Misrepresentations in the Media | Coloured Women (pt 1)

In this modern day and age, technology and media are blooming and growing, which in turn, shapes our lives, perspectives and beliefs. It constantly surrounds us, making it inevitable to not encounter in our everyday lives. This is why it’s so important and socially sensitive.

The media is there to make money, yes, but what is shown on it can be, in the long-term, harmful.

 

Women tend to be portrayed in the media as domestic and passive, the “side-kick” to the man. They are sexualized, and represented as quiet and soft. 

 

Generally, coloured women in the media are sub-plots and are rarely the love interest or the extremely successful ones. They are there to be the “sassy black girl” for drama and humour or there for other purposes other than being the beautiful, successful, overall well liked characters.

A good example of this is the Disney Channel sitcom The Proud Family. Penny Proud, a light skinned girl, is perceived as this adorable, pretty, likeable character whereas other darker skinned characters, for example Dijonay Jones, are perceived as stupid and unlikeable characters.

An article I found, Pride and Prejudice: Pervasiveness of Colorism and the Animated Series Proud Family,  written by Catherine Steele couldn’t have said it any better:

“Attributes of wealth, beauty, and intelligence are applied to characters with Eurocentric phenotypic characteristics while deviance, stupidity, poverty and unattractiveness typify characters with more Afrocentric facial features.”

The Gross Sisters, bullies who tend to be violent, are blue. Yes, they are blue. Why? In The Proud Family, these characters are made to work on the weekends by the parents, with the hot sun beating down on the them. They supposedly cannot afford lotion and that is why they are blue. The show emphasises they are “ashy blue” because of their dark skin. Collectively, the dark skinned characters in this show are associated with stupidity, aggression and poverty.

This was a kids show. A show in which kids will watch and go away, their minds imprinted with the idea that being dark skinned is ugly.

 

You don’t need to have fair/light skin, freckles or a thin nose to be pretty or beautiful. You can embrace “ethnic” qualities like dark skin, bigger lips, wider noses, etc, and be beautiful and smart and likeable because white women aren’t the only type of women that can be successful. Race shouldn’t define success.

 

Since The Proud Family, which ran between 2001-2005, there have been more occurrences of colourism in the media. However, there have also been shows which fight this misrepresentation and broaden the branches of feminism from just white feminism. Examples include the women in Black Panther, Orange is the New Black, Iris West in the Flash (yes, she did start off mainly as a sub-plot), Annalise Keating in How To Get Away With Murder. And we need more of this!

All we really ask is for dark skinned women not to be defined beautiful by European standards and to be portrayed in the media, not as their stereotypes but as developed and dynamic characters!

“…little black girls of any skin tone won’t ever have to question their looks. Society will learn to tell them they are beautiful, and they can respond confidently by saying, ‘I know’.” 

-Iman Hassan

 

-Shay

41 thoughts on “Misrepresentations in the Media | Coloured Women (pt 1)

  1. Jade rainbow says:

    Shay.
    First of all, my name is Jade, and I’m new here. Which is the reason I haven’t commented on your posts before.
    I’d like to say that there few posts I have seen that talks about color that I agree with. But congratulations i agree with yours. As a brown woman i’m Tired of not seeing families like mine portrayed in the media correctly. If you ever see a brown family either they’re all doctors, or all in poverty,or terrorist.So you talking about a topic that means so much to me makes me feel included.
    If you don’t mind me asking. What race are you? Please note, you don’t have to answer if you don’t wish. I’m just curious.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shay says:

      Welcome! 😄 Exactly, most of the time when ethnic minorities are portrayed in the media, it’s based on their stereotypes. I’m glad I could make you feel included. I’m brown but I’m from Mauritius, which is in Africa, an island next to Madagascar, so it gets a bit complicated when taking about my ethnicity and things like that especially when it comes to those personal details forms you have to fill in. 😂 Where are you from, if you don’t mind me asking?

      Like

      • Jade rainbow says:

        Ahh. Africa.
        How interesting. I’m middle eastern!!! Although if you asked people I look Indian. Soo. I’ve always wanted to do a post on race but I’ve been to scared.
        Do people think you’re from India? Lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Shay says:

        Yes! People think I’m from a wide variety of countries. I’ve gotten Indian, Sri Lankan, mixed (with Mexican), etc. It gets annoying when people just assume where you’re from. But not a lot of people know about Mauritius so can’t blame them. And you should definitely do a post on race! Who cares what people think, it’s an important topic to talk about!

        Like

      • Jade rainbow says:

        “Hey I know where you’re from? Want me to tell you?”
        “Sure why the hell not?”
        “Let me guess indian? Black? Oh i get it!!!! Nigerian?”
        That’s hw most of my conversations go.
        my personal favorite is Nigerian??? Huh? I’m brown, now black. Also someone asked me if black and indian were the same thing??? Like i Like i just stood there wondering where people went wrong.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Shay says:

        I’ve also gotten people talking to me in their language, assuming I know what they’re saying. I can barely speak English 😂 And haha it’s amazing how ignorant people can be 😂

        Like

      • Jade rainbow says:

        Omg I have to tell you this particular story that a white woman told me.
        So I was casually walking in my neighborhood when some white woman came up to me and said.
        “I love your skin. I want to lay in the sun and get skin just like yours.” Uh… uh…
        hahahahah my math teacher thought i was indian. or do people ask you if they can have your hair??

        Liked by 1 person

      • Shay says:

        Omg hahahahahah what the hell 😂😂😂 How do you respond to that 😂 I’ve never had someone ask for my hair but I used to have really really long hair so I got a lot of compliments. But when I wanted to cut it, I was told “you should keep it long, your “people” have nice silky long hair like you.”

        Like

      • Shay says:

        Hahah being blind doesn’t make you stupid. Mines straight but a little wavy. What about you? Omg I HATE when people say “why are you acting black” cause they’re referring to being “ghetto” or “aggressive”. Being black doesn’t mean being aggressive.

        Like

      • Jade rainbow says:

        My hair is naturally curly but most days I straighten it. But when I don’t do anything it’s thick and just ghaldkfjsl. I know right? being black doesn’t mean that you’re aggressive!!! Or people wonder why I don’t have enough white friends. And I’m like I can be friends with who I want. Do people think you’re black because you’re from Africa?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Shay says:

        Curly hair is so pretty!! And I know a friend who has a racist grandma who always asks (in front of her friends) why she doesn’t have white friends 😂 And people think a lot of things because of where I’m from 😂

        Like

      • Shay says:

        I can imagine, I have a a few friends with very curly hair. But it does look very pretty. Pain is beauty, huh… 😂😬 And yes, whenever I go to her house, her grandma can’t be near. I’m terrified! I can’t even think of the worst one though. I work in retail, though, and this man came up to the till. He didn’t look at me at all and didn’t talk or anything and when I said have a nice day, he looked me dead in the eye and said “what is this, America?” I just knew he was referring to the fact that I’m darker skinned and shouldn’t be talking to him, etc. I think it’s become second nature to know when people are or are being racist without saying much. Do you know what I mean? I’ve also encountered rude stares on the bus. But I’m actually grateful I haven’t experienced extreme comments like other people have. What’s your worst?

        Like

      • Jade rainbow says:

        Oh god… Yeah curly hair is a pain.
        I hate when people tell me that I speak excellent English??? What? You wouldn’t tell white Americans that. So why would you tell me that? Or I was I’m math class. And I love my teacher was like “mmm I’m cjraving indian food.” And I new why he said that. It‘ sunny to me!!! Because I’m not indian.
        Or when ever people ask me if I have to marry my cousin? Or if my dad has 2 wives? or if the bombs fall on our houses. Hahahah i just laugh.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Shay says:

        I’ve never had someone tell me my English is excellent (maybe I can’t speak English) but that is such a stupid thing to tell someone! And arghhh that reminds me – when I was doing work experience at my old primary school, the children were doing this different cultures week thing and the class I was with was learning Tamil and the teacher asked me to translate. I was like I don’t speak Tamil mate. But I couldn’t be rude or get into it cause they were my old teachers from when I was five.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Shay says:

        I’ve had that too! 😂 And it’s funny cause the actual language I understand, creole, no one thinks I do cause it’s not common and so I can always listen to people gossiping in creole on the bus and at work, etc. Creole is basically broken French.

        Like

      • Jade rainbow says:

        Oh my God. You basically speak French. What do you identify yourself? Brown or black? I’m sorry if that’s offensive. I’m only saying that because you said you were from and small island off of The coast of Madagascar. Which is technically in Africa.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Shay says:

        I identify as brown, it’s not offensive don’t worry. But it’s very complicated and confusing even for me 😂 And I wish I basically spoke French. I got a C overall at school for it even though my mum speaks it fluently 😬

        Like

      • Shay says:

        Mauritius has a variety of different types of people so a lot of people make misconceptions about the country like the one you mentioned. And yeah!! 😂

        Like

      • Shay says:

        I went about two years ago with my parents for two weeks. But before that, the last time I went was AGES ago!! Maybe like nine years ago!

        Like

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