The devastating effects the Eurocentric standard of beauty in western culture has on women of color

The Eurocentric standard of beauty is one of the most blatantly oppressive standards, and has far reaching effects that some may not realize. This study mentions that one of the most common stereotypes is that Black women fail to measure up to society’s standard of beauty. This standard of beauty places an impossible goal on all women of color, and has especially affected Black women because of racist history they have experienced surrounding white beauty. Starting during slavery, when lighter skinned female slaves received house duty and darker skinned female slaves received backbreaking fieldwork, lighter skin was valued by white society. This has led to what some call the lily complex, where Black women cover up their natural features because they do not feel they are beautiful, and can only be “when they are impersonating someone else”.

This oppressive standard of beauty affects other women of color as well. According to this article, Asian women are even going as far as having plastic surgery to conform to the Eurocentric standard of beauty. They are having double eyelid surgery to make their eyes look more “white”, and even have been lightening their skin. Even TV anchor Julie Chen had surgery to make her eyes appear more “white” after a TV producer told her eyes looked too “Asian”. Latina women are often affected as well, as this article indicates that even the Latino media has been creating a Eurocentric standard of beauty in their content, which has had negative effects on their self-esteem, leading to depression. This has led many Latina women to have plastic surgery and lighten their skin in order to conform to the standard placed upon them by society.

It is clear to me that the white majority in society has valued light skin as the standard of beauty for centuries. Women who do not confirm to this standard are made to believe they are not beautiful, making them only feel beautiful when they have white features. This has led to devastating consequences, driving women of color to low self-esteem, depression, and even to surgically modify their body or lighten their skin to conform to this standard. In my opinion, women should not be made to feel inferior because of who they are, and should be free to be their natural selves and still feel beautiful. Because beauty has no color, and this oppressive standard needs to change.


Reasons why we need to question the Eurocentric standard of beauty in Western Culture

By Peter Graef

According to this article by Lexie Kite and Lindsay Kite in the blog beauty redefined, a particularly oppressive ideal of beauty excludes women of color. According to the article, even though one third of the US population is nonwhite, there is a serious lack of portrayals of women of color in the media. The article states that the reality is even when women of color are portrayed in the media, the examples of them being portrayed as beautiful of desirable are almost nonexistent.

When these Eurocentric ideals of beauty are questioned, there is often resistance. According to this article by the Daily Targum, this was especially signified by the online comments following the crowning of Nina Davuluri as miss America in 2013. Following Davuluri’s win, the internet erupted with racist comments. Even though Davuluri was Indian-American, people on twitter referred to her as a terrorist and much worse. There were some comments that said “this is America, not India”, and some people on twitter questioned why the runner up, a white woman from Kansas, did not win because she was more of a “real American”. The writer of the article goes on to say that the use of the word “American” to many means white, and the backlash surrounding Davuluri being crowned miss America “proves we are not in a post racial society yet”.

Both of these articles made excellent points that I definitely agree with. It seems the standard of beauty in the US, at least for a woman, has been “whitewashed”. Watching TV myself, I notice some of the themes that these articles bring up. It seems for all the talk of a post racial society, the idea seems premature if there are so many people who still don’t see realistic portrayals of themselves in the media. This standard of beauty is unfair and incomplete, and it has a devastating effect on girls and women of color, as I will write about in future posts.