Recently on BlackVoices.com writer Kirsten West Savali released a feature article discussing a recent poll published in Allure Magazine ( What’s Beautiful Now: The Allure American Beauty Survey) that allured (no pun intended) … (ok maybe a little, it was too easy) to the conclusive result that both Black and White women find that when it comes to race and heritage being mixed is the epitome of what it means to be beautiful. The magazine polled over 2,000 women and the results were both surprising and alarming.
When you look at modern media portrayals of both Black and White women it’s changed and rearranged itself standard-wise completely in the past 30-50 years as American society has evolved. In some ways things haven’t changed: Black women are still exposed as being overtly sexual beings or ‘”freaky”, and White women are still portrayed as being docile and “innocent.” But aspects of beauty, like being a curvier woman isn’t shunned like it once was. Being curvier is now well, flat-out sexy. Having darker toned (but not too dark) is now seen as “exotic.” Breast implants and reductions are now “birthday presents.” Lip injections, butt injections, cheek injections, skin tanning, skin lightening, liposuction, and oh God forbid if a woman begins to show signs of aging!- seriously? What are American women after? I do indeed believe that in some ways our society is still obsessed with the idea of perfection.
The ideal body-type was once a smaller, thinner frame like Marilyn Monroe, to a more athletic frame like Farah Fawcett and Grace Jones to now more vivacious and a sort of mix between thin and curvy: Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Heidi Montag, Amber Rose, Nicki Minaj, Giselle, and even reality t.v. stars like Snookie and JWOWW. The survey goes on to report that about 73% women say a curvier body type is more appealing than it has been in the past decade, but 85% would still like their hips to be narrowed. 97% percent of the women surveyed said they’d like to lose weight. But the study also concluded that African-American were three times as likely over Caucasian women, to rate themselves positively when it comes to beauty and confidence. Could it be all the emphasis on mixed features?
Looking at all the numbers, it spells out one main thing: American women, black, hispanic, and white…just aren’t really happy with ourselves. Overall the study and article concluded that 64% of people agreed being a mixed woman is the most beautiful kind of woman to be. So what does that say? Well it says two things: 1. Women are still prone to feeling a certain level of insecurity based on the media’s output of what beauty should look like. And 2. The obvious, women who stand on the border line of Black features and White features are it. And who’s the most revered celebrity beauty? Why Angeline Jolie of course. Her full lips, blue eyes, thin and yet curvy frame is the most sought after by men and wanted by women. And I’m not hating. The girl is freaking’ beautiful, but she’s beautiful in her own right first.
My opinion? ALL women have insecurities and we’re ALL struggling as American women to find that peak of confidence. When it comes down to the pressure both black and white women feel to be something other than themselves, yes I’ve certainly felt it too. It’s everywhere you turn, I guess as it always been, and now with a more diversified country, the beauty ideals have changed and been emphasized. So how do we combat this attack on our confidence? It’s simple: be yourself. And I don’t mean be your I-just-got-my-boobs-done-weave-done-lip injections-done-self. I mean be YOURSELF. Part of this attack is just marketing and beauty companies trying to make their money, but the other part of it is us as American women accepting ourselves for our differences and living in those differences.
I have a very close friend who’s mulatto (in fact I have a few) and I’ll admit, there was a time I envied her green eyes, caramel skin and naturally curly blonde hair. How exotic, how different, how gorgeous. And I actually told her one day “Girl you are so pretty. I love your look. I wish I had _____ _____ +_____”
And you know what she said to me? “Shut up girl! Your so tall and thin and your hair is so thick and long, I love your skin. You have an exotic look. Your one of the most gorgeous friends I have please.”
Now did she rub my ego a little bit. Yeah she did. I mean, but hey I never said I didn’t like what I already have. I’ve heard before that “you look exotic” comment. I’m not sure if that should really be accepted as compliment, but to play along: If I’m exotic and beautiful, and you’re exotic and beautiful and oh! She’s exotic and beautiful…WHY IN THE WORLD do we need to look like each other?? What makes us collectively beautiful are our ranges in beauty. It would be pretty boring to all look like Angeline Jolie (no hating I swear), and instead of trying to have what someone else “has” – There’s no need to try to be something you’re not, your you, you count and your beautiful. Confidence is the healthiest form of beauty. Why not just love the mixes we all are in this melting pot anyway?