Under the Hood

Are Biracial People Better-Looking? New Research On Beauty And Race

The number of interracial marriages are at an all-time high, and the biracial demographic continues to grow. However, our admiration for the “exotic” looks of multicultural people may have consequences. According to a recent study, black people who simply say they’re multiracial are considered better-looking by others, regardless of how they actually look.

For the study, 3,200 self-identified black people were interviewed by people of all different races as part of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. The interviewees were asked a series of questions about their racial background. Afterwards, the interviewers then rated the black interviewees on their attractiveness based on a scale of one to five. Results revealed that individuals who said they were multiracial got higher scores of attractiveness, suggesting that just the idea that an African-American person is of mixed-race heritage makes that person more attractive to others.

Mixed race Black people perceived as being of mixed race are automatically considered more attractive: study. Photo Courtesy of Pexels

“Being exotic is a compelling idea,” explained study author Robert L. Reece in a recent statement. “So people are attracted to a certain type of difference. It’s also partially just racism – the notion that black people are less attractive, so being partially not-black makes you more attractive.”

What’s most interesting however is that being “multiracial,” regardless of how you actually looked seemed to supercede the colorism, or favoritism toward those of lighter skin tones, that has been documented in black communities. For example, blacks with darker skin who identified as mixed-race were considered better looking than those with lighter skin who identified simply as black. According to Reece, this is because being told a person is of mixed race — regardless of what that person looks like — is what makes them appear more attractive.

Reece plans to use this information to further explore how race mixing is interpreted among black Americans. Recent research has shown that because of sexual coercion during black slavery in America from the 1620s to 1865, the average Black American also has European DNA. For example, the study revealed that 21 percent of the genome of the average black American living in the Southwest had European ancestry, while for a black American in the South, about 14 percent of the genome could be traced back to Europe. Reece notes that today in black communities the terms “light skinned” and “mixed” are often used interchangeably, something that could affect many aspects of an individual's life.

“Race is more than we think it is,” Reece told the Duke Research Blog. “It’s more than physical characteristics and ancestry and social class. The idea that you’re a certain race shapes how people view you.”

Source: Reece RL. What are You Mixed with: the Effect of Multiracial Identification on Perceived Attractiveness. Review of Black Political Economy. 2016

Read More:

Mixed-Race People Experience Racism, But It Depends On Where They Live: Read Here

Black And White In America: Study Reveals Many Americans Have Mixed Race Background They Were Unaware Of: Read Here

 

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