Beauty is a subjective thing. There are so many factors that play into beauty such as culture, country, and the time we live in. Beauty standards are always evolving due to new trends and evolution. Because of the constant change, I thought it would be fitting to talk about today’s unrealistic toxic beauty standards from my perspective because the way I see it, coming from someone who is a woman of color, I can 100% say that black women are not the standard and never have been. It has and will always be skinny white women.
What is today’s beauty standard?
Having a slim face, defined features (cheekbones, nose, chin, etc.), big lips, glass skin, no wrinkles, no stretch marks, an hourglass body, a flat stomach, no cellulite… Shall I go on?
Society always tells us to be ourselves and embrace our beauty but it can be difficult when society tells you “do this…but not like that.” It’s disguised as self-care a lot of the time and it’s almost as if we don’t take care of ourselves already.
The harmful effects of beauty
Time and time again we see celebrities on Instagram pushing their weight loss supplements, diet, and exercise routine. Models especially have unrealistic eating goals and have to work out multiple times a day. The desire for an hourglass body dates far back in history to the Marilyn Monroe and Barbie doll era. Their impact was significant seeing as it was that European beauty standard: blonde hair, blue eyes, and skinny. But with Barbie, because she was a doll, her body was unrealistically disproportionate to what may be today the reason behind why it is affecting young girls the way it is.
With globalization and media, Eurocentric and Caucasian features dominate the world leaving people of color pressured to subject themselves to the said beauty standard.
Even those who are considered to be the world’s most beautiful celebrities such as the Kardashians have been known to Photoshop and alter their appearance with the use of filters and photoshop. Interestingly enough, the standard they’ve created doesn’t seem to be good enough for them as well.
For centuries, people of color were told to whiten their skin or use whitening products because their dark tone wasn’t desirable. Especially for Asian women, they often get told directly by family to not play in the sun because it makes them too dark. This also leads to African-American hair care such as wigs and straightening. Ironically, the modern-day beauty standard, in my opinion, is now shifting to the natural features of black women. I said what I said.
The media and beauty industry bombards young girls and women with the western ideology only further proving how objectified and sexualized we become at such a young age. We are told to shave our bodies, and cater the way our body looks to men… How is that right? We’re pressured to wear make-up but make it look natural. Brands such as Brandymelville are “one size fits all” which realistically, CMON. The brand is run by two older Italian men, which kind of makes it creepy considering their biggest size is a size two. Basically, their target audience is skinny white girls but what about people who want to shop for this brand? The whole one-size-fits-all ideology is only encouraging internalized fat phobia and shame towards our self and maybe even others. It’s telling younger girls that because they aren’t skinny, they’re not cool enough or that their body isn’t good enough for that particular clothing.
The only way to “reverse” this change is to teach young women about mental health resources, and loving their bodies for who they are. It’s difficult in the society we live in because everything is so technologically advanced and easily mimicked but these resources are crucial. There’s been a significant rise in eating disorders, depression, mental distress, and overall self-esteem issues due to social media and its influence. Always remember to love yourself even though the world has taught you to hate it.