WTF? Psychology Today Publishes Article: "Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?"


Sorry, I'm still working to get my jaw off the floor when I saw this article tweeted. It appears the uproar over it caused Psychology Today to pull it down, but there is still a cache version for you to see that it was all too real.

How do you respond to such a grossly heinous attempt to post racism as an objective scientific study?

The whole thing is a pile of crap. Not just because it’s absurdly racist and obnoxious (which it is), but because it’s utterly scientifically incoherent. There’s a lot of stupidity in the piece, and I’ll be linking to some more thorough takedowns later. But for me, one sentence stood out from all the others: “For example, because they have existed much longer in human evolutionary history, Africans have more mutations in their genomes than other races.”

I’ll repeat that: Because they have existed much longer in human evolutionary history, Africans have more mutations in their genomes.

Why is this the stupidest sentence in the whole stupid article? Because — and I can’t believe I even have to type this — all humans are descended from common ancestors. No population of humans has “existed longer” than any other, because we all share the same great-great-great-great-(and so on)-grandparents. One group may have left Africa earlier or later than another, but we’ve all been on the planet the same length of time.

The stoopid, it seriously burns. But writer Zantoshi Kanazawa makes many other bizarre allegations, using the term "objective attractiveness" frequently without explanation of how a subjective characterization could possibly be quantified objectively.

Given that ideas of who and what is beautiful are more cultural than objective, it’s not surprising that in the United States, black women are rated on the low end and white women are rated pretty high. Kanazawa can’t figure out why black women receive lower attractiveness ratings, so he wilds a guess: Testosterone.

Great guess. Totally explains things. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that beauty itself is routinely imaged (at least in the country where this study was conducted) as white, and that the physical preferences of the folks who control most media and advertising outlets tend to reign supreme (hint: Those folks are usually light-skinned dudes). Definitely has nothing to do with the fact that our perceptions of beauty tie closely to perceptions of social class, and white people are on the top of the class game in a country like the United States, where white people legally and physically forced black people first into a slave class and then into a generalized underclass with fewer rights and fewer resources. I’m sure centuries of sustained exploitation and abuse of black people by white people, and sustained efforts on the part of white people to maintain social and economic supremacy at almost any cost, have nothing to do with beauty standards. It’s just, like, hormones. Objectively.

Perhaps at another point in my life, I would laugh this off as the musings of someone too stupid to realize how racist he is. But we live in an environment where the President of the United States is repeatedly forced to produce his birth certificate to prove that he was born in this country and where one of the leading candidates on the Republican side repeatedly characterizes the President's attitude as "Kenyan anti-colonialist" and produces dog whistles like "food stamp president looking to make the entire country like Detroit". This is not an isolated event by an insulated individual. This is a nasty undercurrent that simmers below the surface all the time and that has been bubbling up more and more frequently. And after being tangentially part of some rather heated online discussions about race and privilege recently, I don't know that we can ever truly work towards a more progressive future without acknowledging and dealing with this.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service (revised 3/17/2016) for information on our posting policy.