Wednesday, April 11, 2007

women of color of the world unite!



let us take a cue from shakira and beyonce who show us in their latest collabo that black and latina women can come together for the common purpose of self objectification.

full body convulsions aside, what is most disturbing about this video is the way shakira and beyonce seem to morph into each other, indistinguishable forms, possessing the same thinned bodies and long, blond locks.

it is amazing the homogeneity we find when we anglicize ourselves.

keep doing it up for barranquilla and houston, women: if we're going to commodify our sexualities, we might as well do it collectively.

14 comments:

Elizabeth said...

i mean, can we throw some bell hooks or a. davis on them?
i'm always curious as to whether or not consumers demand the anglicization of female bodies, or whether the flood of images dictates ad/pr etc. agencies create these uniform images...

i might even laugh at the absurdity of shakira and beyonce gyrating to the tune of 'white beauty', except when i think of michael jackson's disappearing nose and skin-lightening ads in ghana...the laughter chokes.

Elizabeth said...

i should qualify: they have a touch of that...shall we name it "sass", the ambigious ethnic characteristic that adds a touch of exoticization, for all those who enjoy the fetishization of the Other - within the comfort of normativity of course.

Andom said...

Preach sista! this post is dope but, from now on, can you please not posit black and latina as distinct groupings, even not for simplicity's sake. let us be precise in our racial definitions lest we buttress the absurd constructions of race. i know you know well, sista naima, that black and latina have "come together" for centuries, for, in reality, they are one and the same thing.

Naima said...

as a blatina myself (hispanic being the way in which i am black) i understand fully your point, brother andom.

you are right that i am wrong to operate within (and thus affirm)the dominant understanding of latina and black as fundamentally racially different.

from henceforth, i'ma disrupt "absurd constructions of race" more cautiously.

holler for the Diaspora.

Anonymous said...

Ummm. I see nothing wrong with this. This is about as tame as the Yale Belly dancing society. I think it's important to note that Shakira and Beyonce may fit some of the white stereotypes of beauty, but not all. For instance they both have "full figures." So we can't really say that it's plays completely in to "White beauty." Every erotic representation of the female body is not negative and I see nothing wrong with these womens tasteful celebration off their sexuality. But if we want to go down that road where's the outrage at the commoditization of the black male body. check this out..http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udaf1BGCtZ8 note the rippling abs at the end..Outraged? Should the angelization of teh female body be anymore concerning than the need to present the black male body as powerful and imposing? i know that's two lines of thought..my bad.

Elizabeth said...

anonymous - a few points. it's rather strange that beyonce and shakira look like...shakira, not beyonce who is despite various magazine attempts to brighten up backgrounds, a black female. it is telling that beyonce looks remarkably lighter than she did several years ago when she debuted. and shakira's skin - looks none the darker.

second, the prevalence of tanning, the popularity of so-called ethnic full-figures, and collagen to the lips - these fads (and time will tell if these newly desirable attributes are sincere changes to the standard or if they're just that - a fad, the way cowrie shells, afros, buddhist beads, and indian slippers have been - many of which have been marketed from places such as abercrombie & fitch to gap, abandoned when that particular ethnic trend no longer had currency in the fashion world) - these in no way signfy that the normative standard of white beauty has been fundementally altered. hip hop's infiltration into the mainstream has brought some black cultural accoutrements with it, such as full-figuredness. but it's funny that this full-figuredness needs to be accompanied by lighter skin, as if to temper this change to body standards by placing it within the dialectic of white normativity.

but you're right - not all sexual representations of the female body should be considered misogynistic, though when these images appear to be the *only* images of the female, it's difficult to claim that this video is innocent. but maybe we're asking too much for video directors to think outside the box?

black male bodies as oversexualized, over-muscular? def. a problem. another post....

Brittani said...

Also, I'm not sure this is comparable to the Yale belly dancing society. Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think they lighten or lengthen their hair and lighten their skin. What they do is part of their performance. Sure Beyonce is performing but I wasn't aware that morphing into another race/anglicizing one's body was necessary to sing.

Anonymous said...

I meant that this video's "sexiness" is comparable to the Yale Belly dance society and thus it's hard to say the video is anymore objectifying than what they do, As the original post suggested...I would also say that it's a music video and hence she is required to do more than "just sing", there's a visual component. I agree though that taking on some of the other races characteristics is not necessary; although I would say the video was obviously going for homogenity of appearance, hence the same black outfits and dance moves by both women...

Naima said...

i don't necessarily think singer/songwriters need to do more than "just sing," but certainly performance is important to the career of an artist.

i just wish, anonymous, that "the visual component" did not have to be one of a racialized rampant sexuality with such demeaning, disempowering historical resonances.

Elizabeth said...

"I would say the video was obviously going for homogenity of appearance, hence the same black outfits and dance moves by both women..."

...and same white skin.

Anonymous said...

I'm just saying the homogenity is about more than same white skin. It's part of the performance for them to look the same way. I'm not denying your point about the skin colour in general though but in this case we can't just say they're trying to make her white. Their trying to make them look the same in more ways than skin colour.

Christine said...

Hi everyone,

So I do agree with a lot of what is being said, but there are some things I disagree with and would like to comment on.

Firstly, about shakira and beyonce looking alike. I doubt that at least in this video they are trying to make beyonce look white. Beyonce and Shakira just happening to look alike. I noticed it a few years ago when shakira was doing a Pepsi commercial and I thought she was beyonce for a minute. Its more a bone structure thing than a skin lightening, body thinning, and hair bleaching thing. They have similar faces. Also I don't think beyonce's skin looks white in this video, and even if it does, let's not forget that black people come in all shades and hues.
I agree that often in the entertainment industry performers who are of color are pushed or decide to try to attain "white features" (Shakira was originally a brunette) but I don't think that is the central purpose of this video.

Since there is some mention of Yale Belly dance Society (YUBS), I also wanted to speak on that since I'm a member (I am not speaking officially for the organization, this is just my persona view). I don't really have an issue with this video as far as the dancing. One thing that I really like about shakira is that she is half Coloumbian and half Lebanese and celebrates all of her heritage, which is where the belly dancing comes in.
As far a belly dance itself, it is a dance that celebrates women and sensuality (not sexuality, but I guess some people seem to think that as well). YUBS does really try to do that, if you ever see a show, none of us look a like, there is no one body type. Everyone is celebrated.

The dancing in this video is not pure belly dance and you would probably not see some of the moves (dancing on walls for example) at a YUBS show. But I like the duet at the end, and I think that the fact that a lot people see this a being overly sexual or whatever, is really just Western views taking something that is different or not readily understood and misconstruing it as something negative. Which is interesting because people are accusing the video of anglicizing these two women and trying to make them conform to western standards of beauty, however most of the dancing is not of a western style, and many people seem find it inappropriate, which is what many people in western civilization have been taught to think!

Anyway, these women are not naked, they're not pole dancing, or gyrating all over the place for a crowd of men. They seem to be celebrating their femininity. I think it expresses the beauty of a more full figured woman's body. Whether it's tasteful or not comes down to personal opinion. (I think it is.)

natalyloveless said...

wow u guys dont know anything about shakira. Her skin is darkened SEVERELY. Look at her earlier albums. Pies Descalzos for example. Her skin is very white.

Maybe you guys should get the facts before you try to analyze things that aren't there.

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