Am I pretty enough? 

“He was their white Prince Charming and I think [his fans] considered that he should definitely be with somebody white and blonde and not me.” 

This was said by FKA Twigs in an interview on Grounded with Louis Theroux before she recalled her frequent comparison to a monkey. The British singer, songwriter, and dancer stated this regarding her relationship with Robert Pattinson.  

Many women can relate to the feeling of being a stop along the way, rather than the destination in their relationships with men. Men see women as Madonnas or whores. Yet, when you consider this statement through the lens of a WOC, it changes everything, because it echoes the complex reality that WOC often face when in interracial relationships. Feminism tends to focus on the collective experience of women, which mainly consists of the voices of the white, heterosexual, and upper-class women, but ignores the complexities of all women and the intersectionality of race and gender. Furthermore, white feminism fails to address the inherent differences between women, which in turn ignores the battle of racism and suffering that WOC endure. Ultimately, white feminism suggests that racism isn’t a feminist issue, which serves to omit the voices of WOC. Intersectionality is key in allowing the overlap between different social identities and oppressions to become understood. For me, it collates my identity as a woman and a person of colour, and not just as one or the other. This intersectional lens is key in interracial relationships, as it allows a better understanding of the complexities and nuances of each member.

WOC often struggle with the feeling of never being pretty enough for white men. There is this insecurity of not being good enough for a white man to deem you to be on the same level of beauty as a white woman. In her interview, FKA Twigs perfectly demonstrated the relationships that seem to be the norm – Prince Charming and his Cinderella. This causes WOC to not see themselves as attractive enough to date a white man, and if they do date one, they question whether this is a result of romantic exoticism. I think that this boils down to the Eurocentric beauty standards and the lifelong battle of an inferiority complex that is almost subconsciously installed within WOC. This causes WOC to develop insecurities about their appearance, as even if they don’t feel unattractive themselves, it is hard to shake the feeling of not being attractive enough for someone else.  In turn, seeing white women as being attractive enough to date white men pits women against each other in terms of their appearance. Hence, this destroys everything that feminism wants to achieve – a world in which women are not defined by patriarchal and superficial ideologies. 

I think that the idea of being enough is purely a result of our Eurocentric world, in which you view yourself through the eyes of a white person and, therefore, question how they view you as the Other. There exists this difficulty in not seeing yourself from someone else’s perspective, no matter who you are. Yet, for POC, I believe that there is a subconscious conditioning of seeing yourself as different, especially when growing up in semi-white institutions. 

I am unsure as to whether I am projecting this ideal or whether it simply just exists. Yet, this collective experience for many WOC draws me towards the prior. I have many WOC friends who seem to only date men of their same race, due to some sort of unconscious fear of rejection from the white man, who seems to be so highly valued in the dating world. This saddening truth fuels my hope that one day this subconscious control that white men seem to have will be destroyed. 

By Priyanka Shah

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