Opinion: POC Women Consistently Masculinized and Face More Unattainable Societal Beauty Standards
Worldwide, outdated beauty standards continue to revolve around eurocentrism. Given that these unattainable standards are largely imposed upon women, women who do not fit these eurocentric views are often criticized and looked down upon in various ways. Often, these women are women of color (WOC).
The beauty standards for women have claimed feminine features equivalent to eurocentric features for many centuries — mainly dealing with having a fairer skin complexion, smaller nose, less body hair, etc. These features are often shown mainly in white women rather than WOC as they tend to have a darker skin complexion, bigger noses, and more body hair. This can cause immense harm to the self-esteem of many women of color who are not genetically given these ideal “feminized” features. They, then, in turn, are perceived as masculine.
White supremacy has evolved from being political to interfering with the concept of beauty. These changes within the beauty standard have made it difficult for many women of color to “fit in” as they have more maintenance to bear. They have to bear with surgical procedures, dangerous skin, hair, and even body care products, and many more. Overall WOC have more cosmetic procedures to be done just to be somewhere along with the same feminine beauty as white women, white women don’t have nearly as many procedures to bear as they are automatically viewed as beautiful because their features are the beauty standard.
This poses the idea that if WOC do not act hyper-feminine with the help of dangerous and degrading procedures, they will be deemed as the opposite — masculine. Not only does this idea produce a harmful effect on the self-image of many women, but it also highlights the neverending toxicity of society’s concept of beauty standards.
The society we know today mainly revolves around social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok. These platforms feature more eurocentric-looking women such as small noses, less body hair, lighter complexion, colored eyes, etc., and advertise products that contribute to the white beauty standard rather than those who oppose them. These products could be hair color products mostly including women with straight, silky hair and fair skin. Just that one example of a hair color product shows how far white beauty standards can go even in social media.
Although social media platforms can encourage diverse standards of beauty, they’re often biased towards their own; and as always, it’s eurocentric. This can be shown with the large number of caucasian-featured models beginning to dominate many parts of the modern world.
Examples of some parts of the world with prevalent white beauty standards are China, many countries in Africa, and South Asia: women use whitening creams for their skin to appear lighter and “beautiful,” some even go as far as bleaching their pigmented skin in order to appeal to the beauty standard. Other examples of not just these specific regions, but around the world are eurocentric facial surgeries such as nose jobs, double eyelids and many more that seem to be done by many women for the same global reason.
These examples show how far many women go in order to seem “appealing” and feminine. The white standard of beauty diminishes the ability of many women to see themselves as desirable and feminine.
A study in a southwestern university located in the U.S conducted an experiment with 31 black women about their perception of issues dealing with black beauty. A topic of this discussion included colorism and the initial response of one of the women was, “I don’t know if it was because I was dark, but like people who were lighter would always get things like accolades and things like that. I was just pushed to the shadow, lacked attention from guys and things like that.” This problem isn’t just one the beauty industry needs to realize but also one society needs to address as a whole.
The US pageant, for example, only recognized WOC in 1940 and gave them the ability to participate. Although they did allow WOC to participate, the rules of the pageant from before 1940s that stated “contestants must have good health and be white in race,” had still been engraved into the majority of the nation’s head making it more competitive for WOC to have a fair advantage against white women. Although this example exemplifies a minor readjustment into the U.S beauty pageant allowing WOC to partake in the organization, the white standard of beauty made it more difficult for them to hold the same power that white women had. Now the time has changed and WOC have gained more advantage than they had over the past decades, they still don’t have the equal advantage of those who are white women.
Although most beauty industries in the U.S have predominantly diversified their models into their product lines, they are still failing to recognize the beautiful features of women of color. The U.S is one of the most diverse countries so it is understandable as to why the beauty industry has adapted to more WOC joining in the product lines. Even though a country like the U.S may have a more diversified range of models, many of them correlate with white features (such as a double eyelid, smaller nose, petite and skinny etc.) or many of them are still white.
Many women of color throughout social media have claimed they feel as if they will never match the beauty standard regardless of how pretty they feel because the standard is white-washed. These thoughts also add onto the beauty industry as beauty companies are represented in advertisements throughout social media platforms
The effect of these thoughts match up with the feeling of being masculinized; they feel that social media and the society itself have always promoted the idea of women being built a certain way, that being petite with no muscles. It is known that mainly black women build muscle a lot faster than those of white women, they have different genetic variations which leads to them having more muscles such as curves, breasts and broad shoulders. The beauty standard promotes the idea that a feminine body has less body muscle and an overall petite structure that most black women have trouble meeting because of biological factors.
Society favoring Eurocentric beauty standards has led to many self esteem issues on WOC especially dealing with the feeling of being “less” of a woman. The lack of diversity in facial features along with other physical factors in the beauty industry from the cause of the white beauty standard only creates negativity without any unity. Understanding this perspective will create an overall equal standard and inclusion among all women around the world.