By: Natasha Archary
Thigh gaps, small waist, lean legs, full lips, big butt, big breasts, light skin, long hair, no cellulite, no stretchmarks…who gets to decide what makes a woman beautiful? Just as soccer is said to unite the world, so too has the blonde haired, blue-eyed, perky breasted, long-legged, small bottomed stereotype become the “standard” for beauty. Not just in the West but the trend is picking up in India, Japan and the Middle East.
Models are chosen based on the complexion of their skin. Adverts for skin lightening products are pushed onto a market that has naturally darker skin. Driving the narrative that Indian men don’t marry unless the girl is light skinned. You even have lines in Bollywood movies that echo these sentiments.
“Buddy, she’s so fair your kids will look Caucasian.”
As if this is a thing you have to strive to achieve. Because heaven forbid your kids are born with dark skin. Campaigns for beauty brands with Indian models were shunned for photoshopping Bollywood actresses to look white. Forcing models to use blue contact lenses because their eyes didn’t stand out enough during the shoots.
A scary trend is becoming increasingly popular in Japan, involving beauty tutorials where women are seen removing prosthetic and clay from the nose area. Enhancing their features with prosthetics, tape and silicon for a more angular, scultped, “perfect” look. Tape is used to tighten the face to make it appear thinner and more “feminine”.
When these women remove their makeup at the end of the tutorial, you’re left speechless at the stark difference from made up to natural. Japanese women are known to have flat noses, eyelids that do not have a crease line, and round flatter faces. If the videos are anything to go by, it would seem that Japanese women have a lot of insecurities about their looks.
It’s one thing applying some foundation and concealer everyday, quite another to sculpt a whole new nose with clay and prosthetics. The women in the videos look much older without all that gunk on their faces. They’re obviously trying to look years younger with the use of all that makeup and enhancements.
One of the reasons for the “sculpted” makeup technique is said to be a cheaper, less painful alternative to plastic surgery. So women would happily sculpt their “perfect” faces, spending hours just to get out of the house, feeling beautiful.
Why do we do this to ourselves? We choose someone, a beauty icon and decide that our shape, weight, features pale in comparison to these perfect women. Hating our flaws, we’d do anything to look a certain way. The way “society” expects a woman to look.
Anything outside of the blonde hair, blue-eyed, 24:36:36 ratio is not beautiful. Not when that’s what’s being pushed down our throats. Beauty standards in South Africa are no different. With as much melanin as the country has, how often do we see a dark skinned woman on our screens? A normal, un-photoshopped, real woman!
“Yellow bones” are deemed more attractive, the lighter a woman’s skin in African culture the more beautiful she is. We view darkness like it’s a terrible thing. Like it’s something we should be ashamed off. Here we are telling the world to accept us regardless of our colour, when we can’t even accept ourselves.
When will we stop? Stop conforming to these insane beaut y standards that women are expected to follow? We starve ourselves to fit into our jeans, we buy hair, we want lashes we don’t have, we use body-shapers and spend all our time consumed by this notion that we have to look a certain way. When do we say, screw it all this is who I am, take me or leave me.
When will we ever be enough?