This beautifully illustrated book of black icons that have dazzled us throughout history, carefully examines how African Americans gradually conformed their ideas of black beauty to the standards set forth by the early European settlers. The question that the author, Ben Argogundade poses is “What is black beauty?” (8) His book was written as a guide that presents a better understanding concerning the history of black aesthetics altogether. Argogundade boldly examines the controversies that people of color experience regarding aspects of light skin being viewed as better than darker skin and Afro hair being viewed as “bad hair”.
Ben Argundade parents were Nigerian and he started as an architect working in London on different building projects. Later he became a model and freelance writer while launching an international magazine dedicated to people who lead real lives. Ben argues that “In literary terms black beauty remains a cause without a portfolio” (8). His work pays homage to all the African American models and famous black celebrities that came before him.
Black Beauty discusses some of Europe’s history and the influence Europe had over the western hemisphere during slavery. The focus is on the aesthetic experience of African descent, all who voluntarily migrated to live within the black diasporas of the west and United States, while others drifted through the cruelty of slavery.
Interestingly, the author observes how mixed children of African descent were not uncommon in royal European families. According to the author’s research this has been going on in their culture for centuries. Queen Charlotte Sophia, (1744-1818), was described throughout history as being an unattractive mulatto wit...
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...our “free choice” is actually molded by the standards that earlier generations have set before us. With the way Ben carefully lays out and traces this historical information and even compares how societies like Asians, and Hispanics suffer from the same color caste system, you can’t help but to become aware of how our perception of beauty has been subliminally molded by the Hollywood madness.
This book should be recommended not only to people of color, but to anyone that studies in the beauty, fashion, or history industry. Reading Black Beauty presents a better understanding of how people of color should view themselves by looking at our history. A history and celebration was definitely presented throughout these artistically glistening pages so the name is defiantly deserving of the title because reading this turns into a wonderful celebration for all!
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