President Obama Has Every Right to Call His Girls Beautiful (Response to Alice Robb)

In her article “Strong, Smart, Beautiful?” writer Alice Robb criticized President Obama for calling his daughters beautiful during his re-election victory speech. Robb argues that by calling Sasha and Malia beautiful, he is subconsciously telling them that beauty is an aspiration, like a career.

From Oxionian Globalist:

Obama’s comments beg the question of why a girl’s beauty should be source of pride for her father— and why beauty should be a value lauded alongside strength and intelligence.

The President may have been directing his comments at only two people, but he had the ears of the world, and on a day that should have been a triumph for women, his remarks stung.

There has been a conversation amongst the white  feminist community about the implication of calling little girls beautiful and while I agree that the beauty standards in this country are atrocious, I think this conversation and Robbs’ article misses a very important point. In this society and much of the world, white women are seen as the standard of beauty and Black women are told they are the antithesis of that beauty. We’re told our skin isn’t the right tone, our hair isn’t the right texture and our bodies aren’t the right size and shape. Black women have been conditioned to hate their beauty for centuries. At one point, we weren’t even considered human and it’s arguable that this belief still exist. None of us are immune to it either. First Lady Michelle Obama, the mother of the girls Robbs is supposedly defending, has had her face photoshopped onto the most degrading and dehumanizing images. Black women and their beauty are constantly disrespected. There are plenty of little chocolate girls that don’t have a daddy to tell them they are beautiful. In fact, Black women are often told they aren’t good enough by family members and loved ones that have internalized white supremacist beauty standards. When I went natural, it was a joke to people. There are people that think “you’re pretty for a dark skinned girl” is a compliment.

So, for a white woman to criticize a black father for calling his daughters beautiful is insulting.

THAT stung.

I know mainstream feminists supposedly mean well but sometimes it is best to stay in your lane.

What do you think about Robbs’ article? Leave a comment.

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11 thoughts on “President Obama Has Every Right to Call His Girls Beautiful (Response to Alice Robb)

  1. ajeetakhatiwada says:

    I whole heartedly agree with the point you are making. Both racism as well as sexism are important topics that need to be discussed. Racism coupled with sexism is even more dangerous than these topics alone, so there obviously is not a simple solution to this.

    Having said so, I had also noticed Obama calling his daughters beautiful, and had wondered why those qualities were given enough importance to be put alongside with strength and intelligence. Even though I agree with the points you are making, I believe that the solution shouldn’t be about all women from all different races striving to be called beautiful, rather it should be about giving less importance to the beauty of any woman. At the present context of the world, there is no doubt that women’s physical appearances are given so much importance that their other qualities (or lack of them) are often completely overshadowed by their beauty (or lack of beauty according to the society’s perception).

    It’s not that there are no black/asian/big women that are viewed as beautiful, but the standard is often based on some specific qualities that are often possessed by only few people – usually blond girl with blue eyes and preferably with hourglass (yet slim) figure. I’m sure that you agree with me that black women with lighter skin than the rest, asian women with larger eyes than the rest, big women with hourglass shape etc. are also called beautiful even though they “fail” in possessing all of the “qualities of a beautiful woman”. It’s almost impossible for women of any racial/social/age group to fully satisfy all the criteria that define the beauty of women even though if they partially satisfy them they will still have small chance of being called beautiful. Even the white busty blond girls won’t be called beautiful the same way for the entirety of their lives. This implies that it’s not the criteria for beauty that is the major problem, rather the emphasis that’s given on the beauty of women. As long as we give importance to the beauty of women (be it black women or white women), the only change we can bring in a long term is in the criteria for being called beautiful, but not our worth as human beings. Maybe people will start to see typical black women with curly black hair and voluptuous bodies as ideal of beauty someday, but it only solves one problem while creating plenty of other problems because now other groups may still not fall into that beauty bracket (even not all black women will fall into that bracket for sure).

  2. Hykeem Brown says:

    Honestly I don’t see a point in Alice Robb remarks about President Obama calling his daughters beautiful. It’s better their father is able to tell them this now and even before he took office 2008/2009 so the girls won’t seek “love” in all the wrong places(ex. trying to relate a guy to what there father could not give).

    There are way more bigger issues with beauty in context to all races;including us(black people) that are mislead in media/entertainment in regards to ‘certain’ music video + sports.

  3. rho says:

    Any parent who adores their children like President & Mrs. Obama adore their beautiful, strong and smart daughters would have done the same thing if they were in their shoes. Ms. Robb: Your racism is showing, and why don’t you admit how absolutely beautiful Black women are? White women are no longer the “standard” for beauty, and that’s something that has been a long-running lie anyway, so get over it. Do you need a hug? Didn’t you get very many growing up? Stop HATING. And by the way, I’m a White woman in my 50’s, so I know what I am talking about. Black women: BE BEAUTIFUL, SMART AND STRONG AS GOD MADE YOU! There are a lot of us White women out here who support and love you.

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