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What being a black female student has made me realise about other people's perceptions


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Are you a black female about to head off to university? Here's a guide on what to expect.

Black female graduate

From being called out for being "too sassy" when speaking your mind in an assertive but distinctly unconfrontational manner to your hairstyle always being your flatmate's main topic of conversation, here are some of the most bewildering scenarios I encountered at university and how I dealt with them.

You will find that for some narrowminded individuals, skin colour influences attractiveness

In my first year, a male student from a BAME background showed a group of girls various profile pictures of high-profile Instagram models and socialities.

All the girls virtually look the same and I'm still partially convinced they were the same person.

Each resembled Alessandra Ambrosio and Zara McDermott aesthetically merged to create one idealistic female.

The male in question then asks myself and another female student to rate them as if they were the next pair of limited edition trainers released by Off-White or Yeezy.

When we finally managed to give the girl in question a 7, mainly to end the already awkward conversation, we were met with literal outrage and disbelief.

"Just a 7! Nah mate, we're talking 10s across the board here!" 

Finding this amusing, I decided to perform a kind of social experiment to prove a point.

It consisted of me showing a range of pictures of high profile women in popular culture to the male student and asking him to rate them.

Unsurprisingly Bella Hadid was awarded a 9, with Camilla Cabello receiving an 8 and both Priyanka Chopra and Zendaya achieving a lowly 6.

When pushed further and presented with South Sudanese Australian models Duckie Thot and Adut Akech all I got from him was a noise; The kind of noise a toddler makes when they refuse to drink from their bottle.

I asked him what the problem was to which he replied " I just wouldn't go there. They're way too dark!" 

Shouldn't we be over this eurocentric perfectionism in this post-Wakandan age, or am I asking for too much?

How I Dealt With It: I asked him directly if I was ugly and, as of today, I am still waiting for a reply.

Ultimately our skin tone is a reflection of our heritage and our ancestry. 

Yes, it has been negated for centuries in our global history but we are always glowing. 



Your hair will be the talk of your new flat for weeks.

 One evening during the flat's 'family dinner' there was clearly a conversation looming.

Suddenly, someone turned around and said that they had all been discussing my hair.

"Is it a wig? Is it stuck onto your head? Is it your hair? What is it?"

If someone had recorded my face I would have appeared to be the dictionary definition of shock.

I was, however, extremely angry behind the confused facial expression.

How I Dealt With It: I went onto YouTube and played the first 'How To' braid tutorial I could find.

Although some of you reading may think that this was not a problem and at least they asked, I still find this to be a massive issue.

It is not necessarily about the specific question being asked, but more about how it was asked and the context of it being a 'taboo' topic they discussed prior to the conversation.

Your flatmates may try to test you on controversial subject matters. When you decide to comment you will either be silenced or told you're too confrontational. 

A university scandal regarding sexism as well as racism occurs and your flat decides they want to talk about it.

Perfectly fine.

They talk about the immorality of using derogative, racial and sexual slurs which is good support for zero tolerance.

Then you're asked to pitch in because they acknowledge that you have ties as a black woman to racial and sexual oppression.


You start talking about how upset, annoyed and disgusted you are at this behaviour only to be told that "you're being a bit too dramatic" and "you need to calm down".

How I Dealt With It: Kept my mouth quiet before I said something I would regret.  

This first year of university has been a truly eye-opening experience and a culture shock into my own 'British' culture.

I have learnt not to rise to the stupidity that is prevalent among some of today's youth.

Ultimately, being a black girl can at times feel as if you are invisible despite being the most visible person in the room.

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