Editor's note: The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
Black women are rejected more often than women of other races, according to data collected from the dating site OkCupid in 2014.
“On these sites, (with) black users especially, there's a bias against them. Every kind of way you can measure their success on a site--how people rate them, how often they reply to their messages, how many messages they get--that's all reduced,” said OkCupid’s Co-Founder Christian Rudder in a 2018 National Public Radio (NPR) interview.
Why is it that black women seem to be the least desirable group on dating sites?
A lot of it is the predisposition in society that indicates Eurocentric beauty standards--pale skin, blue eyes and blonde hair--to be supreme, making other features inherently inferior.
This made me recall a time where my own features and attractiveness were called into question back in middle school when one of my friends told me I was “pretty for a black girl.”
At the time, I thought of it as a compliment.
However, looking deeper into what this “compliment” means, it’s clear this phrase is actually insulting.
It caused self-destructive thoughts to grow within the mind of my younger-self that not only distorted my opinion of myself, but also changed how I thought others perceived me.
In a world where black women are double minorities and already face plenty of discrimination and prejudice due to their skin color, it’s important that future generations of black girls don’t feel the crippling effects of comparison so early on in their childhood and adolescent years before having to face that same type of discrimination in the real world.
This is also why compliments like “you’re pretty for a black girl” can be damaging to a young black girl’s self-esteem.
Though it may seem like a compliment from the outside, what many people don’t realize is this phrase implies that skin color is directly correlated to beauty.
It also implies if your skin is darker, then you are naturally not as attractive as those with lighter skin complexions.
This backhanded compliment often falls under the category of a microaggression, which psychologist Derald W. Sue defines as “the everyday slights, indignities, put-downs and insults that people of color, women, LGBT populations or those who are marginalized experiences in their day-to-day interactions with people."
“You’re pretty for a black girl” teaches young black women that if they are black, then they are inherently incapable of being attractive; if they are, it’s rare and something to be applauded.
It also negatively suggests you will never be equivalent to the attractiveness of your non-black counterparts.
Testimonials from The Guardian, Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post show it is almost an inevitable “compliment” that comes along with being a black woman in America, surrounded by European standards of beauty in media and society.
Moving forward, the phrase “you’re pretty for a black girl” should not be looked at or used as a compliment since it promotes the idea that one race is inferior to the other.
No one is pretty despite their race, nor should they be made to feel like their race plays a negative part in their attractiveness.
It’s time we remove “for a black girl” and with that, remove the stigma that black girls can only be attractive in respect to those of other races.