The Double Standard of Beauty

I was scrolling through Tik Tok when I saw a woman of color speaking on how recently there has been a shift in how people perceive her. She was being told more and more frequently that she looks white. That got her wondering why people were saying that? Because for most of her life she has easily been identified as an ethnic minority. She started to hypothesize it was because recently ethnic features, especially Black features, have become somewhat of a popular trend to emulate. And that it wasn’t her becoming more White, but White women changing their features to appear more ethnically ambiguous that was causing this shift.

young woman covering head with paper
Photo by Roghaye Arabpour on

It got me thinking about beauty standards, and the shift that is currently happening in our society today. White women are overly tanning themselves, spray-painting their bodies darker, wearing traditionally Black hairstyles, appearing to have injected their lips and butt to resemble that of Black and Brown women, and adopting Black fashion and culture. BBL (Brazillian Butt Lift) procedures on Tik Tok to give you an hourglass figure in all the right places. White celebrities like Kylie Jenner are praised for wearing wigs, extensions, and participating in black culture. White models are held as the epitome of beauty for emulating Fox eyes, a traditionally Asian eye shape with makeup and surgery. The list goes on and on.

Ethnic minorities, especially Black women, who have dealt with teasing and discrimination for certain features are now learning that those features are now considered beautiful! Except the world didn’t learn to find those features beautiful on them. Society learned to find those features beautiful once they were manufactured onto the faces and bodies of White women. While White women are rewarded for using makeup, surgery, filters and money to look like an ethnically ambiguous Black woman, women of color are ridiculed, sexualized, abused, and murdered for being born with their skin color, body, and hair type. Women of Color, especially Black women, are degraded for their features in this society but a white woman with the same features is lauded as the epitome of beauty. The difference is Women of Color can’t take on and off these features like an accessory as they please. Their tan doesn’t go away and their lips don’t dissolve.

I’m not saying you can’t alter your appearance. I think you should do whatever makes you happy in a society that forces an unrealistic beauty standard upon all women. However, I think it’s important to recognize the implications behind these trends and the rise in cosmetic procedures. Where are they coming from and who are we giving credit to? At the very least, are we listening to the women who’s features and cultures are being put on display? Black women who say don’t wear these hairstyles it’s bad for your hair and you are unaware of the history and culture behind it or Asian women saying it’s offensive to do “fox eyes” and pull the skin around your eyes back while we get made fun of? Are we really listening to them when they say, ‘Hey there’s a line there, and it’s being crossed’. As a societal whole, I don’t think we are because it continues to happen and they continue to be ignored.

In the end, you can do whatever you want with your body. However, I think it’s important to look at where these trends are coming from and to support and uplift Women of color who are often looked down upon for their appearance.

4 thoughts on “The Double Standard of Beauty”

  1. This is such an important topic to speak on! From a young age black girls were taught to embrace their differences in comparison to White girls and all the White girls’ perceptions of beauty. Regardless of the media and even disney movies we had grown up watching there was an emphasis on White beauty. This post has made me think of the children’s picture book “Hair Love” which basically creates an environment for children to feel and nurture their beauty that is not cohesive with the White standard.
    It is upsetting that White women can take things the Black community has been doing for forever as a trend and “pull it off,” get compliments etc. when Black women had been dealing with the problems that ensued from that same thing. The only difference being the color of their skin.

    Thank you for your post.

  2. I think you chose to speak on a very important topic: the beauty industry that often disregards the influence of black women. Hair is a way for black women to express themselves, and the line between cultural appropriation and appreciation can be very fine. Credit should be given to black women who have started certain fashion trends as well as beauty trends. As you say, I think it’s very important to uplift women of color and accentuate the origin and significance of these styles, where a white person is not at the center.

  3. This is such an important and relevant topic especially with the increase in social media presence within society. It is insane that people of ethnic background who have these features are judged for it yet when whites decide its “trendy” then it is deemed beautiful. Its hard because on one hand people should have the right to change their bodies as they please but something about this rubs me the wrong way that whites can play dress up and decide they are done with it when the people they are mimicking do not have that option, that is who they are. I think this double standard needs to be exposed and the beauty industry should emphasize embracing the beautiful features given from origin. Ultimately, the beauty industry has become toxic and it is clear that women in general, but especially for women of color are suffering for it. We need to bring more attention to this!

  4. I could not agree more with everything that you’re saying! People like the Kardashians/Jenners are a prime example of this. They get the BBL’s, put their hair in cornrows, and steal many other trends from the Black community. When they do it, it’s considered stylish, fashionable, and trendsetting. However, Black women have been doing these things for decades, and they just get scrutinized.

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