Students recognize cultural beauty standards

Karina Benson, co-a&e editor

In June of 2017, the film Wonder Woman was praised not just for its storyline or its character development, but for its role in promoting strong women around the world. The film emphasized that a strong woman was a beautiful woman, and the movie highlighted a shift in Hollywood’s standards of beauty. Here at South, students from different cultures, like junior Aasiyah Bhaiji, recognize some of the changes in certain cultures’ standards of beauty.

It is in part a result of colonization that certain Western beauty standards have taken hold in India, according to Bhaiji. She says it is common in India to see white women advertising skin bleaching creams because pale and clear skin is considered something to strive for.

“[The contrived standards of beauty do] not reflect what a normal Indian woman looks like at all,” Bhaiji said. “They expect these tall, fair-skinned girls and I’m this short, 5’ 3”, dark skin girl, and it’s just not what people want, and that’s not okay.”

Likewise, senior Youjin Shon says that South Korean beauty standards favor long legs, big eyes and a dainty nose. Shon also says that the South Korean ideal of a weight between 100-110 lbs. can often be unhealthy.

“Instead of wanting to love themselves more they are wanting to change who they are completely,” Shon said. “Even after they change, they are not entirely happy because, first of all, they are starving themselves and [it is not a healthy lifestyle, so] they are unhappy all the time.”

For Bhaiji, the actress Jameela Jamil stands out amongst the crowd as Bhaiji says she has called out people who have promoted ridiculous standards of Indian beauty.

Similarly, freshman Saanya Shah says she finds the YouTuber, Lilly Singh, more commonly known as IISuperwomanII, to be a role model.

“[Lilly Singh] is very proud of the fact that she’s Indian,” Shah said. “She embraces it and she has been able to do such great things with that. She accepts her beauty as an Indian woman and she isn’t ashamed of it. She has also done a really good job of embracing her own culture and using that as a platform to spread her thoughts and ideas.”

While role models such as Singh and Jamil try to guide society away from favoring certain standards, Bhaiji says she does not believe it is bad for different cultures to appreciate different aspects of beauty.

“Cultural beauty standards do allow for women to be empowered by the way they look,” Bhaiji said. “Someone who looks Latina can be super proud of herself being Latina. [Women] need to understand that if they don’t adhere to their cultural standards, that’s okay and they should be accepted for how they look regardless.”