Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

How Harmful is Social Media’s Depiction of Dark Skinned Black Women?

The days are (somewhat) gone where black women struggle to see ourselves on screen. The popularity of social media has led to an abundance of black women across the globe looking to online platforms (especially Instagram) for the representation mainstream media never gave us. We no longer have to wait for a company’s approval to be seen. However, an increase in accessibility doesn’t always lead to a decrease in discrimination.

Despite the abundance of natural hair and melanin appreciation pages, more often than not, dark-skinned black women aren't celebrated unless they're "perfect". Visiting any of these pages will take you to catalogues of flawless skin, perfectly done (often long) thick hair and prominent hourglass figures. Though modern day campaigns claim to embrace flaws and individuality, these messages are usually paired with images of white and lighter skinned women of colour. They get the luxury of being nuanced, while the “acceptable” dark-skinned black woman is still seen as a monolith. Consequently, those who fall outside the ideal are ridiculed. 

In a previous living situation, I was dancing at home when a flatmate (a fellow black person) started laughing at me. They told me to "stop shaking your non-existent booty". Less than a week prior, they were celebrating, cheering on and recording their curvaceous girlfriend. Duckie Thot faced similar scrutiny after posting a picture of her natural hair. In response, fellow model Winnie Harlow laughed at her, referring to her as “cauliflower head”.