COLUMN: Eurocentric beauty standards uphold white supremacy

January 11, 2021

Straight blonde hair. Blue eyes. Small nose. Light skin. 

I had always wanted these features. They are a stark contrast next to my curly, dark hair, brown eyes and tan skin. 

But now I know why I always felt like I needed to be more like the models on TV, more white. 

Eurocentric beauty standards plague young people of color one way or another. It puts shame on our racial and ethnic features. Despite being all that our ancestors want us to be, we’re still expected to be white. 

Eurocentrism is focusing on European culture to the exclusion of the wider view of the world. Eurocentric beauty standards simply mean basing depictions of beauty around European-like features and people. 

@christaachan##greenscreen eurocentric beauty standards love appropriating features off women of color and rename it a “trend” ##foxeye ##racism♬ she wanna fw my crew – chelsey docherty

When you grow up with nothing but Eurocentric representation in models, TV and movies, it’s hard to not compare yourself to this white narrative. 

Eurocentrism has affected my self-esteem with my nose and my plus size body negatively as soon as I was old enough to understand it was not the ideal,” said Grayslake North high school senior Lauren Hunt. 

In major beauty campaigns, I remember always seeing a white model to market makeup and fashion. These models were portrayed to be aesthetically desirable. I truly only remember several magazine covers of American Vogue featuring Salma Hayek. 

Campaigns were trying to market a “white look” with exclusively white models with their products. 

It affects young people of color negatively to be widely excluded in these beauty campaigns. 

The Fashion Spot compiled a survey that showed 78 percent of all models featured in spring 2016’s fashion advertisements were white, according to the Guardian. Which left 8.3 percent of Black models, 4 percent Asian models, and 3.8 Hispanic models. 

“The disconnect between what I saw on TV and what I saw in the mirror followed me for years until I started to unlearn those negative views for myself,” Hunt said. 

I’ve struggled with how to justify wanting to be more like the white models I’ve seen on TV. It boils down to that I wanted to be seen as beautiful in society’s eyes.

“[Eurocentrism] brings this idea that if you don’t fit into a certain mold then you’re not considered conventionally attractive,” said College of Lake County freshman Anjelica Rodriguez. “Which places the others who are not considered beautiful to question their worth and what to change about themselves to accommodate these standards.”

The features that people of color are degraded for are the ones that make us who we are. 

“I was one of three Black people, including my sister, growing up in North Idaho,” said College of Lake County sophomore Max Meredith. “I would always think I was ugly because of my dark skin.” 

“A lot of kids would call me poopy hands because of the color of my skin and I always wanted straight fine, white hair,” Meredith said. 

All the efforts to maintain Eurocentric beauty standards comes down to how it’s a form of upholding white supremacy. 

@jaskiranxkReply to @demimichael2 I kinda explained it wrong, Eurocentric standards are focusing on European features, but hope this helps!:)

♬ original sound – 𝓙𝓪𝓼𝓴𝓲𝓻𝓪𝓷

This society wants to convince people of color that only a white person could be an acceptable representation of beauty.

“Eurocentrism relates to white supremacy by announcing to the world that these primarily white features are only what is accepted, and if you fall anywhere outside of these expectations you are inferior, less than, not enough,” Hunt said. 

Meredith said that he believes that white supremacy is reinforced by making people of color feel inferior compared to white people. By tailoring social aesthetics to one race, people of color are forced to compare themselves.

It’s despicable and discriminatory to continue to set an overriding beauty standard that caters to a particular heritage. 

We have to actively fight against this social standard and start to embrace all features from all races and ethnicities. 

It starts with representation and integration. Multiple fashion lines, like Savage by Rihanna, include models from a variety of backgrounds and displaying all kinds of body types, hair and features. 

I hate to think that my beautiful cousins would ever think they are ugly because of who they are and what they cannot change. 

If I could, I would go back to tell my younger self that society wants me to be ashamed of who I am. I need to embrace everything about myself that makes me a Mexican-American.

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