Thoughts on gender and race and beauty standards in Kenya

It is weird feeling how much I am stared at while walking around Nairobi. Though on Saturday around 10 is my favorite time to be out there are hip kids out and I feel like I am stared at less. This being said I have a few observations: one is that on the condom boxes at the store there were only white woman in semi-erotic poses which it seems weird that there are white woman pictured on these being sold in a african country, it is odd that the were all white, no diversity. Also at the store many of the advertisements for beautify stuff were white woman, even with a brand I have only seen in Kenya, then the advertisements for clothes and such were often either white people or more light skinned africans, I don’t know if I ever saw one with a very dark complexion, maybe one. There were also lots of hair relaxers sold. All of this makes me think a lot about beauty standards and about racial relations and power and the pressure on woman to look a certain way and the sorts. None of the condoms packages had men on them and most of the beauty stuff, even skin care were woman pictured and in commercials. I have definitely read about white washing and the preference of european beauty and african woman not feeling as pretty as a white woman but it was interesting and saddening to see clues of it within an african nation. This has me questioning how one can make a change in such as issue.


The Patriarchy Has Me Down

It is my 7th day in Kenya and today I am upset. I am once again surrounded by men, I feel like I am always either around small children or men.

We began our school visit by having a little meeting and one of the fellows I was with went on a long aside during a meeting about what he looks for in students he would sponsor. He talked about how he wants someone with big dreams that have already taken steps to achieving their dreams and have done all they can. Yet when he was talking instead of using the words like them or student he specifically said man every time and then said he “hopes I find one like that someday too”. In the moment I chuckled and I am mad at myself for that. I wish I had the words to say what I believe. After that we toured the school some and then had lunch. At lunch the head master made a comment on how Paul should not be helping with cooking lunch, and that it gives woman pride and joy to cook and take care of men. You cannot make statements like that. I do not want to deny that it does give some woman joy and may give them joy from time to time, but maybe not all the time. There should not be a cookie cutter mold for what a woman should do and be and feel. I have been hanging out with so many men I just need some woman. Most of the time we do not spend much time with the woman because they are cooking and cleaning and the men are the ones showing the visitors around.

In time I will be successful, bold, powerful, help girls dream big, help men be feminist to not conform to traditional masculinity. That men feel like they can be emotional that they value family and marriage, that they can follow what they want no matter what and for girls to be able to dream big and to do what they want as well. In the moment I will speak my mine more.