Beauty Standards

Shh. I haven’t been here for a while, and I gots something to say.

This one’s been marinating inside of me for a minute…

I’m baffled by the concept of beauty these days. I’ve always believed that what makes one different makes them beautiful, but I recognized that there’s a pressure, particularly on young women, to conform to a set “standard” to be “beautiful.” A certain hairstyle, a certain weight, a certain way of dress are seen as acceptable and right, and any deviations are seen as the norm. Strange thing is, we’re all a bit of a deviation if you ask me. Take myself for example: I’ve got a big crazy fro, I’m a bit overweight (working on that though), and I don’t get gussied up like the average girl, mostly because I’m not all that sure of what to “do” (anybody wanna be my big sister?). When I got my last relaxer 4 years ago and announced it, all I could get in return from people is “when are you gonna do your hair?” or “what’s up with that mop on your head?” or better yet, the unsolicited yanking, pulling and touching (especially on the occasion I opt to have it straightened, to see if it’s “all mine”). For the sake of keeping this a bit brief, I’d rather tell my hair story another time. Just know there’s a story, and have your popcorn ready.

It’s funny, because with all of these stories of celebrities making changes and being scrutinized (ie Solange Knowles’ infamous public cut (left), anything Rihanna or Beyonce does, Jennifer Aniston’s hairstyle which was popular enough to have a name, the Rachel (right)[by the way, wtheck was up with that?]), it makes me wonder: why do we let these societal standards define who we are? I think of Chris Rock’s upcoming documentary “Good Hair” (a phrase which pisses me beyond the highest possible level of pisstivity, because who determines if your hair is “good” or “bad,” if God made it to grow out of your head as such? For those unfamiliar with the documentary (or the term), here’s the trailer:

I’m kind of intrigued to see how relevant this will be, considering Rebbund Al is in it, and no, I wouldn’t touch his hair. It seems to be a good idea on the forefront, but I wonder exactly who the target audience is.

I know there are many people who get it, that you are who you are, and we should just embrace that no matter what. On the other side, you have, well, a mix of people who I hate to put in a box, because this will always be a never ending list… But for today, I kind of want to focus on those who make embracing your natural beauty seem so easy. Let’s look at the college professor in Georgia who adopted a child from Ethiopia, and with no prior knowledge of how to care for African hair, used love and patience to begin shaping in his daughter the idea that she is beautiful. For a gallery of photos like the ones to the side, click here. For the full story, click here.

It’s so nice to see stories like that, and from a non-African American family at that! The time spent learning speaks volumes of that father’s love. That “supply drawer” is nothing to balk about , either! I hope that one day when I have some curly haired cuties of my own, I will be able to impart into them the message of loving yourself as you are. Sure, I’ll accept the choices they make along the way, maybe even participate in some myself. The important thing is to teach them that who you are on the outside and
on the inside are the same, but different. That’s one less thing they’ll be in therapy for later with a wacky mum like me! 🙂

Anyway, what are some of your ideals on this whole “standard of beauty” thing, and what do you do to combat it, if you choose to do so? Do you have children, and if so, how do you impart the message that they are beautiful?

Love it. Period.

Take care!

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  • Oh la la, I like this post. I think the term beauty has been butchered with way too many definitions – many of which I think are appalling! This whole notion of being healthy has gone out of the window with crash diets & other madness when it comes to being "skinny/size zero/etc".

    As for hair, the Indian ideal is always sleek, straight hair. But I was born with curly hair, which I personally love. 🙂 I figure, it's more fun this way – I can mix it up. I've heard it's much tougher to try and curl naturally straight hair.

    Anyway, beauty obsessions aside, I think you know and feel that you're truly beautiful when you can look in the mirror with no make up and feel good about yourself. 🙂 Because make up (be it for your face, hair or the way you dress) is all just a way to enhance what's naturally already there.

    So long story short, love what you have. Because what you have is what makes you, you.

  • Thanks a lot for the comments Archana!! I'm going to sooner or later "hire" you to be my beauty consultant. I'd love to see the curls though. We could have a curl-off. 🙂

  • The Trailer for that movie is sooooo disturbing, especially when Chris is talking to the Indian woman; he tells her to run from a black women if he sees her because she may steal her hair. I hate when black women are portrayed as weave, wig, long-hair loving creatures that have low self-esteem. What Chris said was totally ridiculous and also Black/Indian people are of the same origin…so painting this picture of us being totally different from each other is wrong, sad and ignorant. Damn it Indians ARE black. I have Indian friends who look just like me with the same hair type and complexion. Yes, others are darker or lighter then the other but we are all the same.
    I am a mother and a teacher so I am around children most of my day. I teach my son and students that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. I teach them that being and looking different is something to be proud of and aspire to. Whether your hair is long or short you are beautiful is what I preach to them and I totally believe what I say to them, especially to the little girls. Hair does not make or break you. I don't tell them that "everyone is beautiful" because beauty is solely a matter of opinion in my eyes. Quite frankly, if a woman is unattractive; no weave, make-up or anything else will make her beautiful- she will still look the same.
    I am very versatile with my look. I went through so many phases- long hair, short hair, very short. It use to depend on how I was feeling.
    I've come to a point in my life where I want to stay consistent with my hair and my entire look. I know what works and looks good on me. These days I add long weave/tracks to my own hair because it fits me…and that is the ONLY reason why. I'm not ashamed of my hair, or wanna "be white", nor do I have low self-esteem, its simply a preference; it fits me well.
    I am a size 14 (5ft. 7in) and have always been confident- especially about my legs. I was in an accident, I broke my knee and had surgery. Now, I am left with a huge scar on my leg. These days I feel so beautiful and I am not afraid to show my legs. When i wear a short skirt, the scar is very visible and I really don't care. I am still Gorgeous, even more than before. Everyone, especially women have to be proud and confident with themselves; know and truly believe that they are beautiful.

  • Oh and you don't have to worry about being over-weight unless you want to get healthier for YOUR OWN sake.

  • Haha curl-off sounds fab. 😉 Though let's do it in a country where there's 0% humidity so that our curls actually do rock, heh. <3