Earlier this week, Psychology Today published a study by Satoshia Kanazawa that asked, why are black women less physically attractive than other women. The article stated that men, across the races, were generally rated as having a similar level of attractiveness, with black men rating higher. Whereas black women rank lower on the attractiveness scale than any other race of women.
Add Health (The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health) interviewers measured the physical attractiveness of its respondents both objectively and subjectively, over a seven year period. Respondents were graded on a five-point scale: 1 = very unattractive, 2 = unattractive, 3 = about attractive, 4 = attractive, 5 = very attractive.
The results were: Women from all races on average rated more physically attractive than the average person, except for black women. The article further stated, black women ranked average, yet far less attractive that white, Asian, and Native American women.
But the purpose of Kanazawa’s study was to determine why black women are the least attractive of women. Here is Kanazawa’s finding: testosterone. Yep, the male hormone. He said Africans on average have higher levels of testosterone than any other race. That testosterone in people of African descent affect the physical attractiveness of women differently than it does women. It makes black men more masculine and attractive than other races, whereas it decreases the level of attractiveness in black women.
I will leave it up to you to determine whether Kanazawa’s conclusion is valid or not. But I do want to throw in my two cents.
First of all, let me just say, I don’t think black women are unattractive at all. I think we are the race of women who least look like the “American Standard of Beauty”. So, if we are being graded by what we as people have been socialized to consider beautiful, then black women, with our broad noses, thick thighs, dark skin, full lips and nappy hair least match that standard.
I think it is important that we also look at who the interviewers were. If the interviewers were primarily non-black people, that would play a role in the responses. However, not a significant role. I say that because even we, black people, have bought into the notion that the closer to white we appear, the more attractive we are. This has been proven time and time again by studies like Kenneth and Mamie Clark’s white/black doll study. It is also proven on a daily basis within our own community by our selection of people we promote, date, and see on tv. Many of us have to look way beyond the smoke screen of complexion just to see the beauty in our own people.
Ask yourself, are complexion and more Caucasian-looking features (straight hair, thin nose, etc) the reason Beyonce is considered more attractive than India Arie? What about Alicia Keyes? Is she more attractive than Mary J. Blige? If so, why? I’m not saying MJB and India Arie are not beautiful. But society seems to appreciate the lighter and brighter complexions of Beyonce and Alicia Keys more.
So, let me sum it all up for you by saying this: black women are not the most unattractive of women. Society has been socialized to believe that we are.
I’d also like to mention that Psychology Today pulled the study two days after it posted it.