Jenice Armstrong: Article trips alarm bells

"They attack our womanhood," says Sophia Nelson, author of the new book "Black Woman Redefined."
"They attack our womanhood," says Sophia Nelson, author of the new book "Black Woman Redefined."
Posted: May 18, 2011

"WHY ARE African-American women less physically attractive than other women?"

It's hard to believe, but that offensive headline appeared earlier this week on the Psychology Today website with an article about how black women are less attractive not only because of our heavier body mass index, but also because our testosterone levels supposedly make us look manly. Seriously?

So not only are all black women fat, but we're also sporting mustaches?

And we're all less intelligent, too.

And we don't know it.

Our egos are supposedly too inflated to realize that we're unattractive.

Go on, shake your head. I'm shaking mine - and no, it's not a big, fat head.

Nor do I have sideburns.

Bear with me, readers, because this story gets uglier - and sillier.

After readers complained, the offending headine was changed to: "Why Are African-American Women Rated Less Attractive Than Other Women, but Black Men Are Rated Better Looking Than Other Men?" Psychology Today's inboxes must have kept on filling with complaints, because next the blog post was removed altogether.

But it was too late. The nonsense by an evolutionary psychologist spouting junk science about black women's looks had already started stinking up the blogosphere.

Correction: It reeked like hell.

Remember the name Satoshi Kanazawa, because this guy publishes pseudo-scientific bull like this every so often. In 2006, he claimed that residents in sub-Saharan Africa were in poor health because of their low IQs - discounting the effects of poverty, war and famine. Now Kanazawa has turned his attention on black women's looks, of all things.

That's a touchy subject, given all that African-American women have gone through not only to embrace our own unique features but to be considered beautiful in a country where a white female aesthetic continues to be seen as the ideal.

And although Kanazawa's shoddy findings weren't quite shades of Don Imus all over again, they got black women's hackles up.

"They attack our womanhood. They say we can't get a man. They say we are not feminine. They say we are too strong," complained Sophia Nelson, author of the new book Black Woman Redefined: Dispelling Myths and Discovering Fulfillment in the Age of Michelle Obama (BenBella Books, $24.95). "Now we are scientifically provable to be unattractive. What do you do with that?"

Kanazawa extrapolates from a third-party study known as Add Health, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, to make his outrageous claims, such as that higher testosterone levels account for "the lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women."

He also writes, "It is very interesting to note that, even though black women are objectively less physically attractive than other women, black women [and men] subjectively consider themselves to be far more physically attractive than others."

Kanazawa, who's affiliated with the London School of Economics, also makes other ridiculous statements such as saying that black men are more attractive than other men. I won't waste newsprint repeating more. (Although Psychology Today removed the original blog post, you can still find it online.)

A spokeswoman for the study Kanazawa bastardizes wants no parts of his craziness. Kathleen Mullan Harris told National Public Radio, "The empirical analysis does not account for the characteristics of the interviewers, which influence their observation." (By that, she meant respondents' race, ethnicity and such.)

I emailed Kanazawa yesterday but didn't hear back. Can't say that I blame him. After posting that foolishness, I'd hide, too.

Send email to heyjen@phillynews.com. My blog: www.philly.com/HeyJen.

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