Celt or an almost literally black Ethiopian. Most people have a mixed heritage of some type in this country, you have fairly light skin and some Caucasian features yourself, so they want to make sure that their makeup appeals to those of mixed race.



I really don't care if they alter skin tone a bit in those photos. Everyone knows that they're touched up. I've seen white women being lightened up too and black people being darkened (especially rappers who want to be seen as really black) and white people being darkened a bit to make them look tanned. I don't think it's a question of changing their race, it's about making the photo look good. Some colors look better with lighter skin tones and some with darker and the lighting can affect the shoot too so a bit of fiddling in either direction can make the photo look better.

Kritika Kritika

^^ I was gonna say the same thing. They lighten and alter white people's ads all the time. I'm agreeing with RhondaVeggie a lot lately!

Zamaria Zamaria

I agree with RhondaVeggie. Also, why shouldnt she talk about her heritage other than being black? She should be proud of all of her heritage, not just one part of it. I teach my kids black history, but I also teach them Irish, native American and German history because that is a part of them too. I have never been a fan of her's, but honestly hearing that she is embracing all of these things makes me like her a little bit more.

cocob... cocobeannns

I agree with everyone above me. Kind of silly to be mad at her for embracing all of who she is.

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