Sam Kasse
November 22, 2013 8:00 am

Black women come in a variety and with a presence that is unmatched. Yet in all our splendor there are a few specific race challenges, known as black girl problems.

First off there is the hair. Maintaining it is time consuming and should be considered a second career. Thinking about getting some braids done? How about a weave, or maybe just a relaxer? Time to clear that schedule since all of them are time consuming and will require a significant amount of the day to be spent at the hair salon.  Then there the little upkeep habits. From the arm workouts greasing a scalp gives to gritting teeth against the burn of a relaxer, to the head pats in an attempt to ease scalp itch.

The color nude. Somehow it has been redefined to mean some cream colored shade. When something is advertised as nude, it is a nude that fits a Caucasian skin-tone, when in reality nude comes in various colors. A black woman’s skin can range from very light brown to very dark brown therefore having numerous shades of nude, none of which resemble what is considered to be the accepted standard.

Interracial relationships are a common occurrence, and yet black women in this day and age are still having to deal with being labeled as some sort of sell out for dating outside their race. Meanwhile their male counterparts are not faced with the same sort of criticisms, scrutiny and judgment.

As a black woman, any moment of anger or frustration expressed can quickly get turned into the ‘angry black woman’ stereotype. Similarly a spirited outburst is seen as a ‘sassy black girl’ moment that will often lead to someone interjecting with a ‘black phrase’ such as ‘you go girl!’ in an attempt to show solidarity.

Having to explain what a headscarf is. The film and television industry are partly to blame for this. Rarely do they accurately portray what a black woman looks like right before she is ready to go to bed. This in turn has resulted in many a black woman having to explain to friends, boyfriends/girlfriends, and non black relatives why it is exactly that we wear ‘that thing’ on her head to sleep.

Ashy skin is an issue that faces all races. However, black ashy is in it’s own special category. Being so dry that it is possible to scratch initials into an arm and have them show up clear as chalk on a chalkboard.  What makes brown dry skin so unsightly is that it is usually a few shades lighter than our regular skin-tone therefore more noticeable. This is the reason most black girls consider some sort of lotion or hand cream and essential item to be carried with them at all times.

While more and more brands are producing makeup with a wider color range, the struggle to find that perfectly matching shade of foundation is still out there. Most black girls have to mix and match to get their perfect foundation. Then there is always that frustrating moment when a brand released a new foundation line and there are several color shades from very pale to tan, but brown only comes in two shades; light and dark.

Black women tend to be pigeon holed into one category. There is a constant ‘this vs. that’ mentality. Dark skin vs. light skin, natural hair vs. relaxed, bourgeois vs. ratchetty. The harm in dividing and creating these subcategories within a particular race is that it leads to stereotyping.

The lack of an emoji representation is simultaneously perplexing and irksome!

While some of these may come across as frivolous, they are issues that do affect and frustrate black women on a daily basis.

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