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I think my eyes are lazy. They are often kinda shocked by pictures on screen.

Have you ever been watching a TV show or movie and found yourself surprised at seeing someone larger than a size 2 as a lead? Your surprise (I hope) wasn’t colored by some sizeist ridiculousness but a genuine reaction to how many times extremely thin or fit bodies are presented as normal.

Seeing how much body ideals have changed for men and women (mainly white men and women) just from a casual look at cinema is pretty amazing. What was called manly and handsome forty years ago would be equivalent to “dad bods” today.

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Years ago, I read a post on Gradient Lair about the preponderance of light woman-dark man black couples. The colorism inherent in this constant choice of couples was evident to me before this article, but it was great seeing someone intelligently outline this phenomenon out.

Sometimes it’s easy to think you’re the only one who notices something. Or that you are crazy for noticing.

Maybe that is the secondary job of writers: to convince themselves and readers that someone else notices what you do.

I wonder if this whole focus on dark men and light-skinned women is really a nod to the blonde woman-brunette men archetype, an idea that itself is steeped in reductive ideas of light as feminine and darkness as everything masculine.

Or maybe people really don’t like blonde men. It’s not to say that these pairings don’t happen (haven’t forgot about you Ariel and Eric, Ryan Gosling, or Jason’s Lyric). But, they don’t occur very often.

I’m not sure, but I do know that whenever I see a dark-skinned woman paired with a light-skinned dude on-screen, I’m surprised. Still. And it makes me wonder what other things we are all so used to seeing again and again, the things we forget to question. Like my friend who was aghast when Zac Efron fell for Nikki Glaser in Hairspray.

“That would never happen in real life,” she said.

Of course, this is a lie, but it speaks so loudly to what our expectations are. Why we cannot tell black stories without including brutality. Why we seem unable to imagine queer romances that are sweet and whimsical.

Our eyes are lazy.

What I want to know is, which came first, the pre-conceived notions of what was supposed to be or some supposed “evolutionary” based attraction?

I’m thinking it has more to do what our eyes have been trained to see than we think. I want to be a creator in a world who imagines differently.

Onward,

Hannah

 

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