Opinion: Study Calling Black Women Unattractive Taken Down

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Shameka Buckner, Latricia London, Shartajeye Wright, Kanadia Walker

This is The Power of Collective Voice

By Shauntara Greene

Shauntara Greene

Why are Black women picked on so much? We are criticized, mocked, called names, and stereotyped, why? We have to defend ourselves on a constant basis and work ten times harder than any other race as a result of our race and gender.  Well, I am so sick and tired of all the labels.

Psychology Today published a study titled, “Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?” written by Satoshi Kanazawa.  A picture of a Caucasian woman with measurements all over her face appears across the computer screen when you first look up the study. The width of her face, nose, jawline, and lips are measured, along with the space between her eyes.  Kanazawa’s study seems to suggest that the above measurements are what determine this woman as attractive.

The study goes on to make ludicrous assertions, claiming to be supported by sound scientific measures.  He claims that his methodology measures the physical attractiveness of its respondents both objectively and subjectively by following a five point factor scale: 1=very unattractive to 5=very attractive.

He adds that the physical attractiveness of each respondent was measured three times over the span of seven years.  Kanazawa concluded out of four races of women, Black, White, Asian, and Native American, Black women were found to be less attractive than the others, and thought it was interesting that Black women had the nerves to possess the highest self-confidence.

To add insult to injury, Kanazawa took every shot possible when discussing his opinions of the findings.

“What accounts for the markedly low average level of physical attractiveness among Black women? [It is not that] Black women are on average much heavier than nonblack women [28.5, Black women and 26.1 nonblack women]. Nor can the race difference in intelligence account for the race difference in physical attractiveness. The only thing I can think of that might potentially explain the lower average level of physical attractiveness among Black women is TESTOSTERONE. Africans have higher levels of testosterone than other races, and testosterone, being a male hormone, affects the physical attractiveness of men and women differently,” said Kanazawa.

In layman’s terms, Black women are not considered uglier than women of other races because we are fat, and stupid, it is because we look like men.  He also explained in his study that since Africans have existed in human evolutionary history for much longer than others, we have more genetic mutations.  An increase in genetic mutations decreases physical attractiveness.

Satoshi Kanawaza has got to be the biggest joke in the world of psychology.  Psychology Today is even more of a joke for publishing this nonsense.  How can science even provide an answer to such a broad and silly question?

Psychologist, teacher, and author, Christopher Ryan said in a blog, “Satoshi Kanawaza is the Rush Limbaugh of evolutionary psychology.”

He continued by claiming that Kanawaza is nothing more than an attention whore (those are my words), who has successfully insulted groups from the Muslims, to women with weight issues, to horny men.

“Essentially I don’t take him seriously at all because he’s clearly motivated by attracting attention than by any enthusiasm for science or truth,” said Ryan.

I couldn’t agree more.  A simple search on the Internet confirmed my suspicions of the man: he is a complete and total quack.  This man is not even taken seriously in his own profession; he should be stripped of his Ph.D.  The errors, gaps, and unanswered questions in this study are endless.

For instance, the popular saying, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” comes to mind when I think of the biggest flaw in Kanazawa’s study.  Attractiveness differs for each individual.  So how can you possibly measure that with precise accuracy as Kanazawa claims? Furthermore, the study expanded over seven years, and that same individual’s perception of attractiveness could have changed.

Daniel R. Hawes, a professor at the University of Minnesota, and contributing writer for Psychology Today, said that he has used Kanazawa study as an example of poor and flawed quantitative methods research.  His blog also serves to teach undergraduates how to distinguish pseudoscientific conjectures from scientifically reasoned arguments in qualitative social sciences.

The most upsetting thing about this study is that it was posted for the entire world to see. It is an open door for more criticism towards Black women.  Black women are constantly labeled, hypersexual, lazy, loud, and angry.  As a Black woman I work hard not to be those things that the world labels us as.  When I saw this study published and I took a weary breath and thought to myself, ‘Here is another thing that I have to fight against.  Here is something else that I have to help my sistas get through.’ It totally disgusts me and I get angry every time I think about it.

Young Black girls internalize the negative stereotypes that surround Black women.  Being a tutor, it is extremely hard to undo the damage that studies like Kanazawa cause for the young girls that I teach.  Where are the positive studies of Black women?  We need to uplift the Black woman because obviously everyone else is busy tearing her down.

There is a positive ending to this story, although the damage is already done.  Many people were and are still outraged by what this study claimed to be fact.  I am proud to say that as a result, the study was removed from Psychology Today, and many contributing writers for the blog chimed in with their frustrations and complaints with Kanazawa’s study.  He is no longer a writer for the blog.  This is the power of collective voice.

Black Voices Display Photo Used in Study


Social Media Correspondents
The Social Media Correspondents use multiple social media platforms to report on pertinent issues. The founding editor is journalist and Texas Southern University Journalism Professor Serbino Sandifer-Walker @sswalker (Twitter). *We are the first team in the nation, with a professional and collegiate news group, to use multiple social media as a reporting tool. We tell stories dynamically using a myriad of social and multimedia platforms. We are especially interested in telling under told stories in underserved communities. We use mobile phones and tablets to capture video, audio, photos and live events in the communities we cover. We live tweet and have a newsfeed on Twitter at #TwitterNewsChat. We're always thinking outside of the box.

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