The Correct Color For Love
I saw that he looked at my profile, so I looked at his. I scanned over his description of himself, what he does for a living, his level of education, whether he has kids or not, what he’s looking for in a woman, and the rest of the formulaic personal essay/questionnaire that makes it easy for some to assume they know enough about a person to decide to either pursue or disregard. Some guys make it easy with their laying-the-law-down style demands, caps lock ridden rants, or woefully neglected profiles with no information or photos at all. This guy seemed OK though. He was pretty far away from where I live, so I considered him a pass since I prefer someone who is at least in-state. I’m not sure if it was the next day or within a few hours, but the next time I checked the app, I had a request from him to start “guided communication”. We seemed to have a few things in common, like an interest in content creation and similar values, so I answered his first round of pre-selected questions. His questions focused on my level of spirituality (he’s devoutly Christian) and I remember a question about things that make me laugh. When it was my turn to send him questions, one of the ones I sent him was “What do you find physically attractive in a woman?”.
At first, I regretted sending that question because I thought that it would make me seem superficial, but I’m always curious as to how men answer that question. I always get a range of answers that don’t fit the stereotypical expectation of what black men are “supposed” to like, so it’s not that I think men will say that they want a model, but since men seem to be more visual and tend to be more disappointed when things don’t appear as they expect, I like to know up front what a guy’s expectations in appearance are. I’ve had guys that I’ve met from dating sites tell me that they were disappointed that my hair was natural in person because my hair was straight in one of the photos on my profile even though everything else about me was the same. In the end, that question saves us both some time.
This guy answered the question with three physical qualities he likes in women, and one of those was light skin. This is from a very dark skinned man who seemed to me to be very well educated and well- rounded otherwise. I was immediately turned off by this revelation, but it didn’t really surprise me. Black women have been saying for years that online dating can be a frustrating and even humiliating experience due to negative stereotypes about our behavior, femininity, and appearance that men of all races seem to believe.
I know that I’m light-skinned, light bright, red boned, LSLH (light skin, long hair), or whatever the new term for light-skinned black women is today, so my online dating experience is more than likely not as harsh as it might be if I were a darker skinned woman. However, I can’t help but to wonder about why some black men click on my profile given the pressure that black men have in this society to prioritize “exotics”, “Spanish women”, biracial women and white women over black women. Are they really interested in me, or do they think that I’m one of those “exotics” that brings them closer to being in proximity to whiteness?
I’ve often felt that for some black men, light-skinned black women are just a temporary stand-in to bide time until they can get the attention of a non-black woman. To test this suspicion, which I was hoping I was wrong about, I did an informal experiment with my profile. I removed most of the pictures of me with straight hair and replaced them with pictures of me with natural hair styles, and I set my main profile picture to be one of me with natural hair. The views on my profile dropped from hundreds to about 5 or 6 a day, not even that.
I’m not trying to make the assertion that all black men have colorist motives behind their preferences in women. There could have been something else that caused that drop in views to my profile, but the outcome of my experiment matched my experiences with some black men in real time. I’ve had a guy at the gym tell me that he’d rather have my number than the numbers of some darker skinned women who were working out near us because “I have more class”, even though he didn’t know any more about me or my level of class than he knew about them. One of my exes threatened repeatedly throughout our relationship to break up with me if I didn’t keep my hair straight.
Black women of all shades deserve to be loved within a healthy relationship, and I’ll never date a man who doesn’t believe that.
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All of these experiences just reinforce to me that there are many men who talk to me and women who look like me not because they really want to get to know who we are as people and what we have to offer as a mate, but because being with us is somehow an escape from their own blackness. In the process of choosing us because of our lightness, they dismiss the inner qualities that we have that are much more important to the health of a relationship than how light we are, how straight or “good” our hair is, or how exotic our features are. As a proud black woman, this is such a turn off to me that I usually end up ghosting guys like this. I know that this is a horrible way to non-communicate, and I’ve tried with some to explain how offensive their approach is, but many times they are too caught up with protecting their right to “preferences” to really listen to another perspective.
There is no correct color for love. Black women of all shades deserve to be loved within a healthy relationship, and I’ll never date a man who doesn’t believe that.
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