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Monday, May 23, 2011

Kanazawa's Ugly Lies about Beauty

This week, shameless slander was published in the name of science. It's not the first time someone has tried to make claims that their racial biases are founded in scientific data, but Kanazawa's claims that somehow black women are inherently less beautiful is preposterous.

Let us first take a moment to appreciate how cruel and insensitive his thesis is. Dang. Simply disgusting. How must if feel to read a headline declaring that you are inherently uglier than most women in the country? And one what grounds? How does one define attractiveness? By matching the latest fashion magazine covers (see image right)?  Based on whose opinion? The "average american" (read: white folks) taking a poorly-worded survey?

Scientists often declare themselves to be objective and unbiased, a false claim that is incredibly dangerous. Scientists are subject to the same prejudices, personal ambition, and fallibility that everyone else is. Here, Kanazawa, simply removes the curtain and allows those biases take center stage.

Kanazawa makes no mention of the obvious social constructs that affect how we perceive beauty in this country. Zero acknowledgement of the ads, the tv shows, the movies that constantly glorify the white aesthetic. Not a word about the objectification and marginalization that black women have historically faced. We all struggle with body-image issues, but imagine trying to maintain your self esteem while living in a world that actively under-appreciates and diminishes your beauty and self-worth. A world full of double-standards that makes a habit of publishing junk like this. So yes, it merits some anger.

Kanazawa does his best to make it look like he is legit. He includes graphs and figures, with nice tight error Mikhail Lyubansky's rebuttal on the same Pscyhology Today website for some examination of the facts. Also check out Racialicious's guide to debunking scientific racism.
Google Search: Beauty
barrs. He begins with a breif description of methods that might sound well structured to the general public. But it is all little more than statsitical hand waving in a non-peer reviewed pop blog. Take a look at

The sad thing is, we can discredit his science and his methods, but the statements that have been made are still being propagated. Popular media has run the story, and even if they add qualifications and refutations, the underlying distilled headline still sticks with the public. The repeated effects of studies like this are what fuel the flames of modern racism.
Fashion magazine covers

Many other blogs have discussed and analyzed the Kanazawa issue (see links above). But, here, us reflect on what our responsiblty is, as Christians, in this moment. As Christians, we are presented with opportunity to embrace one another in Christs love, and then stand united again injustice for the sake of truth. What role do we, should we, can we play when issues like these come up?

First of all, speak up. Let us use our influence and numbers to insist that this sort of defamation is not ok and we will not stand by as our sisters are attacked. Be mindful of what it would feel like to have such a study published about you, and do not diminish what you sisters may be feeling. Second, let us be ever supportive and encouraging of one another. Remind each other of our beauty, strength and intelligence; that we are all beloved and highly favored.

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."
-Psalm 139:14

1 comment:

  1. Padiowei NemizighaJune 17, 2011 at 2:41 PM

    I as a black man have forever felt Asian women, Japanese women included, have so much flatness or too much dryness of chest and behind. Their lineal structure predicates a mockery of feminine sensuality and sexual attraction. Mr. Kanazawa falls into the dubious hollow of those whose sense of pride and acceptance by and of the megalomaniac racists
    is done by stepping on the already brutalized and oppressed - yes, he needs so much edification and motorcade ovation from european-americans by stepping on black peopl. I can go on forever to talk about black skin, lips, hair, etc., that has no compare. The beauty embeded in the black female is the universal excellence to which all females aspire to be - tanning, surgical behinds, full lips, and so on.

    ReplyDelete

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