Monday, September 15, 2008

Beautiful Stranger

"Are your eyes naturally that chinky or is it the makeup that has them looking like that?"

Oh my Lord are you serious?!?!?!

This is no joke. This happened a few weeks ago and apparently the cashier at the Jamba Juice where I stopped to get my morning smoothie was dead serious because she repeated the question when I just stared at her the first time.

Now in all honesty, people have commented on the shape of my eyes in the past, in fact my grandaddy called me his "pug nose baby with the chinese eyes". I have been asked if there are Asians in my family, whether or not I am part Asian, and many things of that nature, but never has it been put to me so bluntly.

I don't know why my eyes happen to have a particular slant to them and as far as I know there are no Asian people in my lineage (but like I said that is as far as I know). I myself don't think there is anything different about the shape of my eyes, but others do.

The exchange got me thinking about how it is that certain traits became ascribed to certain groups of people, or why in one culture a particular trait is looked down upon, yet other cultures are trying to find ways to achieve the same look, and consider it a mark/standard of beauty.

Thick lips on Angelina Jolie = Hot
Thick lips on Angeliqa Jones = Not

Curly afro wig/weave on J-Lo = Hot
Real afro on female of colour = Not

Where have these conflicting standards of beauty come from.

On the one hand I believe a certain responsibility lies with the modeling/fashion industry and media. While Dream Girls was only a movie imagine for how many women (and men) it was a reflection on real events in their lives. Being pushed out or passed over for someone taller, thinner, lighter, younger, "prettier"; not necessarily better, just "better looking".

On the other hand I believe that responsibility can also be laid at people's home door steps. As a short, solid chick some could make the argument that maybe I am bitter or jealous because I do not fit the "Standard of Beauty", and if I had been raised in a different environment that may well have been the case. However, I was raised in an environment where I learned that it didn't matter what everyone else said or thought; what truly mattered was what you believed about yourself. We were taught to take pride in how we looked, and carry ourselves with dignity. More importantly we were taught that TRUE beauty is not something that could not be seen on the outside or measured in any calculable (wow that is really a word?) way.

True beauty has nothing to do with physical looks because there are some "gorgeous" ugly people in this world. You know that person that looks so good, but as soon as they open their mouth and start speaking you recoil; a pretty face hiding a dark character. Yet often times by virtue of the fact that they have a "pretty face" their bad behaviour is excused or accepted (Naomi Campbell anyone...).

What I realise though, is that there will not be a change coming anytime soon. Having worked behind the scenes on fashion shows and sitting in my office in the fashion district in the midst of fashion week I see that the same "standards" still exist.

I wonder what it will take to change them.

1 comment:

metgirl4ever said...

I know these sterotypes exist in the fashion world. I am an avid viewer of America's Next Top Model. I will same I was a happy to see the first full size model win the show last season. Also, it was refreshing to see a "no doubt" aneroxic girl get asked about her diet on ANTM last week. The judges said they had to airbrush "on" more weight b/c she was too skinny in the photos. She was let go that night. I think it's important for people in the industry to address these issues on A REGULAR BASIS. That's why I love the fact that Spain has a weight minimum for models to fight against girls dying of aneroxia.