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Naked: Black Women Bare All About Their Skin, Hair, Hips, Lips, and Other Parts Paperback – August 2, 2005

4.4 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"These bodies are for ourselves," says Sonia Sanchez in the introduction to this candid and provocative set of essays, all centered squarely on black women's bodies-and the myths and misogynies located therein. Byrd has written for Vibe and Rolling Stone; Solomon is a former senior editor at the Source and current health editor for Essence. Together, they have gathered black women from a variety of walks of life, from hip hop icon Melyssa Ford and superstar singer Kelis to an AIDS-afflicted feminist activist, and a former prostitute serving twenty-five years for murdering "a john... who became the unintended victim of my rage and depression and self-hatred." In between are notes on "My Tush" ("Butt, ass, bum, booty, rump, onion, junk in the trunk, ba-dunck-ka-dunk, rear, backside"), "Ho Gear," "The Curl," "Femme Invisibility" and a host of other hot button body issues. As empowering as it is demystifying, this book does not avert its gaze for a moment.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Byrd and Solomon contribute to this collection of 25 essays by black women on a range of issues related to the black female body and image. Everything from hair to feet is explored within the context of American standards of beauty and individual journeys to self--acceptance. The contributors, ranging from young to old, from a variety of backgrounds and hues, share their feelings about their bodies: the attitudes and genes they inherited from their mothers, their treatment--ill and good--by the men in their lives, the influences of American culture on self-image, and their own evolving sense of self. The age-old debates about skin color, hair texture, and weight are prominently featured, but the women each have very personal stories to tell about their paths to accepting and loving themselves. Among the contributors are entertainers Kelis and Jill Scott, former video model Melyssa Ford, writer Jill Nelson, and television personality Iyanla Vanzant. Although the collection is culturally specific to black women, all women will appreciate the struggle with beauty ideals and the need for self-acceptance. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Perigee Trade; Perigee Trade Pbk. Ed edition (August 2, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399531637
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399531637
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 7.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,000,928 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Nuncia on August 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
The woman represented here are diverse, yet I saw my own life in almost every story. The issues of "good" vs "bad" hair. The divisive issue of skin color. Growing up with the self-destructive wishing to be someone different because I did not feel valued as I was. These are stories I have heard over and over again, lived over and over again. Most women of color in the US will find something in these pages that rings true. As women we are defined by our appearance early and often. This truth has created a limbo for most of us, as it has for these women. The stories talk about our invisibility, our vulnerability and our quest to love ourselves in spite of the weight of messages that tell us we not as lovable, sensual, and intellectual because we do not have fair skin and long straight hair. This book is a gift because ultimately the feelings expressed here are universal. We all seek to belong, to feel like we are seen and heard. We desire to love and be loved. Some of these women succeeded despite the weight of the message. Some are still struggling. But, I thank them all for sharing because in reading of their struggle, I took the invitation to revisit my own.
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Format: Paperback
I am a black man. Five days ago I received a copy of this book from by cousin. I've only reached half way but I HAD to stop.
There were some passage about how BLACK WOMEN felt hurt and unwanted by verbal abuse of men when they were walking in the streets and I felt bad, because I am one of those guys cussing when a women doesn't give in to my advances. I walk around with friends and I often cuss just as to show off to my friends that "hey that B*** didn't hurt me with her stupid attitude".
The thing I never thought about is how they felt when I cuss them out. Even if my intention was not to add yet another blow to her lowself-esteem. I might sound green by now to some readers but I first off come from the carribean. And there the inferiority complex is not that extreme over there since the majority of the population and business owners are black. But I must add, ormaybe confess I would be more likely to cuss a black women then any other race. And that alone shows that I am part of the problem.
For those who need more convincing argument of the dilemma which Naked exposes, BLACK SKIN WHITE MASK, by Fanon is a support to this book.
But I have to agree with some essay where they says the media, hell society has a fix definition of what beauty is and should look like. Even disney movies like Cinderella, snow white, etc..... brings to our children mind what is expect of their physical appearance to be considered attractive.
I'll try to mustard courage to finish this book AND I'll finsih by saying I am SORRY to all those women I hurt with my foul words. A change is definitely needed '
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Format: Paperback
A good friend recommended this book to me, and even loaned me her copy. Still, I waited nearly two months to pick it up, only to finish it in one weekend! I was absolutely captivated! So many different parts of the different books rang true to me. There are so many loaded, complex issues related to the way that black women see our hair, skin, butts and thighs. Somehow, I thought that I was struggling alone with these issues, but this book showed me that so many of us sufffer through it without feeling that there is ever a safe place to talk about it. Well, these women talk about it. In detail and without an amazing honesty. It spoke to me, and these stories had me thinking about how I negatively I see some of my body parts, and made me realize how important it really is for black women to find a place to talk about these issues and a way heal ourselves.

Interested in black sexual identity and politics? This book is a must read. I especially recommend it to book clubs of black women. The topics in this book will make for great, hopefully healing, conversation.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I was on Amazon looking for information on “Naked: Black Women Bare All about Their Skin, Hair, Hips, Lips, and Other Part”. On the Amazon page that describes the author's book are cover photos half-naked women as illustration for trashy novels – as if the content of her book is the same kind of book. I was very offended. It is offensive for an author like Ayana Byrd to have her book denigrated by surrounding it with cheap sex novels.

The content of her book does not champion the exploitation of women. Ms. Byrd points out how African-American women have been historically and wrongfully objectified as sex objects. Amazon’s thoughtless misrepresentation is offensive to African-American women. I will purchase her books from another seller. Who ever it was at Amazon that categorized this book and displayed it on the same page with this trash should read it. I think that Amazon owes Ms. Byrd an apology.
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Format: Paperback
Naked; excellent, relevant and reassuring! The voices embodied in these pages are representative of how every one of us feels at one time or another. The stories of conflict and resolution provide comfort. We are not alone ... we all struggle with the societal pressures of being a woman ... or being woman enough in a society obsessed with unhealthy, unrealistic ideals. Naked is a refreshing spark that encourages thinking about and discussing these issues, putting aside the Always-Strong-Black-Woman image to really begin analyzing and healing our battle scars. I am thankful that the book's contributors had the courage to put their experiences and fears out in the open for the benefit of us all. This book should be required reading for all women but especially for young women on the brink of full on women-hood and mothers of girls.
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