The Talley Dunn Gallery just presented a solo exhibition of renowned and nationally recognized artist Vicki Meek. The artist’s inaugural exhibition at the gallery, At What Point Do We Disappear? Black Women’s Obsession with White Femininity, will be on view April 23rd – July 2nd. Talley Dunn Gallery launched this exhibit with an open house and artist reception April 23rd.
Skin bleaching, hair straightening, eye and body altering all have provided tangible examples of the erasure of Blackness from our concept of beauty. Not surprisingly, 400+ years of cultural indoctrination has taken its toll on concepts of beauty in the Black community. The proximity to whiteness has become the gold standard in determining beauty, so Black women have been chasing that standard in a myriad of ways for generations. Enslavement and colonization produced a culture of self-hate that often manifests in ways sometimes not even perceptible by the Black community.
I am exploring in At What Point Do We Disappear: Black Women’s Obsession with White Femininity how deeply ingrained this self-hate is, not only here in America, but also in Africa where women sport long, straight haired wigs and bleach their skin in attempts to “lighten up” their complexion so that they can be more appealing to African men. This fascination with whiteness extends beyond simply skin color and hair texture. It manifests in obsessions with light colored eyes, thin bodies, as well as altered noses and lips.
I liken the inculcation of white femininity in the Black female psyche to the diminution of our souls. We erase aspects of ourselves in the process of creating a beauty aesthetic that has so many roots in white femininity. At what point do we simply disappear?