African beauty comes in all kinds of forms. As others portray it according to skin color, some see it in form of body size and shape. For instance, some may say “Black is beauty” this shows people who take a darker skin complexion to be beautiful. Others simply prefer a lighter skin complexion. While others take some skinny and thin to be beautiful and yet another will prefer one who is chubby and fat.
Also when it comes to African beauty, it is assumed that ‘everyone is beautiful in their own way’. It is important to note that a number of people do not think of beauty to be color, size or shape but think everyone is beautiful.
This has led to common sayings like ‘beauty is in the eyes of the beholder’ and ‘beauty is skin deep’.
Modern African Beauty Trends
However, with today’s societal change, beauty changes with trends and the time. For instance, something may be beautiful this season and the next it is not. For example, at some point, people opted for skin bleaching as it was trending as beauty but now it is now on the decline. Some also opted for body enlargement like the hips and breasts.
For many years, African beauty has a been stereo typically portrayed as of a dark complexion especially in women. How ever the influence of western culture which portrayed a lighter skin as beautiful, skin bleaching took over, this trend is gradually changing as black people have become more conscience to their dark skin and accepted it as beautiful.
Cultural symbols of African beauty,
- Big is beautiful; African culture believes that a fat woman is beautiful. For instance, some cultures still use the ‘fattening room’ for the bride to gain some weight because the bigger and healthier she is the better. This is common with the Bahima from western Uganda. The women are fed with Ghee at some point before a wedding ceremony. Aunties are in charge of the bride as attendants.
- Body painting; This is another form of African beauty whereby it is an adornment to the body. It is practiced in some regions of Africa. For example, people in Nigeria still use body painting. The Nubians from Sudan have practiced this culture for centuries using the henna paintings for temporary body art (staining) based on those dyes. Henna has been used since antiquity to dye skin, hair and fingernails, as well as fabrics including silk, wool and leather. Historically, henna was used in the Horn of Africa.
- Body piercings; This is a common form of cultural beauty practiced in Africa. For example people from Karamojong in Uganda have various body piercings to portray beauty. The Dinka and Neur in South Sudan also practice this culture.
When it comes to beauty in Africa, there are different ways one may be seen as beautiful and this has encouraged the growth of different cultures.