Beauty Redefined Blog

Beauty Whitewashed: How White Ideals Exclude Women of Color

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For Elle's Feb 2014 cover, one of these covers is not like the other

For Elle’s Feb 2014 cover, one of these covers is not like the other

At Beauty Redefined, we talk a lot about harmful media beauty ideals that become unquestioned norms in our minds. Things like extreme thinness, appearance-focused “fitness,” sex appeal, and photoshopping phoniness are rampant in media and normalized as our cultural ideals. But one of the most oppressive ideals excludes anyone who isn’t … white. We call it the whitewashing of beauty. And it happens more often than you can imagine. 

Vanity Fair’s 2012 “Fresh Faces of Young Hollywood” features only white women on the cover … again. But they were nice enough to include two women of color (Paula Patton and Adepero Oduye) on the inside flap.

In a country where a full one-third of the population is black, Native American, Asian, Pacific Islander, Hispanic or Latina, the serious underrepresentation of women of color in media is really disturbing. Further, when you only account for the women of color shown in positive roles or depictions – especially those depicted as beautiful or desirable – the number is almost negligible. Since Beauty Redefined is focused on recognizing and rejecting harmful messages about bodies and beauty in media, we can’t pretend that race isn’t a major factor in the most harmful of beauty ideals. Images of white women dominate all media – especially roles or depictions featuring “beautiful” or desirable women, not funny sidekicks, the chunky best friend, the hired help or other stereotypes. To think this doesn’t have a negative effect on females who rarely see images of their own races depicted in a positive manner is insane. To think it doesn’t have an effect on the way white people (and all people) view women of color is equally insane.

Since researchers have assumed that black girls were immune to the effects of thin-ideal media(1), communication scholar Kristen Harrison (2006) conducted a study aimed at testing this idea. Using survey data from 61 African American teen girls, she studied how TV exposure influenced the girls’ beliefs about others thought of the girls’ own bodies. She discovered that for larger girls, TV exposure significantly influenced their belief that their peers thought they should be smaller. For the smaller girls, TV exposure significantly influenced the belief that their classmates expected them to be larger. In other words, the larger girls in the group assumed their classmates thought they were too fat, while the smaller girls assumed their classmates thought they were too skinny. Interestingly, Harrison found the same result three years earlier when she found white women’s exposure to TV beauty ideals predicted the large-busted women wanted smaller chests and small-busted women wanted larger chests.

Beyonce before and after Loreal’s digital manipulation.

Basically, that means for-profit beauty ideals in media are WORKING. Too many industries thrive off women feeling bad about themselves and seeking ways to fix their “flaws,” which women naturally perceive as a result of not measuring up to media standards for beautiful or even “average.” These studies (along with plenty of others) show us that pretty much everyone feels bad. Too fat, too thin, too busty, not busty enough, too tall, too white, too dark …

Queen Latifah Over the Years

The mainstream beauty ideal is almost exclusively white, making it all the more unattainable for women of color. Though beautiful women of color like Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Queen Latifah, Rihanna, Jennifer Hudson, Halle Berry and others have achieved renown in U.S. culture, media representations of these women have become increasingly “anglicized” or “whitewashed” over time, with lighter-colored, straighter hair, lighter makeup, colored contacts and often shrinking figures (5). Though many of these transformations are likely decided by the celebrities themselves or their styling teams, some of the transformations are much more sinister … and more digital. Companies like Loreal and Clairol have come under fire for digitally lightening both the skin color and hair color of black women featured in their advertising, including Beyonce and Queen Latifah, as shown above.

Gabourey Sidibe Elle Magazine, Sept. 2010

Even when the women are being recognized for something other than their beauty, like, say, an Oscar nomination for incredibly talented actress Gabourey Sidibe of “Precious,” magazines like Elle still feel the need to whitewash her in order to feature her image on the cover. While representation of women of color in media has increased slightly over the past decade, finding positive depictions of women with dark skin tones or natural hair is still nearly impossible in mainstream media. Further, when we do see women of color respresented as beauty icons in media, they almost always already fit white ideals –meaning they already have light skin tones, light-colored, straight hair, ideally “white” facial features, thin figures, etc. The most famous examples of black or multiracial women celebrated for their beauty or desirability consistently fit those standards, and coming up with examples who don’t is really tough. Tyra Banks, Halle Berry, Rihanna, Gabrielle Union, Ciara, Zoe Saldana, Brandy, Janet Jackson, Alicia Keys … the list goes on.

Halle Berry

Tyra Banks

For both Latina and black women, research shows beauty ideals include more “feminine curves” than the dominant white ideal (6). Instead of always subscribing to the thin ideal, girls and women of color, in some cases, value a “thick” ideal, comprising a slender but curvy body, with a thin waist, big breasts and hips and a round behind. Essentially, “the feminine ideal is tanned, healthy slenderness, with no unsightly bumps, bulges, or cellulite, and bodily and facial perfection that results from hours of labor: exercise, makeup, and hair care” (Coward, 1985; Kuhn, 1985) ‑ and 25 years later, plastic surgery and digital manipulation.

One recent example of this digital distortion to create (or make women fit) ideals is the notriously curvaceous actress Sofia Vergara (of the TV show “Modern Family”), whose arm was slimmed to the extreme for Pepsi’s “Skinny Can” campaign (barf). Despite a controlling ideal that values “feminine curves” along with the thin ideal, this is still an objectified and unrealistic standard that is a nearly impossible combination for most women, unless extreme photoshopping or expensive and life-threatening cosmetic surgery is performed. Latina and Hispanic girls are still suffering under these controlling standards of beauty.

Jennifer Lopez 2011

Jennifer Lopez (bottom middle) in the mid-’90s as a “Fly Girl” on “In Living Color”

In studies where Latina teenage girls report greater body satisfaction compared to white girls, they still report comparable or higher rates of disordered eating (2). Scary facts: Greater acculturation into mainstream U.S. culture has been associated with preference for much thinner body types among Mexican American women. Studies have found second-generation Mexican Americans had the highest levels of disordered eating among first- through fifth-generation Mexican Americans. In other words, Latinas who are daughters of first-generation Americans were most likely to have an eating disorder, potentially as a result of trying to fit in with U.S. ideals, which may differ starkly from ideas about bodies found in their parents’ native cultures (4). Further, Latina adolescents describe an ideal body type that looks extremely similar to the white norm AND they report the desire to lose weight at similar rates to their white peers (7).

Jennifer Hudson, cover of In Style, Aug. 2010

Jennifer Hudson on American Idol, 2004

Though many studies assume black females are more capable of resisting dangerous thin ideals than white females, plenty of evidence suggests that’s simply not true for too many. Botta (2000) found that for both black and white girls, exposure to TV beauty ideals was  associated with a stronger drive for thinness and greater body dissatisfaction. Roberts et al. (2004) echoed these findings, declaring that black girls may be particularly vulnerable to internalizing media messages that emphasize beauty and appearance. Others (8) have found that the number of hours watching music videos increased the appearance and weight concerns of teen girls, with those findings being strongest among the black girls tested. Generally, television watching is related to lower self esteem and higher levels of disordered eating for girls and young women of all races and ethnicities (Harrison & Hefner, 2006; Tiggemann, 2006).

Rhianna on the December 2011 cover of Vogue compared to her as a child

We know different cultures may have different perceptions and definitions of beauty or even thinness, since Asian women considered to be of normal weight and figure in an Asian culture may be considered underweight or anorexic by Westerner ideas of body size. But the central issue here is not so much cultural definitions of beauty or body size – it is the dangerous lengths some people will go in order to achieve those ideals. Essentially, women are viewing a distorted reality and holding themselves to the unattainable standard set by the non-reality of popular media – and most often, those standards are based on oppressive, power-laden ideals of whiteness.

This is, in fact, Beyonce in a newly released photo for her latest record, “4.”

References
1: Adams et al., 2000; Dolamore, 1999; Flynn & Fitzgibbon, 1996, Thompson et al., 1997
2: Barry & Grilo, 2002; Crago et al., 1996; Granillo et al., 2005; White & Grilo, 2005
3. Cachelin, Monreal, & Juarez, 2006; Jane, Hunter, & Lozzi, 1999; Gowen et al., 1999
4. Goodman, 2002, p.714
5. Cepeda, 2003; Guzman & Valdivia, 2004
6. de Casanova, 2004; Goodman, 2002; Rubin et al., 2003
7. Neumark-Sztainer et al., 2002; Poran, 2002; Rosen & Gross, 1987
8. Borzekowski et al., 2000
 

  1. Collette Bishop
    Collette Bishop02-27-2011

    I was wondering why I never see black women on magazine covers (besides National Geographic) before you wrote this. Now I know..

    • Martine
      Martine12-28-2013

      Um there are more black women then white on magazines. Actually, I don’t see how discriminating against white models and women in general is anything but racism. I am getting tired of being told that thinking that white coloring and features are beautiful is wrong. I don’t want to raise my children to hate themselves any more then a black or a latina women does.

      • Bjork You
        Bjork You01-07-2014

        Um, no there are not.

      • Bjork You
        Bjork You01-07-2014

        No one here is saying that white features are wrong. You are putting your own issues about race onto this subject. You might be “getting tired of being told,” but maybe that is an indication of you not listening. Your comment and subsequent digression show this.

      • Claire
        Claire01-09-2014

        Martine, the fact that you consider that women of color prevail over white women and models on magazine covers is laughable. The article above proves this. WHITE has always been the fundamental beauty ideal in America, it is WHITE women you always see in Vogue or Elle covers, it is WHITE actors and actresses who almost ALWAYS win awards. Watch a Dior or Chanel runway and I’ll be suprised if you found at least a FIFTH of the models who are not WHITE.

        And don’t worry, your children will not hate themselves if they are white living in this whiteness-obsessed society. How can they be when “white” is universally-hailed by the media as the ultimate characteristic of beauty and desirability? Because it is. If it weren’t, then how come magazines are sacrificing all those gorgeous women’s skin colors just to make them fit that ideal better? Seriously, educate yourself.

        • Charlene
          Charlene02-10-2014

          I applaud you, Claire. The false notion that most women featured on magazines are not white is absolutely ludicrous. I can’t believe anyone would be stupid enough to even suggest that. It’s like saying that we have had plenty of female presidents.

      • AbsolutGrndZer0
        AbsolutGrndZer002-21-2014

        It’s not saying that white women are not beautiful, it’s about removing the color from a woman of color’s skin because she’s too dark for our ideals…. Just look agian at Gabourey Sidibe!!! She has very very dark skin, but Elle made her look half-white-half black instead. THAT is the problem.

        • whadawhat?
          whadawhat?03-13-2014

          Actually, I am close to Ms. Sibide’s color and it is possible that there was no manipulation to her skin color. Blacks, as others I’m sure, have undertones to their skin, and if you shine enough light on me my skin looks lighter when photographed.

      • Amanda
        Amanda04-22-2014

        I have to strongly disagree with you, Martine.

        No one is blaming the models or actors. They are blaming the people the who have the mindset that the features of one particular race are better than another. They are the people who seem to discriminate against others who don’t meet their standards of beauty. They are blaming the people who constantly put things out in the media that make a lot people feel bad about themselves.

        And as a matter of fact, in many cases it’s not just white people who are to blame. You have people in India and Africa who are obsessed with lightning their skin and put down those with darker skin. You have black men who have admitted to saying that European features just look better on a woman than non-European features. The only thing this article is calling for is acknowledging the beauty of all types of women and not just one. It’s not putting down white women for being white. Even if the script was flipped and white women were the ones who were underrepresented and black women or Hispanic women were the ones who constantly got the spotlight. I think that would be just as wrong, and I am a person of color. It doesn’t matter who’s in what place.

        When it comes down to it, making people feel like crap because they don’t look how society wants them to is wrong.

        That’s all this is trying to point out.

  2. Sumiko
    Sumiko02-27-2011

    I was watching “Bones” the other day, and noticing that although Washington, D.C. (where the show is set) has one of the highest populations of African-Americans, there are very few characters of color on the show. Interesting. And those who are, align closely with more anglicized ideals.

    • Elle
      Elle05-08-2012

      Don’t get me started on BONES I CANNNOT stand their comments, on DC and it’s urban areas.

    • KissOfDanger
      KissOfDanger10-07-2012

      Covert Affairs does the same thing too.

  3. Lili
    Lili03-02-2011

    I remember having a similar conversation in an anthropology class, only my classmate’s observation was that in Mexico, nearly all of the famous TV stars are incredibly fair-skinned and light-haired Mexicans, even though they may not represent the tones of the true regional populace.

    • demi
      demi07-24-2012

      I have a problem as well with Spanish TV. I want to watch more shows, but I want to see people of color . It is sad in the year 2012, people are not demanding to see themselves.
      There are blacks, Asians, and other nationalities in Latin America. Therefore, the Spanish networks should have some of these people on their networks as well. On a side note, many Black Latinos have to know English to get work. It is just such a shame, more people of color are not on these shows. Beauty is in everyone!!!!

      • Asli
        Asli01-07-2013

        I can understand what you mean by this. This reminds of the other day I was eating @ a restaurant & the family next to me were Japanese Portuguese-speaking people from Brazil, and I thought their identities are not allowed in the hyper-sexualized stereotypes of Brazilian culture & peoples.

    • Claire
      Claire01-09-2014

      This is so true. I am mexican and I always cheer when I see a protagonist who doesn’t actually look like an European supermodel.

    • Melchior67
      Melchior6705-28-2014

      Obvioulsy people like to forget that many Hispanics have European ancestry. Some more than others. Thats why I wonder if it’s right to include them under the “people of color” category. And these so called standards are “Anglo American” standards. And don’t repersent the standards of all White people. Women in Eastern Europe have different cultures and different standrds of feminine beauty. This one size fits all crap is BS!

  4. EastsideWill
    EastsideWill03-06-2011

    Wonderful blog with a lot of extremely use bits of information and facts! It is a really very good experience to finally discover such a useful resource. I’ve been exploring the site for more than an hour now and have truly uncovered a lot. Just wanted to let you know :)

  5. Natalia
    Natalia07-13-2011

    What an excellent post! Lots of resources to draw from and things to ponder. The photos are perfect representations of what the author discusses. I’d been thinking for years that black women are increasingly straightening their hair and wondering why they would want to do that when it sometimes even looks odd… even Jewish friends of mine who have beautiful curly locks get them permanently straightened — what a waste! What conformity! What an insidious culture we live in!

    • Todra Payne
      Todra Payne05-08-2012

      Natalia,

      You are so right. In the entertainment industry every woman in the public eye has straight hair. But thankfully on the streets, that’s changing! There is a huge movement back to natural hair for African-American women. Blogs on the subject are thriving to the point of buy-outs at millions of dollars. New magazines are popping up that only feature models with their natural curls and kinks. But honestly, for many women in “professional” fields (like college professors. lawyers or news reporters), there is a huge fear that their careers could suffer if they don’t fit the ideal. Professionalism is a sly way black women are kept in place. Natural hair is “unprofessional” and militant in some fields. Some women choose to keep their hair natural and wear wigs to work daily. I think that’s disgusting that they should have to do that. Can you imagine an Asian woman being told her eye shape is “unprofessional”? How does a God-given trait make you unprofessional? Natural hair can be stylish and beautiful, just like relaxed hair. It’s ridiculous. And as you can see, it makes me mad.

      • the Raging Scotsman
        the Raging Scotsman04-20-2013

        Natalia, I think Todra Payne made half the connection; while nearly all black women I see daily have straightened their hair, wear clothing which is mainstream ‘white media popularized,’ it is largely the poorer, uneducated women who are dressing like ‘hoochie mamas’ while those upwardly mobile types dress like preppy white college girls. The irony to me is that most of the younger white college-age are hell bent on making their bums look bigger, making their skin look tanner, and generally trying to look like a ‘fly girl’ so that when are seen hanging on the arm of some “white ghetto trashy look” guy with his hair curled, his teeth unnaturally covered in metal, they believe they’ll look “cool” to their friends. Most of the guys their age are piercing and/or tattooing themselves into large canvases of self-loathing, incoherent self-expression. One only need look at the so-called ‘cultural icons’ of popular media (i.e. sports figures, entertainers, etc.) to ascertain where these idiotic, other-imitating, self-abnegating behaviors emanate from, and it is no wonder with a few in our society making (and conspicuously spending) large amounts of cash, that more often than not these young people want to imitate what to them seems like the ideals of success, so they buy a flashy sports car (there really IS one for every budget-curious, that) in vain attempts to be accepted by their peers.

        The illness that is insecurity is so pervasive in our society, and it has more than one source, but originally it was the field of advertising which started the ball rolling. Even back as far as the original Sears mail order catalog, women’s corsets were being advertised to women who wanted to minimize their waist size, emphasize their bust, and so on.

        I would recommend all your female AND male readers watch Katie Makkai do her rant on the whole concept of ‘pretty’ here: http://youtu.be/M6wJl37N9C0
        It should serve as a primer for all young women AND young men, at perhaps the 4th grade level, to study this video and discuss it in class. This would be one way towards the hopeful future release of our sisters from the bondage of the judgment of others, and free them from caring about anything more than how good they feel about themselves.

        Thank you for your story.

        Namaste,

        TRS

  6. Casey Johnson
    Casey Johnson07-14-2011

    This post is awesome! Thank you for taking the time to say what has been on a lot of women’s mind. I live in NYC so there are billboards and posters everywhere of generally white women or whitewashed women of color, and I ask myself, whose representing me. Why do I have to get a “black” magazine to see a women of color on the font page. Why is it when ELLE, or Vogue, puts a women of color on the cover page that its progressive. Are we still that backwards! With the melting pot that is America, how can we not be color blind when it comes to beauty? Its sad, backwards, and it’s keeping us from moving forward. I hope this doesn’t last.

  7. Richard
    Richard07-25-2011

    Here’s an idea. If you don’t agree with white ideals, perhaps you should leave white countries.

    • G starr
      G starr10-20-2011

      Here the thing you not from america either so i think you should take yourself back to Ireland or Britan or Germany. Blacks built washington DC and gave free FORCED labor which made America a rich land. Chinese built the railroads which gave people the ability to spread to places like Utah, Denver, and California. Now you have mexicans cooking food and working roads for less pay. Here the thing Richard when you buy your clothing it was made in china …when you buy your diamonds it was mined in Africa and certain foods you eat our a combonation of many Cultures. So in other words grow up and stop being a lil B*tch. If you dont agree go back to where your white roots stem from.

      • Lou
        Lou07-09-2012

        Exactly I second this. If everyone went back to where they belonged this Indigenous land we called America would no longer be colonized by Europeans. Thanks.

        • IAMTHEONETHAT SAID IT, UR AN IDIOTA
          IAMTHEONETHAT SAID IT, UR AN IDIOTA07-01-2013

          POINT!!

          • Fredrick
            Fredrick11-18-2013

            That kind of thkniing shows you’re an expert

      • IAMTHEONETHAT SAID IT, UR AN IDIOTA
        IAMTHEONETHAT SAID IT, UR AN IDIOTA07-01-2013

        AGREED

    • angela
      angela11-09-2011

      since when has America been a “white country”?

    • Danielle
      Danielle11-09-2011

      Ummm…perhaps you forgot or choose not to recognize, Richard, that America was originally inhabited by Indians not whites.

    • Marisa
      Marisa11-10-2011

      Here’s an idea. If you don’t like hearing people speak out about injustice, put your hands over your ears and repeat “I can’t hear you” over and over. That should keep you busy while the world changes around you. If you keep your eyes closed too, you won’t even have to see it. Then nothing can threaten your worldview.

      OR you could open your mind to the possibility that being white does not make you better than everyone else. Hopefully you will discover that you have other ways to measure your worth.

      On second thought, if being a white male is the only thing you’ve got going on, maybe you better cling to your privilege. If you’re forced to live in a world that doesn’t cater to you because of your race and gender, that could be pretty tough. Imagine how hard it would be to feel good about yourself if people who don’t look like you were actually pictured on magazine covers!

      Maybe posting things like “go back where you came from” is your best strategy. As long as you can hold back the tide of change, you can go on forever believing you are something special just because of your skin color. If that’s all you’ve got, I wouldn’t want to take that away from you…

      But I don’t think the rest of the world is going to keep their mouths shut just so you can maintain your fantasy. Yep. You better put your hands over your ears. And for heaven’s sake, stay away from the internet. There are so many ideas out there, and you’ve already got one, so you don’t want to be exposed to any more.

      • Adrienne
        Adrienne11-10-2011

        Bravo Marisa! You’ve always been one of my favorite people, but I’m not being biased when I say that your comment totally ROCKED!!!

        • Janice
          Janice11-14-2011

          Marisa, I couldn’t have said it better myself! Thank you!!!

      • Lisa
        Lisa04-25-2012

        You’re amazing

      • Todra Payne
        Todra Payne05-08-2012

        Wow. I was about to blast him, but you did just a great job, I don’t need to say a thing. Bravo!

      • the Raging Scotsman
        the Raging Scotsman04-20-2013

        I’m with Todra, Lisa, Janice and Adrienne, Richard was/is a troll. Of course, since if I’m not mistaken, trolls are a Norwegian invention of imagination, then of course they’d be….white.

        • IAMTHEONETHAT SAID IT, UR AN IDIOTA
          IAMTHEONETHAT SAID IT, UR AN IDIOTA07-01-2013

          LMAO

      • Lucky
        Lucky09-21-2013

        This is the perfect response to any and every bigoted narrow minded fool!

        Well done!!

    • Angelisa
      Angelisa11-10-2011

      That was pretty ignorant to say. Nothing is wrong about standing up for injustice.

    • Lisa
      Lisa04-25-2012

      The truth is Richard …. no one cares….. you spend all your time hating and being a racist… When you could actually be living life…….in the real world people really don’t give a damn about your precious aryan ideals. Let’s face it that crap is on the way out cause it’s boring…. the world is too fast paced to slow down and listen to your boring aryan blah blah oh look i just got a text i don’t give a shit anymore……

    • Grace
      Grace05-08-2012

      As a white person, Richard, I can only add that you are a f*cking embarrassment to those of us who are not entitled douchebags. I would *like* to point out that there is no such thing as a “white country”, or make a sardonic allusion to dumping chalk dust over the entire geographical area of a nation, but frankly if you’re too stupid to see that yourself, you’re a lost cause and a waste of all our time.

      Just… shut up. White privilege gets more than enough airtime without you. Cheers!

      • IAMTHEONETHAT SAID IT, UR AN IDIOTA
        IAMTHEONETHAT SAID IT, UR AN IDIOTA07-01-2013

        O MY GOSH. I LOVE YOUR REPLY TO THAT IMBECILE. IF I HAD READ THAT FIRST I WOULD NOT HAVE REPLIED. :) YOU SAID IT ALL.

    • May
      May07-16-2012

      White countries? LOL…wow…not only a bastard but an uneducated one too. So, who lived here before Columbus ever stepped foot on it DOUCHE? And who is the current majority in this country. Here’s a hint, stop watching fox effin news and talking to your idiot friends and catch up on the real news and while you’re at it you might want to pause on your racialist material. You’re a real jackass, a real credit to nothing.

      • May
        May07-16-2012

        May — that was in response to “Richard” jerk off (sorry ladies).

    • ZL 'Kai' Burington
      ZL 'Kai' Burington08-04-2012

      I don’t think you read the article. A country with over one third of it’s population people of color is not a white nation. Furthermore, if all you have to say is troll, how about leaving?

    • IAMTHEONETHAT SAID IT, UR AN IDIOTA
      IAMTHEONETHAT SAID IT, UR AN IDIOTA07-01-2013

      You are an idiot. The post is about whitewashing in media. The MEDIA is EVERYWHERE not just in white countries you RACIST IDIOT. TV, COMPUTER, RADIO, CABLE, SATELLITES ETC ARE IN OTHER COUNTRIES TOO INCLUDING THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES. Obviously based on your comment you are an ignorant ass. Do us all a favor and if you don’t like this post IGNORE IT. I would tell you what else to do with yourself if you have a problem with non-white people and cultures living around you but i don’t want to considered a bully or blamed if you did actually kill yourself. THE WORLD would be a better place with less people with thoughts like yours.

    • Todra
      Todra07-19-2013

      Here’s a thought. AMERICA isn’t a WHITE country. Moron.

    • Millay
      Millay09-01-2013

      America a white country!? I’m sure that the whites in America are immigrants, is it not a Native American country? Imbecile!

    • Maddy
      Maddy10-08-2013

      Comments like these actually make me worried about education in this country. Do people not realize that America is a diverse country? If anything, the most “American” people are the ones who are completely of Native American descent (and they aren’t that common anymore). Is it so hard to understand that America is NOT a white country and that a significant percentage of the population is not white (which is even stated in the article)? Like damn.

    • shqe
      shqe12-06-2013

      leave white countries? you are so, so blind. so ignorant. did you know that europe pretty much colonized everyone and almost every country is subject to white standards of beauty? it is common in vietnam to avoid sunlight at all costs to remain as pale as possible. in countries like india only the light-skinned people are regarded as beautiful and become famous and there are even products that claim to lighten their skin. it’s a white world.

    • Fed up!
      Fed up!04-14-2014

      Why should non-white Americans have to leave their families and the lives they’ve built just to go live in another nation where American media pumps these false standards and ideals into every country on earth? Its done via media, videos,the internet, movies, TV shows dubbed into other languages and advertising? Since America is a participatory democracy, non-white Americans citizens can use their consumer power, their boycott power, their communication power, their investment power and their collective political power to change things that do not reflect the along with things that work to deny or damage them. Its a fact that by 2043 whites will no longer be the majority in America. As it stands people of non-white races represent a vast majority in America. That whites built America is a fallacy. Black slave labor, the Chinese, Mexican Americans, Pacific Islanders, Eskimos & Native Americans played large roles in building America. None more so than black Americans. Today these groups of Americans are able to have a voice to share their histories. The American history is not a white story. the all “white America portrayed in old history books are nothing but a collection of myths and half truths which excluded the voices & histories of all the other races in America.

    • LOL
      LOL05-27-2014

      Go back to Europe since America isnt a “white country”
      Plus no matter where you go, racism, slavery and white supremacy has made sure that white beauty is far and wide, its everywhere. White beauty is praised all around the world.

  8. Kelly
    Kelly08-02-2011

    Richard,

    I’m sorry to inform you that this is a multiracial democracy. It is NOT a white country and it NEVER was. In the beginning you were outnumbered by Native Americans and Africans. Now — despite your centuries of racially exclusive immigration policies — you’re about to be outnumbered by all of us again. By 2042, you will be less than half the population.

    Already, we have a black president. Our nation’s changing demographics mean you should get ready for more national leadership by non-white Americans.

    I’m sorry to inform you that you will have to learn to share political power and resources with everyone else. Unfortunately, Richard, this means we will be demanding and making some changes to the media organizations that once perpetuated the myth that this is a white country. One of the things we’ll be starting with is ending their efforts to whitewash beauty.

    Thanks,
    Kelly

  9. Kelly
    Kelly08-02-2011

    Funny thing about the photos of the black and Afro-Latina celebs: even their before photos have been whitewashed. Most were born with — curly, kinky, not weaved, permed or otherwise straightened — hair, which is apparently unacceptable.

    • Adeen
      Adeen02-24-2012

      I agree with you, Kelly. America has never been a White country. Indians had it first. Anyways, you are right. Images of the Black celebrities before they were famous are white washed by the media. The media only worships White beauty not beauty of the women of color like me and others. It is nice to see Black women on covers of magazines but there is not enough. These days, I don’t listen to what the media has to say about beauty because every woman is beautiful in their own way. You don’t have to be blond hair, blue eyed, tanned, big breast etc to be beautiful. Sure Marilyn Monroe, Farrah Fawcett, Kate Hudson, and Scarlett Johanssen are beautiful but so are Halle Berry, Viola Davis, Lauren London and Sanaa Lathan, Zoey Saldana, Eva Mendes, Salma Hayek, are beautiful.

      • Melchior67
        Melchior6705-28-2014

        I wouldn’t include Salma Hayek with Halley Berry or Sanaa Lathan. She is of Southern European descent . I would put in the same category with southern Italians and Greeks..Sophia Loren etc

  10. emma
    emma11-09-2011

    I think some of it is true, but the author is clearly manipulating the reader by having purposefully chosen the pictures she chose.

    2 Examples:
    1)Jennifer Lopez so-called “before” image is what she had to transform to play Selina for the film Selina. That was not Jennifer’s look then or now.
    2)Rihanna’s so-called look today. She is on a cover with a wig channeling who knows who, but that is not her look today. She’s very eclectic and creative. One platinum blonde wig image does not define her. And she is already the ideal to many. Naturally tanned, light eye color, and curvy in all of the right places.

    One more thing that really bothered me is saying the Latinos and Mexican Americans are the same. Living near the border to Mexico. That’s completely wrong.

    I go to Mexico often enough and they, as a society, don’t like so-called “thick” women. Mexicans are slim by nature. They eat smaller portions than Americans. When you mention 2nd generation Mexican American women may be struggling with acculturation and choosing Mexican way of eating and fast food culture I would have bought it. The way it is phrased is bullshit. All women in America as teenagers struggle with their weight. It’s an issue for all women regardless of race or ethnic background.

    Interesting to see that 5th generation Mexican Americans can’t be American by then…but Jews, Poles, and Italians can.

    I usually like these articles but I have to call bullshit when I see it.

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined11-09-2011

      Emma, Wow. I don’t mind some healthy criticism every now and then, but calling this very well-researched piece “bullsh**” (more than once) and saying I’m “manipulating” readers is completely out of line and entirely false.
      #1) Yes, the first image of J.Lo is from the same time period as “Selena,” but that is also extremely similar to what she looked like in her actual life. I’m including an additional photo above showing her from the same time as a “fly girl” on “In Living Color” – same dark hair color (only this time curly), same dark eyebrows and makeup coloring. The individual photo was chosen so readers could see a good, clear shot of her (rather than the group shot from the TV show), and NOT to manipulate them.
      #2) I never said the second photo is how Rihanna looks all the time. Obviously she’s ecclectic and changes all the time – but this is a very clear example of a woman of color who has been made to look white on the cover of a very popular magazine. I also never attributed blame to who made her look that way. The example stands.
      #3) I would never say Hispanics and Latinas are the same. Please do not put those words in my mouth. Those findings are on acculturation and cultural ideals and are backed up by extensive peer-reviewed research and are not my opinions. If your opinion on what body types most Mexicans or Mexican Americans have or prefer happens to differ from these findings, then that is fine, but it doesn’t negate the findings.
      #4) Your statement about 5th generation Mexican Americans not being Americans is unclear, but it sounds as if you’re insinuating that I (and the researchers behind the studies) don’t consider them “Americans.” This is false. Those are studies of differences among generations of Americans whose families originated in Mexico, and it is necessary to differentiate between generations. Obviously they’re Americans.
      #5) Last, when you said all American women struggle with weight in their teens and said it’s an issue regardless of race or ethnic background, you proved one of the major points of this piece. But you say it as if I’m saying only black and Latinas struggle, which is clearly not the case. Our culture’s unrealistic ideals are exterting pressure on all women in many ways, including white ideals, as elaborated in this piece.

      • Todra Payne
        Todra Payne05-08-2012

        Great comeback. Rihanna does have an eclectic look. But when she was featured on the cover of a major magazine, they put here in a BLOND wig. Enough said.

        • Kristi
          Kristi07-13-2012

          I’m pretty sure Rihanna was dressed up as Marilyn Monroe in that picture. It was a statement. Ms. Monroe was a very “powerful” woman in her own time while in the entertainment business. She was both a sweetheart and a vixen. To make a comparison saying Rihanna is like Ms. Monroe isn’t something about race, but influence. If you’re just looking at this picture and seeing race then you’re not getting the deeper meaning.

          Aside from that, for the most part Beauty Redefined is right that celebrity looks are becoming rather linear to one look (straight hair, lighter skin, etc.), but I must say that I know many women who honestly can’t stand their curly hair. When I ask them why, saying that I would love to have to have hair like that (I honestly never know what to do with mine) the answer I usually get is that its too much work. “You have to use product, or else it gets frizzy. Can’t get it wet…or else it gets frizzy…oh and talk about tangles!” But that what I’ve heard.

    • Sierra
      Sierra02-14-2014

      The issue being discussed is white ideals being held up as….well, ideal. The photos you take issue with are examples, chosen to imply a question: If white ideals were not being promoted, why would a woman of color CHOOSE a look that clearly emulates the anglican look?

      The pictures of Halle and Rihanna sporting whitewashed skin and a platinum wig DO exemplify a trend that is never seen in the reverse. When is the last time you saw a white woman made up to appear African, or styling/replacing their natural hair with ethnic hairstyles or peices? And why not? Because women of color are incessantly told to follow US, to strive to look like US, that white is the ideal. That’s the issue. And the pictures do exemplify the promblem.

  11. Athena
    Athena11-13-2011

    Using such a phrase as “white ideal” is racism in itself. People of color should really resist the use of such phrases created by white men with power and used widely right after WWII. Ideals have no color, we are free to create them, choose and define our ideals. People may choose different ideals or role models for managing life and its challenges, to succeed in some social context. And of course we flock, but we are all brainwashed, and knowing that can make us freer. It is more challenging, however our brain need some challenges to keep fit.
    The change of color created in these manipulated photos are not ideals, they are delusions, made by some with racist beliefs. I cannot understand that these black model-women accept that magazines change their skin-tone. Who are the persons behind the manipulation of these photos? When you find out, you can start asking question and discussing the real causes of racism. Very many women should really start repeating for themselves that they are good enough as they are, and start spending time and energy on more important matters. Do not let skin tone be an issue for success. Take a look at this video: Miss Representation Extended Trailer

  12. Doly
    Doly01-02-2012

    Many thanks for this most interesting study!!!

    I often quarrel with people, as I try to have them open their eyes. Most don’t mind if a colored girl dies her hair or wear color lenses. They say “it’s just fashion, no racism in that”…but of course, this is a racist fashion: we tell woman that because of their race, they cannot be beautiful! x_x They are implicitly told to do something their white neighbours will never have to do: change their appearance to ‘whiten’ themselves. The pictures are relevant: why do people like Beyonce, Tyra Banks or J-Lo dye so much their hair, in a eurepean color, whereas they should have black hair and be proud of it? Why do they all choose European colors which cannot suit them (on a non-Eureopean girl, brown or blond is in NO WAY better tha green or pink, since it is in no way more natural)?
    Why can’t people appreciate beauty WITHOUT asking everyone to look whiter? Especially since the result makes them look like E.T., they are in no way better looking with these colors, who look soooo artificial on them.

    And this problem is the same in many countries: Japan, India, Brazil,…where all people want to be more ‘european’ instead of promoting their own beauty. Even in Iran, where woman have to wear a veil, they manage to have some bleach hair escape from their veils. =/
    Can you imagine the effect on people, especially young girls? “Not white enough to be pretty”, that’s what they see, althought no one would admit it openly. THey don not een realize that yes, these ‘changes’ are of course aiming at whitewashing them!

    And I feel anger, when I think of those many colour persons who could promote a different beauty, tell people that your colors are NOT what makes you look good…no, instead, they merely go on, they want to be those ugly fake blond creatures and don’t even mind if this can have terrible consequences.
    Just look for “hydroquinon” on the web, and you’ll see!

    My only hope is that more and more people will realize that something is wrong. Especially the many victims who unfortunately promote this ‘fashion’, abiding by its silly laws. In other words, colored people themselves, who should say “No” when they see one of them fllowing this ‘fashion’. If more told Rihanna or Mariah Carey that their look both ugly AND racist with this weird behaviour, I guess things would change quickly!

  13. brneyedgrrl
    brneyedgrrl01-16-2012

    I have a question: What is the percentage of these underrepresented races in the general population? According to my research, 64% of the population of the US is White (non-hispanic), 12% is Black, and 16% is Hispanic. So shouldn’t it follow that 2/3 of the ads would feature white women, and the other races should be represented accordingly? Am I missing something?

    • Holley
      Holley07-15-2014

      Yes, the point you have missed is that the 12% Black population and the 16% Hispanic population are being “corrected” in the media, particularly in advertising, to be LESS of a visual representation for those stated groups and MORE of a visual representation for the White (non-hispanic) category. Why should this be the case? Should it remain that way because, as you mentioned, according to your research 64% of the population of the US is White? …Or should it be perpetuated because one could argue that since most groups in America (including Blacks) are of a racial mixture that is of an Anglo genetic…then, of course, White depiction should be glorified more than any other race? That’s nonsense! As nonsensical as also believing that one ethnicity should have more positive prominence than any other. Like, if you were a German-American with blond, curly hair, fair skin and blue eyes…and most German-Americans looked very similar to you… Would you appreciate that the movies, the newspapers, the magazines, the commercial producers, and the website developers modify all images, if not the majority, of German-American celebrities/role models to look more like Italian-Americans who have brown, straight hair, tan skin and green eyes? I dare say that I think it would be reasonable to react with offense, especially if it was evident that those modification practices were across the board and constant.

  14. Jordan
    Jordan01-19-2012

    We’re told the grass is always greener. If you have pale skin, youre told to get a tan-real or fake, if you have darker skin they seem to be whitewashing. If you’re too fat lose weight, if you’re too thin, you need curves etc. We can’t win it seems. We need a culture of ‘LOVE YOURSRLF THE WAY YOU ARE’, not a culture of ‘forever criticise yourself for every major or minor detail’. There is, ultimately, no ideal, because everyone wants something different. I’m happy with who I am, but only since I decided to stop listening to what everyone else thinks is ‘perfect’.

    • Doly
      Doly01-30-2012

      @Jordan:

      You’re right,we’re always told to be perfect, whatever we are. Photoshop is used to make us think that a woman can be flawless, and this is wrong for anyone…

      Still, these is something more that people of color are told: to erase what is not ‘white enough’. A famous white actress will have to look pretty, thin and so on…but she can keep her dark brown hair, and brown eyes.
      A famous black girl will most often have to get straight hair, to dye it any color but black and sometimes to use color lenses…so many things her white counterpart won’t have to! She still has to be thin, perfect, and so on, but ALSO to whitewash herself.

      So yes, there is a difference. Non-white people are supposed to abide by silly white beauty criteria. Changing colors is a European fashion, this shouldn’t apply to the many people in this world which have black as their eyes and hair color.

      @brneyedgrrl:

      Well, the problem is not only to be represented, it also deals with HOW they are.
      To me, people like Mariah Racy, Beyonce or Rihanna are definitly NOT representing their ethnic group. It is quite the opposite: they are showing something fake, they are openly self-racist, telling their fellows that, even if this looks ugly their need a blond wig to succeed. :-(

      So being represented this way is to me far worse than not being represented at all, since what we see are not like us, they are aliens, impossible creatures.
      Because, if very few girls are tall, thin like models, still there ARE some. They are scarce but real.
      On the other, NO non-white girl could be naturally like what we see. They are as abnormal as if they showed pink hair.

      And the very idea of changing their colors is a white fashion, since this variety of color only exists in Europe, and was never promoted in non-white societies before.

      Today, on a blog, I posted a comment about those stupid supposed-to-be black dolls. Because, they ALL have pale brown eyes, and sometimes european-colored wig. Is it so wrong to show a doll with eyes and hair as black (and pretty) as the night??? What are we supposed to tell our children when they ask why the doll hasn’t REAL Black People’s eyes?

  15. NYC Liberal
    NYC Liberal01-30-2012

    USA has always been and will always be a white country. to try and pretend otherwise is to only engage is wishful thinking. whitey was here first.

    and guess what. Vikings were here before native americans. sux right ?

    • RL
      RL08-14-2012

      Hey Dick, here’s an idea. If you don’t agree with any of this, why in hell are you trolling on a website catering to women? Shouldn’t you be reading Maxim or Men’s Health, learning about “The Rules” so that you can pretend to have some hope that you don’t leave the bar alone AGAIN next Saturday night? But, who can blame you for being so silly. Your name is Dick, after all.
      And for NYC Libertine, the only thing you suck is Richard.

    • Mac
      Mac09-06-2012

      First. what is a white country? People aren’t white. I’ve never met a person who has the same complexion as snow. nor have I seen a person with skin like the night sky.
      Second. Vikings weren’t the first to live on north America, They only saw it first.
      Third. If the USA was always a white(?) country, then why did they bring slaves with them? Why allow immigrants? In elementary school you learn that you can’t turn in someone else’s homework, write you name on it, turn it in and it’ll be yours. The USA was built on the blood sweat and tears of EVERY ETHNICITY. Even before that the Native Americans had lived on this land. So if you wanna throw out technicalities double check your facts.
      Fourth. If you agree with the confused person who posted earlier that people should just go back to where they belong then sure why not? :) we can have everyone in North America take a DNA test, see which percentage of them is what ethnicity and send them back to their respective countries. NYC since you’re ethnicity is unknown to me I’ll guess you results are many mixed ethnicity, European is the one you may favor but you’ll probably have quite a bit of African in you, you know from living in you white(definition a : the absence of color b : of the color of new snow or milk; specifically : of the color white c : light or pallid in color <lips white with fear d : lustrous pale gray : silvery; also : made of silver.) country from so long. A lot of Caucasians in America have a percentage of African in them, from Female slaves being Raped, and later on from Mixed marriages. Since you probably have so many ethnicity in you, to be fair we might have to make you move from place to place during certain times. You know, Just to make sure we all go back to where we came from. Actually the only people who could remain are Native Americans.
      Lastly it was desperately wishful thinking to hope that with some half- assed research you'd convince the women/men here that America is a ,of the color of new snow or milk, country. but hey, Whatever works for you. Too bad about the Vikings. Sux right? :D

    • Kristy
      Kristy04-29-2013

      Nyc liberal, people crossed over the into North America around 25,000 years ago, seeing as to how the vikings didn’t live til around the 8th century I doubt it was them. True the people who came over the bering strait weren’t NATIVE to the land but they sure did get there before the vikings.

  16. Shazia
    Shazia02-01-2012

    Imazing

  17. Shazia
    Shazia02-01-2012

    Good

  18. Amy
    Amy03-17-2012

    There is only one small problem I have with the images used to show how pale some of the women appear, it’s the lack of knowledge on how these professional photo shoots work, especially the makeup that is used. I’m a makeup artist in Los Angeles, you comparing red carpet and live event images with photo shoot images. There are several factors you’re not considering. Artificial light is one, it tends to give the skin a much lighter tone. Second, much of the makeup used these days contains titanium and other ingredients that are used as sunscreen. When foundation/makeup, whether it’s used through airbrush and by and, with sunscreen is used on women of color you get a reflective element that causes the skin to look MUCH lighter than it would say in images from the REd CArpet or other such events. The makeup used for photo shoots and film is COMPLETELY different than the makeup used for live events. The actress/model/performer will also have their body covered in makeup everywhere their skin is exposed. This is why their body also appears lighter.

    Now im not saying that Vogue isnt lightening the skin and Im not saying they are, but there are also other reasons these beautiful woman appear lighter in the magazines. Trust me its not a conspiracy to make all women of color appear like white women, that is paranoid and delusional. God people act like we whitey folks just sit around and conspire “alright how are we going to make people of color less recognizable this year”. Do you think they really sit in their offices and say make that black girl lighter shes too damn dark, that’s just ridiculous and really insulting.

    There are PLENTY of of shows and magazine for PEOPLE of COLOR that have absolutely NO WHITE people in it at all. One of the reasons there is still racism is because of articles like this. It perpetuates the the problem and gets people on all sides pissed off and bitter.

    I see plenty of people of all races, creeds, religions working hand in hand every day in this business. Its not just a bunch of WHITE people making these desiccation, there are black, Hispanic, Asian, etc…..

    There is a HUGE beauty craze in China, BB Cream. It has skin whiteners in it as well as anti-aging and anti acne properties. Asian women are huge on lightening their skin, do you think its because of the Western Influence, doubtful. Guess what, BB cream has become a HUGE trend among celebrities of all colors.

    FYI – 50% of my book is women of color and we go out of our way to ensure they look natural.

    • Lisa
      Lisa04-25-2012

      For all your well thought out responses it sounds like BS…So you work in the industry that’s nice…….but it still sounds like BS…..You can explain away why they have light skin(not very convincingly) lol but not why all the black actresses have blonde hair??? i suppose that’s a trick of the light too?? LOL

      ANd we don’t think you conspire lol you just do what you’re told and don’t think for yourselves like half the population half the population you’re in good company then?

  19. Doly
    Doly03-18-2012

    Amy,

    It’s ok about the effects of lights in studios, but this only applies for skin color. What about hair and eyes? Do these artificial lights also change hair and eye color?
    Once again, people focus on skin, but avoid to speak about another aspect of this whitewashing fashion: eyes and hair. Since it is more common, some claim it is ok, but this is THE SAME as changing skin color. It is in no way more natural.

    You said this:
    “Trust me its not a conspiracy to make all women of color appear like white women, that is paranoid and delusional.”

    Well, just like no one tells models to be thinnest than thin, no one openly says that colored women must erase their blackness. Still, that’s what we see.

    You talk about magazines with NO white persons in them…ok, now show me one with NO whitewashed women in them. No fake blond or brown hair, no color lenses…can you find one in the USA?

    You also said that this very article is the cause of the problem…are you serious? You mean writing an article on the web FORCES women to dye their hair? So, they didn’t want to, but this article appeared and they were suddenly compelled to buy color lenses? Although we say the opposite, namely that they can be pretty AS people of color…
    Nope! They do because they accept when our society tells them to, and this makes them become self-racist as to their own beauty.

    One last point: what you say about China…bad example, since in this country, too, whitewashed beauty is growing: many Chinese women want round-shaped eyes, wear lenses and think (!) that they look better with this strange fake brown hair color.

    So, since you work with people of all origins, I hope you make anything possible to make them “look natural” as you say, and help them prove they can look great with a black skin, black eyes and hair. :)

  20. blackwomenofbrazil
    blackwomenofbrazil03-28-2012

    This article is not surprising; what IS surprising is how few people notice it! White beauty is indeed the norm so much so that people question when white women AREN’T on the cover. The funny thing is that this is also true in Brazil where some would say, Afro-Brazilians are the majority: http://tinyurl.com/7hallq4

  21. Linda
    Linda03-29-2012

    Why are black women portrayed as fat, I am african american and I am with a very thin build 5,3 and 113 pounds

    • YOU
      YOU05-03-2012

      @Linda

      I have no clue why black women are portrayed as fat. But, honestly I think black women are focusing on the wrong things. I do agree with the whole blonde hair, blue eyes, and skin lighting thing. However, I can’t help but think black people are so consumed with this idea that everything means white or trying to look white. For example straight hair. There are other races of women with straight hair, Indian and Asian hair is straighter than white people’s hair. I’ve just got done with reading an article about black models getting jobs because they have white features. And, no i’m not talking about blonde hair and blue eyes. This article associated thin noses and slim faces with being white. The problem I have with all of this is Black people need to realize black is a skin color. Not the way they talk, act, dress, and physically look as far as (Hair texture, Nose/Lip size, and Face structure.) The only way black are trying to look white is through blonde/ red and blue eyes. Because generally no other race has those features.

      • YOU
        YOU05-03-2012

        @Corrections/Revise

        “The only way black are trying to look white is through blonde/ red and blue eyes. Because generally no other race has those features.”

        I meant the only way black people are trying to look white is through blonde/ red hair and blue eyes. Because, generally no other race has those features.

      • Mac
        Mac09-06-2012

        Firstly black is not a skin color. It’s not because of these kinds of articles that any people are being racist. It’s because people say black or white. Noting is i black or white in real life. Not facts, not opinions and surely not people. If I have skin the color of mocha I’m black, If I have peach colored skin I’m white. No, no, no, It’s stupid and it portrays everything ignorant in our history and present.
        second I have never once thought of an my ethnicity of woman and thought fat. And yes, some African American people have their hair dyed, but others have hair naturally brown, or red. My mother was born with coppery hair and I was born with sandy brown hair. But my mom dyed her hair, and I’m supposed to get a rinse because black hair is more beautiful and will make my hair look healthier. People said my mothers hair looked weird, unnaturally, even though she came out of the womb like that an my hair looked unhealthy, dull, and dirt like. For a long period of time I wised my hair was black, and that I was skinnier, and that I was lighter. And what you said about Asians and Indian hair being straighter. I don’t pick up a magazine and see an Asian model or a model who look Indian, I see the Caucasian girls I went to school with, older and beautified. Most people don’t haven’t seen enough Asian or Indian models to be influenced by them. And about the big emphasis on Straightening hair in this article. African american women often put a chemical in their hair so that it will resemble the hair of those in media. This chemical, when used incorrectly is dangerous. a small amount of it can burn through a chicken to the bone.

  22. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth04-17-2012

    This is a great post, and thank you so much for this. I am African-American, and I agree with you. This is something that has bothered me for a very long time, and it has affected my self-esteem. However, even though this is true(that society hold women to a white ideal) it is extremely difficult to talk about because most people seem to either not notice or to not care. Also(this may sound odd) but I simple assumed that no white person would care about this issue since it inevitably works in his/her favor, but I suppose I was wrong. Thanks again for sharing. :)

    • Doly
      Doly05-11-2013

      Hi,

      I just wanted to let you know that not all white people are unaware of this nonsense. In fact, I am white: men usually find me pretty, and I look exactly like what ads ask us to look like: white, pale skinned, hazel eyes and curly light brown hair (all of this natural)…still, I do not accept this whitewashing fashion.

      I just don’t care if this “works in my favor”, it is the most dangereous form of racism nowadays and I cannot accept it.

      What is more, I have met people of various origins, women who were not white, who did not whitewashed themselves AND who were very pretty in their own way. It was just their beauty, according to their origins. If I ever tried to look like them, I would end up an alien. Just like colored women become when they try to look whiter.
      Even famous, they look weird: I never found Beyonce or J-Lo pretty since the first thing I think of when I look at them right now is that there is something wrong with their appearance. I see colors on them that I shouldn’t see. They could dye their hair blue, I would think the same.

      Each people has its own type of beauty, and even if I am looked at as prettier than a darker woman, I think there is something wrong about this all.

      But you’re right: it is hard to make people realise. When I tell people around me, they don’t understang why it shocking to show people who are openly trying to hide their colors (or to take European people’s). Probably because the medias keeps telling us that this is merely fashion. I also became aware of this when a friend from Senegal told me about whitening skin products, and that she was regarded as pretty because her skin was slightly lighter than taht of the other women of her family.

      Let’s hope that with time, more and more people will talk about it….

  23. Lori
    Lori05-08-2012

    I may be as pale as you get, but this really bothers me! Jennifer Hudsen looked way more beautiful looking like herself. I’m from California, and the imbalance in the media bothered me. Such as shows with ‘all white kids and maybe 1 black’ forget latinas until recently and asian, middle eastern, indian (both india and natives) unless they are there to be stereotyped. And especially taking place in areas that are known to be much more diverse like say CA. The eye surgery is common in Japan and their pop stars have european eyes which is silly. Why are women around the world buying into this crap? We as women are never satisfied I suppose. If it’s not judging each other for this ‘silly superficial thing’ it’s another. Why can’t more of us say- I’ll see the coolness of another women in her brains and skills? And be okay if I’m not the same as XY Z ideal.

    This runs both ways though, naturally pale people are expected to tan their skin artificially to be pretty.(and skin cancer causing) Both are stupid and run by the industries that gain from such ‘ideals.’

  24. Emily
    Emily05-08-2012

    This is a great article, and I very much agree with the point. And yet when I went to check out the resources, i.e. the sticky notes, I realized that all four girls are some variation of ‘white’. What’s up with that?

    • Maddie
      Maddie07-13-2012

      Hi Emily, two of the girls in the sticky notes are the founders, Lindsay and Lexie, which accounts for why two of the four are white. I know I’ve heard LIndsay and Lexie address this question before, and although I can’t remember enough of the details to give you anything helpful, I’m sure they would be happy to explain if you email them (I think it’s contact@beautyredefined.net).

      You might be interested in one of their most recent campaigns, where they invited women to submit pictures of themselves with the statement, “I am Beauty Redefined.” http://www.beautyredefined.net/are-you-beauty-redefined/ (Check out Beauty Redefined on Facebook to see the full album.) There is still a majority of white women here, too, but since BR was founded in Utah, which isn’t the most ethnically diverse area, that may have been reflected somewhat in the digital sphere as well (though the BR support base is definitely growing outward). I don’t at all represent Beauty Redefined (well, except for sending them my photo for the Facebook campaign), but being a regular reader and having heard them present, I believe them to be totally sincere about every word they write, and I believe they would listen to any constructive feedback not only with respect, but with an open mind and a desire to fix any issues that might be hampering their true message.

      The other thing to remember is that this post is one post in a blog with a more encompassing purpose. I still think you have a point about representation (and if I remember correctly, they agree with you already, hence their open invitation to represent Beauty Redefined), but since the point of this particular site is to combat media’s treatment of all women, I don’t think the sticky notes ring hypocritical the way they definitely would if the entire blog were dedicated to issues unique to women of color.

  25. Prion Indigo
    Prion Indigo05-11-2012

    ALL WOMEN ARE WOMEN OF COLOR!!!

    BLUE EYES OR RED HAIR IS A COLOR!!!

    AT LEAST BLACK WOMEN ARE IN THE MEDIA–BUT WHERE ARE THE NATIVE AMERICAN INDIGENOUS WOMEN??!!

  26. Suzanne
    Suzanne05-29-2012

    A few questions:

    1) What does the term “person of color” mean, actually? I am of Irish/Scottish heritage with hazel eyes, so I can assume I am not a person of color. My husband is Colombian, white, but not Caucasian, and darker than I. I think he would probably be considered a POC. Our biological daughter is lighter than both of us. Is she a person of color, although she is naturally lighter than I am?

    I find the term interesting for two reasons, first, that the term “of color” implies that someone without the distinction has no color. It is not only divisive, but unfair–that one group has something and the other does not.

    The Archie Bunkers of the last century used the terms “colored people” and “coloreds.” I believe those words were considered offensive, at least at some point. I was very young but I remember the phrase made me uncomfortable. How is the term “person of color” any different from that, other than colored is an adjective and the new term is a compound noun?

    I know I am not going to get anyone to stop using the phrase, but I have yet to hear a compelling, meaningful reason why that is a good universal term.

    2) In one response you said you would never say Hispanics and Latinas are the same thing. I thought they were.

    3) This was probably because you had limited space, and I do not think you were trying to be misleading by omitting it, but you should have tried to include the entire cover photo of Beyonce. While her torso looked very light, her legs in the photo were brown, substantially darker.

    • Layla
      Layla12-30-2013

      “People of Color” is kind of a catch all term for basically people who are not descendants of Europeans. Although there are many PoC’s in European countries – most of them emigrated from Asia, Africa, Central/South America, Middle East, Carribean or are indigenous people etc. It’s a complicated term since it’s not only about skin color, for example, I’m of Arab descent, and clearly not white, so I identify as a PoC but I have quite light skin . Yes the term ‘colored people’ in jim crow times was derogatory, but in modern times, increasingly, many PoCs have kind of reclaimed the term and for most people it really isn’t negative at all. Just a describer/identity. Also for a lot of people while it is a huge generalizer and an umbrella term, its convenient when you’re dealing with something that applies to people who are necessarily non-white. As far as I can tell, for you/your family, when there’s mixed heritage involved usually the person just has to decide for themselves how they identify, whether white or a PoC, but it can be problematic if the person appears to be completely white, because while their heritage could say something else, they definitely benefit from whats called ‘white-passing privilege’. (Different from plain old white privilege but should still be acknowledged). Lol this reply turned out way longer than I expected. So idk race/identification is all very complex. There’s a lot of good scholarship and perspectives out there though so if you’re still confused you can always do a little research.

      • Melchior67
        Melchior6705-28-2014

        And many people in Latin America orginally come from Europe! And why all the emphasis on skin color anyway??

  27. courtney
    courtney05-30-2012

    This was a really great piece on the industry changing, not changing, and “if you cant beat’em join’em.” But I had a question of why Jennifer Hudson was in this article. Sure every one should feel sexy no matter what size you are, yes a woman who is a size 16 can look and feel sexy but the side effects that come along with it—-high blood pressure-high cholesterol-and so on—-that’s not sexy—i don’t see a woman trying to conform to a white sisters but a woman who’s just trying to be healthy.

  28. CJ
    CJ06-12-2012

    I can sympathize to an extent with how people of color feel pressure from the media to “look whiter.”. Problem is, a Caucasian can be considered too white. I feel self-conscious about my very light skin, and still hear remarks about looking “bad” because of it. Whites are all supposed to be tan now, ethnicity be damned. Why do I have to make myself a fake color to be okay?

    • Carla
      Carla10-07-2012

      Why are whites supposed to be tanned while we people of colour are pressured by the media to look whiter?

      • Doly
        Doly12-22-2012

        @Carla:
        Well, the point is, white people are not asked to change their skin color. At least, not the way you’re suggesting.

        A friend of mine has a very fair skin, and her only real problem is to be protected against the sun. But no one ever said anything like “she needs to sunbathe”. No one ever told her she was too fair to be pretty.

        White people are not asked to change their appearance for real, unlike colored people. Most often, tan is just a summer fashion: “get a tan to show everyone how healthy you are (also, show them you can afford exepensive holidays somewhere in a southern country)”.

        Whereas colored people are not “fashionnable”, in no season. Even in summer, a Black girl will be implicitly told something like “you look great, but…with a European-colored wig, you’ll be even better”.
        Which is both wrong (she can’t look better with European attributes, she will merely look weird), AND racist (beauty isshown as the prerogative of white-skinned women, not only for their skin but also because their eyes and hair are not black).

        It is often saif that people are after what they don’t have. The grass is greener elsewhere…but with this dangerous whitewashing fashion, it doesn’t work: no blonde fashion model will complain about her skin, eyes and hair color. Whereas even a beautiful Black model will understand very quickly (like Tyra Banks, who spoke about this phenomenon) that her natural african hair is a “problem”.

        You should take a look at an interesting documentary: “the new racist paradigm”. The first half deals with this silent whitewashing fashion.

        • SilverRain
          SilverRain04-04-2013

          I know I’m coming to this late, but I have very fair skin and people mock me ALL THE TIME for it. As should be clear by how much people spend on tanning products.

  29. Chanel
    Chanel07-03-2012

    I’ll be blunt. This made me feel sick to my stomache. This article was very informative and sobering. What the black women do to make themselves look Europian is aweful. Now I know why there are no ebony colored people in the media. The darkest skin color I have seen is just like the color of ebony wood. The first time I have seen it is a few years ago in the Olympics. There were quite a few athletes from African countries with ebony skin. Later I went to school in Alburquerque, with a greater exposure to black people. Some of the black people were dark enough to be ebony. I really like that color, because it is beautiful and exotic. I’m not saying that it is any better than lighter skin tones. It is just nice to have it there for better variety. Unfortunatly ebony would be considered undesirable by the strict eurocentric beauty standards. That is probably why I practicly never see it in the media. Black celebrities tend to be a bit lighter, more of a chocolate brown. It is dreadful that some of them have to be lighter. Maybe I am being overly idealistic here. However I think a person should be happy with whatever colors (skin, hair or eyes) they were born with. They should not try to change it to conform to such a crooked and racist beuty standard. There is a great rich variety in human color, and that should not be restricted.

  30. cole
    cole07-06-2012

    Fantastic, eye-opener. I don’t know if it was your photoshop page or another I was looking at today, but there’s a picture of Kim Karsdashian where even she is lightened. My understand is that some of her dark and gorgeousness is her Armenian roots, but it’s not that noticeable. Even not-quite-pale isn’t light enough now?

  31. May
    May07-16-2012

    To Ms. Kite:

    You’re a great writer and I quite enjoyed the succession of ideas on this topic. Kudos for a
    job well done and I hope to read more by you in the future!

  32. sandy
    sandy08-12-2012

    I would like say JOB WELL DONE!!! I also would like to say that if you look at pics of black women from the 60′s and 70′s 80′s and todays pics you would notice how at one time that BLACK WAS BEAUTIFUL and still is BEATUIFUL epecially in the 60′s and 70′s where most black women were weiring NATURAL hair skin tones were natural and we had our OWN beauty standards we loved our natural hair with hair styles like braids,the bush/natural etc with no weaved in hair or lighteners and if you straightened your hair there was no need to weave in hair we as black people have lost tuch with our selfs and forgotten where we came from! we have been conditioned through the media to beleve that white beauty is normal for a race of people with naturally curly hair we also been conditioned through the media to think that our natural Black skin and hair is ugly and white skin and hair is beautiful. thats where skin bleachinging comes from by thinking that if you are as the old saying go’s ” light bright and damn near white ” it will get you a better Jobs and etc by looking at these pics it takes you back to the 30′s 40′s and 50′s where if you were black and on stage singing you had a brightest of light shined in your face to make your appearance look as if you were the lightest skined black person! looking at these pics it’s like looking at an ad saying ( “why be beautiful and black when you could be white like us get straight blonde hair blue eyes bleach your skin and even pay a sergeant change your whole appearance it won’t cost you a thing”) but in the long run it comes with a price that will be dearly paid!!! look at what happend to some black celebritys and other people that have tried to follow the so called white beauty standerds!!! Michael Jackson went from a hansome black man and tranceformed him self in to a white man only to pay dearly for it !!! CASE AND POINT!!

    • Nina
      Nina10-27-2013

      Sandy, your reference to Michael Jackson is wrong.
      You said, ” Michael Jackson went from a hansome black man and tranceformed him self in to a white man only to pay dearly for it !!! CASE AND POINT!!” This is not true and is hardly, as you put it, “!!! CASE AND POINT!!”

      Michael Jackson had a skin disease called vitiligo that he said he had on numerous occasions while he was alive, in fact he had universal vitiligo, which affects the majority of the affected person’s body. Most people know this, it was confirmed in his autopsy report…so sad he had to die for some to believe him and sadly it is evident that a few still don’t or just refuse to believe it.

      Yes, he suffered a great as a result of having vitiligo and not because he “transformed himself”. He not only had to suffer with the fact that he was changing in color and he had no control over it…in front of the whole world, he also had to face the disbelief, ridicule and mocking of not just the media but of a good deal of the public. Most, if not all those afflicted do suffer greatly as it is a very demoralizing experience that one has no control over.

      He did not however, try to deny his identity as so many accused him of. Anyone who really knows his music, his life, his actions, would know this. He said repeatedly, both privately and publicly, that he was proud to be black and of his heritage. I also don’t think his changing his nose, albeit drastically, means that he wanted to deny his race either. Anyone who knows his story, would know that he was very self conscious of it because his father and brothers teased him mercilessly when he was growing up, calling him “big nose”. Once he had this done, he later found out he had discoid lupus, which eats your skin and scar tissue, which is a whole other subject.

      I just had to comment on what you said because it is not true and I am tired of seeing him used as an example which does not apply.

      • Raine
        Raine12-17-2013

        Wow , I just read your statement , it was so very informative , I always believed that Michael Jackson had the disease that changed his skin , but I always sort of thought he liked becoming lighter and lighter .
        I never knew that his Brothers and Father teased him because of his very full nose .
        Thank you so much for sharing.

  33. Morgan
    Morgan08-21-2012

    I think as long as America of color continues to uplift each other in our communities…it won’t matter what anyone else thinks. We need to continue supporting African, Asian, and Latino/Hispanic American films and businesses. Once all OUR money leaves mainstream businesses/media…they WILL take notice. Nothing screams change more than money withdraw!!! Ask Tyler Perry, Micro Tech founders, Patel Consultants Corp., i.e. The list continues…we will be heard and noticed! Like White America has included other races or white ethnic groups maybe, we should take a page from them and combine our cultural/economic resources! Wouldn’t that be scarry!! LOL

  34. Tom
    Tom08-24-2012

    I would like to refer back to a comment made earlier, that brought in the fact of other cultures being subject to “whitewashing”. Cultures such as India and China(far-east in general) has esteemed fairness a sign of beauty. The modern cosmetic products that are offered gives evidence to these trends. No doubt, America and the west in general have impacted greatly the perceptions of beauty in these cultures. But I dont understand how the statement can be made that this phenomenon of the appraisal of fairness can be attributed SOLELY to the manipulation(be in explicit or covert) of a “white culture”. I dont think anyone is going to claim that white culture has a monopoly on beauty in cultures including india, china, japan, korea (almost all of asia). Can you merely pass if off as “whitewashing” that these cultures prefer fairness? Dont you think these cultures have a right to defined their own standards of beauty? Fairness has been a prevalent beauty standard in many cultures in the world, prior to european expansion on the globe. Maybe seperating these two concepts “WHITENESS” and “FAIRNESS” will help the discussion

    • Doly
      Doly05-11-2013

      Hi, Tom,

      I thing you’re talking about my post: yes, other cultures had this fondness for fairness for ages…but your comment seems rather naive.

      Indeeed, they have cultural reasons to prefer fairness…but for the skin only!
      And when you walk in a big city of Japan or China today, what do you see? Many people (women mainly, but not only) dying their hair a european color. What does this have to do with their old traditionnal preference for fair skin? Nothing, it is a most recent fashion, and clearly aiming at being more “european-like” although they will never admit it open.

      Worse, I think some of them do not realize, talking about fashion, unaware that the very idea of changing their hair color is a european idea.

      So it seems to me that traditions have nothing to do with what we see now. Maye they have melted their ol preference into this racist fashion, but is cannot explain it all.

  35. a voice
    a voice08-30-2012

    when are people going to admit that testosterone and evolution means that black beauty is rare and usually only occurs in mixed race. It’s not a conspiracy, it’s just reality. Cruel but true.

    • Lucky
      Lucky09-21-2013

      That’s like saying that due to testosterone and evolution, white men are seemingly less masculine than Black men. The sword cuts both ways.

  36. J'ara Ami
    J'ara Ami09-02-2012

    I think it is disgusting how dark skinned women are more often than not digitally edited to look lighter in order to fit the ideal of the western socierty. I think the media is too polluted with ignorant and racist people.

    I wrote my own short post on the subject here: Hi Vogue I’M WHITE NOW: Is the mainstream media RACIST? ht.ly/doK7Y

  37. Mac
    Mac09-06-2012

    Beauty is in the Eye of the beholder. There’s a poem by Maya Angelou that I like, It’s called, “Seven Womens Blessed Assurance” and even though it isn’t about color, It’s about beauty. I get self conscious, especially around people who I feel are prettier than me. But beauty is just an outward appearance.Makeup, Corsets, Dyes, Polishes, Are deceiving. For my appearance Take me as i am or not at all. I’m not saying not to pay any attention at all to how you look. There’s nothing wrong with me showing my best, as long as it my best, and not what a magazine tells me what the best is. ” I am not my hair, I am not my skin, I am the soul that lives with in. inside I am a treasure in itself, I am the most beautiful beauty because I can always improve that aspect of me.
    When I die people won’t talk about how good/bad I looked in those red heel I wore, or how I could stand to lose more than a few pounds. They won’t talk about my hair, or my body. Not my skin color or eye color. They’ll talk about what kind of person I was. They’ll talk about that time when I made them laugh after a bad day or when I took notes for them and visited them when they were sick. they won’t talk about my outward beauty, but the beauty inside . A body is a gift from God and I did nothing to create it. I have nothing to be proud, or ashamed of when it comes to my looks. he loves me the way I am and anyone worthwhile will feel the same. I’ll look inside them and feel the same about them.
    when someone finds love they shouldn’t look for eye candy. They should look for someone who, in their nineties, will make them laugh and will talk with them and sit with them on the bench in the park and tease the younger people. Someone who sees my inner beauty and appreciates it and someone who I do the same. Every soul can be beautiful. If you look inside at you own, if you look at others you will see the most beautiful thing on this planet, if you look closely enough, you’ll find the best thing known to mankind.

  38. Sarah
    Sarah09-28-2012

    This is why I no longer support these beauty magazines. :|

    Tbh I was wondering a while back why Beyonce was starting to look “white”. I feared it may be skin bleaching…

  39. Richard
    Richard09-30-2012

    Actually I think what is really happening is a much more general tendency to try and drown out the natural look regardless of race. maybe this is a British thing, but you see many women here who go for the tanned/bronzed look, and will spend their time covering themselves in fake tan or exposing themselves to potentially dangerous quanities of UV radiation on sunbeds to get that look- whereas they might will be naturally light or fair-skinned. In previous ages the fashion was for light-coloured skin (at least amongst upper-class ladies as it showed they didn’t have to work), which I think still predominates in, say, Indian culture and it’s far more rooted in their own history than one of European colonialism.

    Look at the bottom pictures of Beyonce or Rihanna on the magazine cover. Neither of those pictures displays women with fair skin- it appears tan or bronzed. Also, note the bleach-blonde/blonde wig look. Even white women with darker hair often bleach it blonde for some reason (perhaps it works for other colours, but it’s there).

    So, I think it has less to do with non-’white’ people wanting to look “white”, as much as some raceless, obviously artificial-looking fashion which avoids showing the nautral beauty of whatever ethnicity they belong to or what features they naturally possess. Racist? Possibly, but against ALL races.

  40. Richard
    Richard09-30-2012

    (Well, the above comment is my surmise anyhow. I may be wrong.)

  41. Te-Shandra Haskett
    Te-Shandra Haskett10-16-2012

    I do not know what to think of this, except tha it is very sad, and I really feel bad for all of the beautiful girls who do not look like that. This really trigggers and hurts their self-esteem. Check this out. This was a big article that kind of goes along with this philosophy.

    http://www.redefiningthefaceofbeauty.com/2012/08/response-to-abc-newsgood-morning.html

    Thanks for sharing!

  42. LR
    LR10-17-2012

    Even ads also feature white men and whitewash colored men, thus making men feel bad about themselves and committing violent crimes, especially against women. Insecure men are very violent.

  43. Adun Toridas
    Adun Toridas12-01-2012

    Hi Everyone,
    I’ve been thinking about this whole under-representation thing for a while and it is really quite a shame. I’m an African-American man and, to be honest, I have always believed that white women were, by far, the most attractive “race” of women. I was raised to think that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and that if it just so happened that I loved white women, that was just MY TASTE. MY PREFERENCE. Heck, I had gotten into multiple arguments with different black women, trying to explain to them why long, straight hair was the best way to go. Sigh…

    Fast forward a few years and I realize I was such a fool. After spending my entire childhood and teenage years watching movie after movie, tv show after tv show, with nothing but white women as leads / hottest girls in school / rewards for white male protagonists saveing the universe / femme fetale, etc. it dawned on me that I was just one of many sheep. It’s bad enough that I bought into it. What really sucks is suddenly finding out that my very perception of beauty, my judgement, my desire, had been painstakingly crafted by the media for years. I felt manipulated. I felt so dirty. I can’t even look at magazine covers and billboards the way I used to. I get put off by the fact that they are just meant to deceive.

    But there is a bright side to every crappy tale. I go out on the street today and I see nothing but a ton of extremely attractive women of color. It’s like someone flipped a switch. I’ve come to see kinky, curly hair as extremely attractive; like something I would love to run my fingers through, not something to be “fixed.” But sadly, none of these women will ever get a shot at prime time tv. Why? Simply because they are not “white” enough. It’s not that they aren’t beautiful enough. It’s just that they aren’t “white” enough. Period.

    I wish that more people were aware of what is going on. Please, the next time that someone says “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” remind them that it isn’t. Your “eye” has been trained to accept only a certain type of beauty, white beauty. And I think it goes for both women and men. This site may be geared towards women, but the same distortions apply. White men are constantly portrayed as the ‘best type of man life has to offer.’ Where does that leave the rest of us colored men? I guess we’re only good for being funny, athletic, butlers, etc. Boyfriends? Why get a colored dude when you could just get Brad Pitt instead?

    The whole thing is big sham. Please spread the word.

  44. Kevire
    Kevire12-26-2012

    Good article.

    I live in the UK and this is a MAJOR problem in Pakistani,Indian&Bengali Culture. Girls have immense pressure to look white and fair skinned. (There is also a lot of pressure on boys to have ‘white’ skin and features, but not as much) I have seen this affect my friends self esteem levels. Indian Bollywood actresses such as the VERY European looking ‘perfect Indian ideal beauty’ Ashwaira Rai do not help atall, nor to the other Bollywood actresses who all look fairly European. This has become increasingly stronger as we move into 2013.

  45. Trixie T
    Trixie T03-04-2013

    Wonderful, and troubling, read. I was watching a favorite show the other day, Psych. We noticed that although one of the main (male) characters is black, all of the women of color that have been his love interests, or even his own sister, have had straightened hair, and light skin with typically white features. They are offering up women of color in that romantic role, but only if they look like dark versions of white girls. I see this all the time in the industry. I can’t even remember a time when I’ve seen a woman with more traditional facial features, or anything other than an underweight and curveless figure. It’s sad. Men in the entertainment and media industry are free to retain their dark skin color, and have features that are consistent with their race, and are considered handsome leading men. But it’s not the same for women.

  46. 4thStar
    4thStar03-19-2013

    Great article; I only discovered this website today, but I love it. I’ll be checking other articles now.

    Btw, I am always reminded of this song when I see articles about this :)

  47. Diana
    Diana03-27-2013

    So true, in East Asia, makeup can be used to make their skin more whiter, aka less yellow tint in their skin by applying a purple tinted cream. You see this in the media in India too, by making their skin more “European” color. I don’t know why, but it feels like almost all of the India media only show white-looking women, instead of their usual skin color tint.

  48. Jeanette
    Jeanette04-04-2013

    I am tired of seeing white versions of women. Years ago, I did not mean to but I reprogrammed myself by not looking at the media versions of women and focused on myself. In time I began to appreciate my “non-white” body and hair. Now the media versions of women look funny to me.

  49. felicia
    felicia04-18-2013

    @YOU
    You obviously dont know anything about black people do you. We dont naturaly have lighter skin or straight hair or blue eyes. Usually these features are found more in multiracials or creaole, not the average black person in america. Yes some times i want to be lighter do to america success and opportunitys are given to people with western features .Beauty ideal is still eruopean. I dont want to blame myself anymore. Its the system fault.

  50. felicia
    felicia04-18-2013

    @ jeanette thank you girl you are amazing . I wanted to do same thing lately not focus on the media to find who i really am. I thought the idea was crazy because i was a big beyonce fan. Now that i know there more people like me feeling what iam feeling. Im more convenice to step away from the media ,and surround myself with things that look good. I still want to stick up to the media because i want to see women like myself,but i refuse to keep quiet.

  51. Becki
    Becki04-21-2013

    I am late to this post, but stumbled upon it while reading body image articles. I am not a fan of the term white ideal as it seems to infer an inherant racism in all white women, something thankfully not true. Though I am white, my body type is far from the stereotypical definition. I am much more of that “thick” description in the post and even had one of my girlfriends accuse me of wearing “bootypop” underwear! Wouldn’t it be great if we recognized that beauty doesn’t need a standard?

    I am very blessed that my close group of girlfriends is quite multicultural and as such we are able to have fantastic dialogue about race, culture and the like on the rare occasions it comes up. Truth is, we rarely think about those differences because what we have in common predominates! We hate our thighs, we have to be cheering squads for each other and now go together as support for mammograms, we have decided we are going to walk a 10k to improve our health and we hate that birthdays keep happening! I couldn’t imagine having better, or more beautiful, friends. It saddens me that we modify pictures to achieve a false ideal regardless of race rather than celebrating the fact our unique looks are beautiful, again, regardless of race.

  52. Kai Cervera
    Kai Cervera05-17-2013

    I am doing a history project on the effect of media on women of color.
    I think that this feeling of inferiority has been ingrained in women of color since the beginning of time. Women of color have always wanted to have lighter skin, or straighter hair, or smaller noses and lips and bodies since before slavery. We relax our hair to look more “White” and we wear make up that makes our skin lighter. Toni Morrison wrote a novel entitled The Bluest Eye in which she spoke about desperately wanting blues eyes and blonde hair to make her beautiful. There have been hundreds of studies where girl of color is allowed to choose between a Black doll and a White doll and nine times out of ten she chooses the White doll because “she’s prettier.” I think that to rid this feeling we would have to erase history itself. Television shows, movies and magazines are not going to make women of color feel beautiful. Beauty comes from the inside and as soon as woman of color realize that and accept themselves for who they are than they will no longer feel inferior.
    This article just proves that the subliminal messages of being “white” have been so deeply ingrained in us as a human race and have skewed our minds so much that we no longer have a rational definition and perception of beauty.Thank you for you article it was both powerfully written and and amazingly accurate.

    • Doly
      Doly06-15-2013

      @Kai Cervera:

      Thanks for the post.
      Indeed, we have been told for ages that “white is the best”. Even today, I found so many silly posts on forum, from colored people talking about wearing color lenses and claiming it would look natural on them. Are they THAT blind??? They also claim that they are NOT trying to look whiter…how weird that they do want white features but claim they don’t want white features. This is nonsense. Or hurt pride, maybe!

      Some even said that some in their families had natural blues eyes. Suddenly, hald of African-american people have turned blued eyed according to them! Of course, these are lies: in real life, such people are very scare (I met only ONE in my life, although I travelled a lot). They say so not to admit that yes, they are all after white beauty. They somehow try to “hide” the unnatural aspect of their whitewashing process claming lies. This makes me feels so sad for them.

      .
      Whitewashing is terrible, because those who promote it are not aware of what they are showing, especially to their own children. A little girl will of course take the white doll…because she sees her mother, aunts, and adult around her doing “small changes” that tend to make them closer to white beauty ideals. I even noticed that most colored dolls are also whitewashed: their skin tone is never very dark, their hair are sometimes brown (what the heck?!?) and the eyes almost always brown (instead of a natural black).
      How could they grow to love their own non-white appearance after years being told that white features are better?
      .
      I recently noticed that a neighbour of mine, fro North Africa, wears blue lenses. I couldn’t tell her it looks horrible on her (I cannot be that rude, and she might even think I am racist, whereas SHE is racist toward herself)…but I feel uncomfortable with whitewashed people. A colleague fro Sri Lanka also wear blue lenses, everyone think she looks like an alien, but no one tells her.
      How come they do not see that it doesn’t suit them? How come they do not realise that they are openly showing they are ashamed of not being white, scandinvian-like?

      Should we ban color lenses, hair dying products, skin bleaching cream, to have people at last accept themselves and create their own beauty standards? This may sound harsh, but sometimes I think this would be the only way to stop this silly “racist fashion”…

  53. Matt
    Matt06-10-2013

    Why are latin women referred to as women of color lol? They’re not colored. They’re brown to white, but colored? They’re more caucasian than colored.

    • Doly
      Doly06-15-2013

      @Matt:
      Latin women ar refered to as “colored” because they do not look quite like European women. Because of History, most have mixed origins which make them looks slightly darker.
      Also, you should notice that white people from some South America countries (such as Argentina) are not refered to as latinos but simply as white people.

  54. biancaL
    biancaL07-01-2013

    you know what REALLY grinds my gears, the word “black”. there is literally NOTHING about me that is effing black! the use of that word to describe a race of predominately BROWN people is disgusting & as equally degrading ! you don’t call Asians yellow! or Hispanics light brown! we are AFRICAN AMERICAN. & this website is full of shit.

    • Lily
      Lily07-17-2013

      People are using the term “White” too…

  55. Gabourey
    Gabourey07-16-2013

    I did not know that was beyonce in the last pic. I thought it was a white lady. SMH…

  56. Gerry Dorrian
    Gerry Dorrian09-03-2013

    I couldn’t believe that last photo of Beyoncé. Are PR-men and digital manipulators succeeding where white supremacists, thankfully, failed?

  57. Hannah
    Hannah10-16-2013

    I read your blog entry and thought it was very interesting. This is not only an issue concerning America. it’s everywhere.
    The problem is: In a globalized world we have globalized media and beauty standards. Even in Europe, black people wear wigs or straighten their hair. It affects Asians as well They whiten their skin, have surgery for a leaner face, longer legs and rounder eyes… But it also affects typical “Caucasian” women like me: pale, with a flat butt and small lips, girls like me might have been considered normal a hundred years ago, but in the present time, these features make a woman extremely undesirable. So we work out hoping to get bigger butt or buy push up panties, get injections for larger lips and use the tanning bed at least once a week.

    Today’s beauty standards are a mixture of everything – “white” hair and eyes, “black” or “hispanic” luscious curves, “asian” delicacy… and a tan skin which is neither white nor black. Of course, everything at once. A standard impossible to meet. So we spend all of our money to change, because money is what all this is about.

  58. Embrace Truth
    Embrace Truth11-05-2013

    I’m tired of this ruination of beauty ideals, because so many are based on white supremacist views. With the decline of “whiteness” as an ideal, as the grip of white supremacy is loosened worldwide, more people are apt to embrace the natural beauty of their origins. White as right has been so brutally ingrained in all of us, that there’s not a clean break to escape it, any time soon. Advertisers, corporations, international beauty denizens, all equate health, wealth, intelligence and attractiveness with European esthetics. I don’t find Caucasian beauty ideals appealing AT ALL, because I equate “whiteness” with historical mischief, misguidance, and appalling deviance.

    As far as desirability of women who are non-white, It’s no wonder men who aren’t white spend such a significant amount of effort devaluing women of their own background; white men have always been objectifying white women, and many men seeking power and influence want to imulate those actions and preferences.

  59. Kellz
    Kellz01-22-2014

    When I hear the words “Go back to your own country.” I think it’s so biased. I’m a mutt mixed with Native, Black, and White. My origin is in America, I no other country that is “mine” than to be here.

  60. Ayanna Nahmias
    Ayanna Nahmias01-28-2014

    This is an excellent post!! It seems as if this issue continues to be largely ignored, especially since it has become part of the African-American culture to wear weaves. Nothing wrong with weaves, as I myself wear them, but for me it is a choice, not a necessity. The root of this problem lies within the entertainment and fashion industry which by and large forces women of color to adopt this more ‘acceptable’ appearance, versus allowing us the freedom to move seamless between our natural beauty and our transformed selves. I appreciate that you took the time to address this issue.

    As for comments regarding “Go back to your own country,” I agree with Kellz. This is an ignorant statement because America was stolen from the indigenous population and colonized by immigrants. We could just as easily tell all people in America to go back to their countries of origin and it would make just as much ‘nonsense.’

    That said, this is an issue of objectification and lack of acceptance of women for who and what we are, which is beautiful, diverse, and uniquely made and attractive.

    Best,

    Ayanna Nahmias

  61. Rosie
    Rosie03-14-2014

    I hope I can say all of this correctly without offending anyone. While I admire what Beauty Redefined stands for, I feel that there is an error here. Even today’s politically correct terms, like “colored,” are inherently racist. From a biological standpoint, races don’t exist. The many different skin pigmentations we see in the world are the result of an enzyme called melanin, which is the body’s natural sunscreen. For more information on melanin, Nina Jablonsky, a biological anthropologist, explains different skin pigmentations from an evolutionary standpoint:

    http://www.ted.com/talks/nina_jablonski_breaks_the_illusion_of_skin_color?language=en

    From a Christian religious standpoint, God made everyone the way they are, and He is perfect, and therefore everything He created is perfect. What society creates is often anything but. Racism has served a purpose for many hundreds, even a couple thousand, years to keep power and prestige held firmly in the hands of a few, limiting access to rights and resources based on arbitrary guidelines and superficial characteristics. Terrible doesn’t even cover it. And the battle rages on. The culturally-construed and incorrect notions of race allow us to classify those who look differently externally as “other” than ourselves, put them into stereotypical boxes, even dismiss them as human beings, or at least as intelligent human beings who deserve respect. We think, after the civil rights movement, that we’ve come so far and gotten so much better, and in some respects we have, but in many others we’re completely lacking. Our norms still adhere to a sort of mental segregation, even though we’re using different words to perpetuate the racism. Which brings me to my point: “colored” is one such example. We’re ALL colored! What we call “white” is actually a huge group of people who come in differing shades of pinks, peaches, tans, even bright reds when those with super-pale pigmentation who don’t produce enough melanin are out in the sun too long. It’s a vast spectrum. An equally vast spectrum of pigmentation is what we consider “black” or “colored.” What the word “colored” really does is keep us in the “them (colored)” versus “us (non-colored)” boxes. As with unrealistic beauty ideals, the way to change begins by spreading the word, which is why I’m writing this. We can and should make the world a better place where women are celebrated for what they think, feel, and accomplish, rather than the size of their waist, the shade of their skin, or any other aspect of appearance. We can build a society where people of all sexes, nationalities, and phenotypical (visible) traits respect each other as equals, and genuinely share the bond of friendship, even sisterhood and brotherhood. Obviously, I’m an idealist, but I’m going to keep hoping and working for it.

    P.S. Lest anyone think that I’m trying to take away their identity with my “race does not actually exist” stance, I recognize that many are justly proud of their heritage, and the concept of race is to some a basis of group identity, affiliation, and social cohesion. Anthropologists prefer the term ethnic background, which, although often used as a synonym for race, is a term referring to cultural, national, or tribal affiliation, rather than a sociopolitical construct that is mistakenly thought to be based in biology. We do have very differing ethnicities and belief systems, which is a beautiful thing that should be admired and celebrated. We can respect and value other’s opinions and beliefs without jeopardizing our own; and we should. End of soap box.

    • Els
      Els04-20-2014

      You’ve completely missed the point. I agree that, in a perfect world, race would not matter. In a perfect world, magazines would stop limiting the amount of non-white models they used to a couple or less on a regular basis, the media would stop portraying black women as violent and aggressive and Asian women as hyperfeminised submissive stereotypes, and so on.

      But the fact is, race already has been *made to* matter. Centuries of slavery and colonialism *have* ensured that your race often makes a different to the way you’re treated. As this article itself highlights.

      Ignoring race-related problems doesn’t make them go away, any more than shutting one’s eyes and saying “The sky is green” a hundred times will make it turn green. And why are you directing these comments at the people of colour (a term, btw, used by *several* anti-racist blogs, and not one me or any other POC I know find problematic) trying to deal with bias against them rather than the people actually being biased against them?

      The damage has already been done re: race. Idealising is all very well, but insisting that if people “don’t see race” everything will magically be fine is naive. From your post, I can guess pretty well that you are not a person of colour. You haven’t dealt with the inequalities we have to face on a daily basis – and I live in a supposedly “progressive, liberal, politically correct” country. The soapbox is not yours to take, so step off it.

      From your position of privilege as someone who’s faced this, adopting the attitude that you know best is downright rude. Although I appreciate that you say you didn’t mean to be offensive, you then went on to write a rather offensive post, which kills the point completely. With all due respect, I suggest you Google race-related issues in the future before aiming to speak on them. You can’t try to speak over people who do face these equalities. That’s just not on.

      http://thisiswhiteprivilege.tumblr.com

      Racism was not caused by people of colour choosing to “see race.” And it won’t be dealt with by people choosing to “not see race,” either. It’s all very convenient to argue that “if we ignore racial problems they’ll just go away” when you do not have to deal with them yourself.

      • Rosie
        Rosie05-07-2014

        Thank you very much for the insight. I am sorry I offended.

  62. Jay
    Jay03-29-2014

    The issues of feminism and race have always interested me, and this is one example, but as a WHITE person I feel I can’t talk about them or ask questions…I don’t know how, I don’t know where to look without needing input of women of color on what the real issues are, and I don’t know how to talk about it without being called racist or my privilege being an issue.

    • Els
      Els04-20-2014

      Two good sites for doing so:

      http://racismschool.tumblr.com/101IntrotoRacism

      http://thisiswhiteprivilege.tumblr.com/

      Friendly protip: don’t make conversations re: race all about you. Being called a racist, while not a term I’d recommend anyone throw around lightly, is not 1% as bad as actually having to face racism. TBH, in reality 99% of the time when someone says they shouldn’t have been called racist they actually are.

      Obviously, if you go onto an anti racist blog and try to make race-related conversations all about you and your POV as a white person, people will get annoyed. Be respectful, don’t try to speak all over people, and *don’t* try to make it all about you (not saying you will, but a lot of people do this on spaces targeted at people of colour) and you shouldn’t have a problem :)

      • AbsolutGrndZer0
        AbsolutGrndZer004-21-2014

        Thank you for those links, I am white (95% at least) but I support equality, and seeing what magazines do to these beautiful women to make them look more like me? What, the magazines think I want that? I hope I am not coming off in saying this way as racist, if I am I apologize but I truly believe that all races, all colors, are beautiful and that magazines have to “white-wash” darker skinned women annoys me, I can’t even imagine what the actual races being ‘white-washed’ feel. As for what you said about “99% of the time when someone says they shouldn’t be called racist they usually are” I can say I 100% agree. I’ve been called racist, and my go to isn’t “No I’m not” it’s to take another look at what I said, and try to figure out why I was called racist. Then, try to change it in the future.

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