Thoughts on Race by Richard Bleil
She was my colleague, a co-worker from a summer job I had in 1986. I would say we were friends, but while I was just trying to make some spending scratch for the upcoming year in college, she was a full time working mom.
One day, she struck up a conversation with me, saying “I just don’t understand how people can say that we all look the same.” Clearly, somebody had said something upsetting to her.
As I write this, I think I should mention that I am an old white man. Yes, I’m part of the demographic that has been on top for, what? Ever? And that has been at the root (in an effort to stay on top) of so much unrest and unfairness. I will endeavor in this piece to avoid offending anybody, but if I do, I apologize in advance. It certainly is not my intention.
I think it’s sad when people don’t, or more likely won’t, see the differences in people. My friend was beautiful. She had dark, curly hair, beautiful skin tone, and freckles on her cheeks. How could anybody not just loved her beauty? Apparently, somebody did not.
I love the variations in people. I especially love the people who embrace who they are, and celebrate what makes them different. A new Netflix movie, “Tall Girl”, focuses on the bias against a middle school girl who is rather exceptionally tall for her age, and the troubles this causes her. The star of the movie (which I recommend; it’s definitely worth watching) is Ava Michelle, a charming and lovely young woman who, as it turns out, had problems with her height throughout her life. She aspired to be a dancer, but because of her height was often, and rather cruelly, cut from dance groups. So, she made a movie that centers on a young student who is deemed to be, well, you get it. I adore Ava, because she has embraced her height, and is using it to send out a message about inequality, this time based on height.
I love these differences. In India (and surrounding regions), they wear such beautiful clothing, loose fitting, silky, and very colorful. The “Sari” is just a gorgeous dress, and I’ve seen it on white women, and while they are always elegant and beautiful dresses, I’ll be honest with you, I just love them on women from the region of India. With their beautiful olive skin tones, the bright colors of the Sari just really make them “pop”.
I remember an advertisement for Hawaii from many years ago, with flashing photos flying by with a narrator talking about why you want to visit. Hawaii has beautiful white sand beaches, but is also home to a gorgeous black beach, I assume the result of volcanic ash. In these photos, one was a white beach with a gorgeous dark skinned model. A few photos later, there was an image of the black beach with a white model. It was stunning.
People who don’t see the variations of others are, in my humble opinion, to be pitied. The variations in people are reflective of God’s graceful nature. The beauty in the differences is one of the greatest pleasures in the world, a true reflection of the art in all of us.
In 1953, Marilyn Monroe was in a movie called “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”. I suspect (but have no proof) that this movie had a significant impact on the hair dye industry, inspiring many young women to dye their hair to become platinum blonde, like Marilyn. This blonde craze continues, no doubt, today, although perhaps not quite the stark platinum blonde of Marilyn. I think most people would agree that Marilyn Monroe was a strikingly sexy woman, and I certainly wouldn’t deny that, but have you ever really taken a look at her photos? She was not the traditional thin model that we think of as sexy in our society. She was quite curvy, but she knew how to work with it. She embraced her figure, and was not afraid to show it, or use it to her advantage. (As a side note, and why not? If men are stupid enough to do things for women because of their figure and looks, then maybe they deserve to be taken advantage of.) But, have you ever seen Marilyn as a brunette? With dark hair, she was even more striking. The natural color of her eyes and skin tone was really truly framed with her natural dark hair. She was sexy as a blonde, to be sure, but it’s sad that our society is such that so many women go to blonde because that’s what seems to get the most notice.
I don’t know what my point is. After three hundred blogs, are there even points left to be made? But I do believe this; be happy with you. When others insult you for your skin, your hair, your height, your accent, whatever it might be, it doesn’t matter.
YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.