I think similar thoughts occur regarding tattoos

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Posted by txilar on May 24, 2002 at 21:47:58:

In reply to: Dark Skin and Black Henna...A reasonable question... posted by Maureen on May 24, 2002 at 19:30:48:

I have a beloved best friend who allowed me to henna his hands. I
expressed a mild concern that the contrast would not be as great on
him as on myself- simply because I'm *SO* pale that even my veins
make a startling contrast on me! It was for him to know what to
expect, however, he knows what henna looks like; having a background
in art also understands the concept of dark on dark, dark on light
and so on. I followed the premises of Catherine's great article on
this same subject and went for bold patterns and made sure that we
kept it on as long as he could stand it. I did the back of his hands,
where the skin is darker. I later asked him how it turned out (I
didn't get to see the stain progression) and he said it was great- he
got quite a bit of commentary on his plane ride home and enough of
same in Chicago.

I didn't know artists were recommending ppd poison out of (assumedly)
aesthetic reasons- that's awful. But like you point out, there is
certainly a cultural comprehension that may (and I chose my words
carefully here, please all who read understand) that MAY not work for
all people in all situations. I am, like many people, very lucky to
have mentally/culturally acclimated to a number of different people
with various cultural views and I feel (and have justification for
this view!) that I can see things both within and outside of my own
culture. This sounds like a sort of marketing at work no doubt.

Bottom line Maureen, let's get the word out! I'll make sure my friend
gets some wicked henna done now that he's here for a while and I'll
post the results ASAP. Catherine has also done extensive work in this
area and proved the point. Let's just keep backing it up with
pictures and proving the point.


My friend also has a tattoo and this whole thread reminded me of a
high school boyfriend who wanted a tattoo but was actually
told, "tattoos don't show up good on black people" and it was meant
as "please go somewhere else." Granted, D. was pretty dark skinned,
but... we don't all want to look like the same colour canvas with the
same colour paint all over us, now do we?

: I keep seeing the same statement made over and over again that
: as fact or opinion that people of color...especially those of
: skin tone choose or prefer "black henna" over natural henna because
: the henna design can't really be seen well otherwise. First I
: the premise that a natural henna design can't be seen or seen well
: dark skin because...well, because observation simply belies that
: notion.
: But getting beyond that, the reason posed for the decision confuses
: me and raises a question. If brown, bittersweet chocolate and
: cinnimon toast hued people from varied parts of Africa from Morocco
: to East and West Africa make the decision to use "black henna" on
: functionality...it is the one that be seen...Why then do people of
: white skin and light skin choose to use "black henna."
: Surely, it is not because people of lighter hue need to use "black
: henna" in order for it to be seen well or at all. There does not
: appear to be any dispute that natural red henna powder can be seen
: very well on white and light skin. So what do white and light
: skinned people use "black henna."
: I have thought always, that it was because the people of lighter
: simply had a choice and chose to use it. Perhaps they do or don't
: know about the dangers, but most know about the choice. Yet many
: light skin and white skin people choose to use "black henna" rather
: than the alternative...pure natural henna.
: It would seem to me that if simply the concern of whether or not
: henna could be seen is a deciding factor for darker people that it
: would also be a deciding factor for lighter skinned people of the
: world. But, that appears not to be so. Lighter skinned people
: to make a choice out of considerations other than pure
: I have to wonder then, if people of color might also recognize
: choices and choose the "black henna" for use rather than pure
: henna for reasons other than function related to visibility.
: they choose as other people do, because there are options and
: alternatives based on their preference. I realize that may seem
: fetched. But I think it is at least worth consideration prior to
: anyone making a statement that appears to at best suggest limited
: mental resources and capacity to recognize viable options in such a
: large and diverse group of people.
: I know a few African American women who got "black henna" designs
: while on vacation because it was suggested to them by the henna
: artist that the black design would show up on their skin while the
: pure natural henna design would not. I gave them designs this fall
: with pure natural henna to disprove that falsehood. They could see
: their designs and loved them. Other people could see their designs
: too. And loved them. One wanted a design up her leg to be seen
: the slit in her gown she was wearing to her sorority affair. The
: other wanted a design just above where her backless dress would hit
: her at the waist. She was going to the same affair. These are
: women who made a bad decision the year prior because of
: misinformation and potentially harmful information. They appear to
: have been blessed and suffered no harmful consequence.
: I am sure that some people will remain fixed in their belief or
: notion that dark skinned people should choose to have only their
: hands and feet done with pure natural henna. Just as I am sure
: there will continue to be some henna artist slinging "black henna"
: will continue to tell people of color that pure natural henna won't
: show up on them and don't waste their money on it...choose
the "black
: destructive stuff instead." This post is not for those people with
: fixed beliefs and behaviors.
: This is for henna artist who may be able to grasp the notion that
: simply because the hues and tones resulting from henna applied to
: people of color of any hue may look different from the stains
: to people not of color...the resulting stains on both groups
: regardless of hue is what henna stains are on that group of
: The judgement behind the eyes of the henna artist may well best
: the client if it remains behind the eyes and does not fall from the
: lips. Simply because the beauty of the stain is not recognized by
: your minds eye does not mean it does not exist in the eyes, heart,
: mind and spirit and culture of the people receiving the design.
: To speak of the culture with which I am most familiar...I say that
: African Americans have a different cultural aesthetic. It is
: reflected in the music...the dance...the art...the humor...the
: dress...the hair styles...in preference of colors...preference of
: foods...on and on and on. Perhaps it is also reflected in
: of what is or is not a beautiful, acceptible, successful and
: desireous combination of colors that are created by henna stains
: their milk tea, milk chocolate, cola, cinnimon spiked, bittersweet
: chocolate, blueberry or jet black melanin blessed skin.
: Perhaps...just because you can not love it and appreciate it...is
: justification to judge it and remove or dissuade people from viable
: safe and fantastic options.
: Free to choose...
: Maureen


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