Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Ethiopian Girl, Ethiopian Girl

by Saba Mozzagizi

The other day my friend was on the tube when she overheard a group of young boys talking about girls, she didn't really pay attention until she heard one of them say very loudly “I don’t care, I don’t care how hot that chick is, I only want an Ethiopian”.

It is true, what is considered beauty in popular culture changes, which means what is considered beautiful in hip hop culture changes. Pop culture is hip hop, but hip hop is not pop culture; meaning everything you hear on the radio has been influenced by hip hop but there are certain aspects of hip hop culture that can still remain outside of pop (ie. models with fake butts). So when you see women with big butts on television becoming the trend, you can bet that in hip hop videos that the women have even bigger behinds, some of which have been artificially enhanced.

These bodies are now artificial so these women who are idolized for their parts can have the same measurements regardless of ethnic background. However rap artists covet these women based on their race rather than their individual looks ie. shouting out Brazilian girls, Spanish girls, Asian girls, Light skinned girls, Dark skinned girls etc.

Lately I have been hearing more and more of this type of coveting language surrounding Ethiopian women, especially since I have moved to London. I have been stopped on the streets by men who are obviously not Ethiopian, that have taken the time to learn a few phrases in Amharic (the most spoken language in Ethiopia) to start a conversation. Why? People are people, the differences within races are greater than those between different races. There are plenty of “unattractive” Ethiopian girls!

I may be a bit sensitive because I am the first person in my family to have been born outside of Ethiopia, in Canada. My mother had lived a life of fear of her government, oppression of her political beliefs (she was a socialist), love and laughter before she had even arrived in Canada at the age of 25. So maybe I am sensitive to the fact that someone who has gone through so much should be only talked about for her outer beauty and for the fact that some teenage boy might have wanted to “have” her or date her daughters, nieces etc. just because she was born in a particular country.

Do not get me wrong, growing up in a city and going to schools with very few black people, hearing rappers consider women of my ethnicity beautiful, made me feel better. It made me feel like maybe, somewhere, people considered girls with my same background attractive. However, there is a difference between appreciating an individual’s beauty and deciding that you will only date one race or ethnicity of people.

Oh, and by the way calling a woman exotic based on her looks is not a compliment, it is racist.

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