According to Wikipedia, the mammy is identified as a woman “portrayed within a narrative framework or other imagery as a domestic servant of African descent, generally good-natured, often overweight, very dark skinned, middle aged, and loud. The mammy was usually depicted in a negative manner and portrayed as lacking all of the sensual and sexual qualities that an attractive woman would have.”
The mammy image has been used repeatedly on this blog and it infers that all other races (specifically women) see black women only as that stereotype. Now, unless everyone in the world has been watching only the old American movies and there are no attractive black women anywhere else in the world, then there is no way that ‘they’ can only have the mammy image of black women. The fact is that Hollywood is stereotype central and excruciatingly slow to change. If there is a black, Asian, Hispanic, Indian etc character in a movie, then more often than not they have a particular niche to fill. For black actresses, there are very few roles; however, in the last 10 years or so, beautiful black women have made their mark in blockbuster movies which are seen world wide. Jada Pinket Smith-The Matrix, Zoe Saldana-Avatar, Lethal Weapon franchise-Danny Glover’s wife and daughter, Coming To America, The X-Men franchise, Bad Boys franchise etc. Come to think of it, I am struggling to come up with at least 6 names of famous black actresses who fit the fat mammy stereotype. The Olympics which is viewed worldwide have some downright fit and good looking black women. Even those despicable rap videos and thug movies only show ‘hot’ women. So, why is this mammy saying so prevalent and why are some black women assuming that the entire world view them that way?
I realize people complain of black women always playing those subservient characters but in how many movies in recent years compared to the not too distant past? The ladies of The Help (I did not see it) won awards including one academy award for playing a stereotype just like Hattie McDaniel, the mammy from Gone with the Wind. McDaniel was the first black woman to win an Oscar for her supporting role. They did not win because they were fat and black but because they did a damn good job as black women actors. Black women might bitch and moan about winning awards for a certain role but think about the accomplishment for black women to be recognized as being good at their jobs as actors. It is events like those that have afforded black women to be able to showcase their skills and play any lead roles today. Yes, I get that things should be more equal today but they are not and every little accomplishment helps. Hell! You can count on one hand how many other minorities (Asian, Hispanics, or Indians) have won or were nominated for academy awards. Progress but slow.
People who believe that all black women are fat, ignorant, and loud are just plain stupid. I mean unintelligent kind of stupid. There are so many Hollywood actresses (as well as in the music business) who are in great shape, well mannered and beautiful. So to constantly assume that every non black person who owns a television is surprised to see such a “rarity” is in and of itself very silly – just like every other racist and stereotypical opinions.
According to the CDC, it is within recent years 2009-2010 that the obesity stats have climbed to staggering new heights for American black women, “Among women, 58.5% of non-Hispanic blacks, 41.4% of Hispanics, and 32.2% of non-Hispanic whites were obese.” The other 41.5% are apparently doing well and in previous years the numbers were lower. So, the idea that all black women were mammy wanna-bes is stretching it beyond nonsensical. Side note: Those stats are concerning. I think the images that are broadcast to the outside world are not mammies but black American women as loud (hello Housewives of Atlanta and those ridiculous reality shows), highly sexualized (opposite of mammy) and immoral because of those blasted rap videos and thug movies.
It is easy to fight one stereotype with another. It is easy to use the words all and every when trying to defend one’s dignity against the ‘others.’ In an effort to uplift fellow black women, there is a trend to put others down. If all other women are jealous of the sexy black woman just because she is black and sexy, then does that mean black women are finally a force to be recon with? Oh heavens! Do you not get that black women have always had sex appeal (as slaves, as housekeepers, babysitters, maids, freedom fighters etc.) even though most people do not openly say so.
Back in the day, these women worked in homes where men were present. If the black woman had a reputation of being uncouth and sexless, then they are supposed to be no threat to the men folk. History shows that things did not quite turn out as
planned. The ‘mammy’ image of black women was used as propaganda and it worked on the black woman’s psyche for a long time but it did not diminish the fact
that it was not true. Take a look at other photos of black women of that era.
Yep! Not very mammyesque are they? So, quit perpetuating stupidity! Quit projecting!
Obviously, women don’t know women. I have found that when it comes to men and self-importance, women will be jealous of a cute dog and they will show their claws if it will help them keep their territory. A woman will always defend her territory from another beautiful woman whom she perceives as a threat. Do not take it personally when a woman of your own race or another brings out the claws because that means you have found your sexy and she has noticed. It really has little or nothing to do
with her being surprised that you are not a mammy.