The term “beauty” comes from the italian term “Belleza” and it means: “Pleasant perfection for the eyes that captivates the spirit”. This concept is passed from generation to generation through family conversations, when we comment about someone’s appearance and among other situations in our daily lives. The media dictates and propagates the beauty ideal so effectively that we do not realize how these impositions can affect our self-esteem.
We learn the concept of beauty from such an early age that, for the most part, it is not something we think about too carefully. However, in times when diversity is gaining more and more space, we must reflect on what this concept really tells us and criticize the old standards of beauty that are still imposed by society.
For example, imagine someone that you consider to be beautiful. There is a high chance that this person you imagined attends certain standards of beauty, oftenly related to race. We have followed and tried to achieve western beauty standards for decades. We were taught since childhood that fair skin, fine features and straight hair for example, are automatically considered to be beautiful. Therefore, it can be conflicting to face this eurocentric view when these ideas are already ingrained in our mindset.
How can beauty standards affect us?
We learned early on that we gain validation from other people through our appearance. There are many fairy tales, for example, in which beauty is associated with positive personality traits, such as: trustworthy, gentle and loving; while "ugliness" is directly associated with bad things, such as: envy, lack of intelligence and bad behavior. Since most of these fairy tales have a western point of view, it is natural that the lack of diversity affects children of color's self-esteem.
Since they don’t see themselves in any of the heroes or princesses in these stories, they tend to associate their appearance with the villains. From there, a painful journey starts (until adulthood), where they try to fit into almost unreachable standards of beauty. Even though these standards might be unreachable for many of us, we still pursue it, because we learn that beauty equals higher chances of getting a well-paid job, being in successful relationships and so on.
Just as we learn the concept of what it is to be beautiful (from a eurocentric perspective), we also learn about what is considered "ugly". Anything that deviates from the western beauty standard is not considered attractive or trustworthy. The lack of representation in the media contributes to the perpetuation of racist stereotypes that can lead to feelings of inadequacy and self-hatred in people who do not meet these standards.
After all, what is Beauty?
We find true beauty from the moment we are willing to know ourselves from the inside out and understand that it comes in different shapes and colors. It's about valuing our roots and spreading that pride and love to future generations. Then, we finally understand that Beauty doesn't just exist in the physical aspect, but also in our essence and virtues that make us unique!
Skyllie, I'm a 25 year old from Porto.
Graduated in Fashion Adviser and Personal Shopper, by the Fashion School of Porto and, more recently, graduated in Professional Makeup, by the Makeup School of Porto. In addition to these training areas.
I create content for YouTube and Instagram!
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