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The Detrimental Effects of Eurocentric Beauty Ideals

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We are all familiar with what Eurocentric beauty ideals encompass: pale skin, straight hair, light eyes etc. You would think that in 2017 these beauty ideals would not be as prevalent in our society but somehow they still are. Essentially, they are ideas that have stemmed from the Western world and have been imposed on the rest of the globe for decades, if not centuries. But why are these ideals so intertwined into modern societies’ psyche? It all emanated from colonisation. With countries such as the United Kingdom, France and Germany having colonised many places such as Africa and Southeast Asia they brought with them their dominant culture, which included their ideas of beauty. From then on Eurocentric beauty ideals were seen as the epitome of beauty (which obviously is false, as each country has their own unique style).

The main space where Eurocentric beauty ideals are present is in the Media, particularly in the beauty/fashion world. In the majority of makeup and fashion campaigns, we only see white women promoting products to people who don’t resemble them. With models such as Kendall Jenner being plastered everywhere, even on the cover of Vogue India for their 10th-anniversary issue. Even makeup brands that stock a wider range of foundations such as Rimmel, only feature the palest shade on its TV adverts. When makeup or fashion brands try to be diverse by including people of color they are used as props, featured only on the side of the white girl who is always front and center. Or they display blatant colorism by featuring people of color who are light in complexion, implying that paler is better. However recently a UK makeup brand N0.7 has tried to fight these ideals by using a bestselling author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a woman of color with a dark complexion, for their latest beauty campaign which consisted of national TV and poster Adverts. However, this is not enough as now, brands specifically catering to black women have adopted Eurocentric beauty ideals. The famous natural hair brand Shea Moisture recently came under fire for their recent TV adverts which featured 3 white women and one woman of color (who again had a light complexion) discussing the journey of learning to love their hair and their love for the products. A brand who made millions off of the backs of the black community were now shunning them and adopting Westernised ideas of beauty to get their products to reach the white community.

Eurocentric beauty ideals are being shoved down everyone’s throats and are causing serious damage. In secondary school, a friend of mine, who is a beautiful Ghanaian woman, stated that whenever taking selfies for social media she shines a lamp on her face to make her skin appear lighter, as she felt this was prettier. People all over the globe are investing in skin bleaching creams that has damaging effects on a person such as nerve damage and thinning of the skin (according to the NHS website). Another trend of relaxing your hair so it appears straighter can lead to chemical burns on the skin. All of these practices show what a harmful effect these beauty ideals have on people of color. Many are willing to go to extremes to attain societies’ ideals. By only presenting Eurocentric ideals, we are causing people of color to be uncomfortable in their own skin, as their looks are not desirable. We need to advocate for inclusivity in the world of fashion and beauty so everyone can learn to love themselves.

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