Distorting beauty


Kana Chung, Staff reporter

Every Monday through Friday, hundreds of teens are set within close proximity of each other, each with a different background, and each with their own story to tell. All are there for the same purpose: to get an education, and all are human just the same. But not all of them are willing to listen to one another and explore beyond their initial senses. The color of their skin, the language they speak, the foods they eat, all serve as a barrier between a person and those around them, preventing their true character from being seen.

We all have a race: A place our ancestors came from, A group that we identify with, A culture we embrace. Maybe it’s determined by where you are from, maybe it’s where your parents are from, or maybe even where your parents’ parents are from, but just about everyone is at least partially aware of their heritage. It’s a trait commonly used to categorize people, so it’s essential in today’s society to know which group you belong to; the black kids, the asian kids, the white kids, just to name a few prominent ones

You’ve likely heard the phrase, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” meaning, simply put, different people have different definitions of what beauty is. The term is thought to have been around since third century, yet people still attempt to universalize one single standard for beauty. Whether it be the media’s constant white-washing of beauty standards, or the fact that many ethnic groups in America are greatly outnumbered, being of an ethnic minority has never been favorable when it comes to beauty.

In a country as ethnically diverse as America, you would think that race wouldn’t have an effect on what is considered beautiful nowadays, and mass media likes to play it off as if it doesn’t anymore. Truthfully, in recent years, the country has made exceptional progress in embracing cultures other than the traditional European cultures that first immigrated during the country’s founding. The TV and film industries have begun to cast actors and actresses of color in leading roles which aren’t specifically targeted toward their race. Magazines and modeling companies have hired and highlighted people of many ethnicities. Even in everyday public places, it is considered extremely rude to make comments or treat someone differently based on their ethnic background.

However, the views a country has held for hundreds of years cannot be completely flipped so easily. That said, despite how culturally aware our country has become, there remain endless assumptions which are made based on one’s ethnic background, and more often than not, these assumptions change the way people are viewed by others. I’m sure you’ve heard of and/or believed at least one of the following: Asians have small and slanted eyes, Italian people and Jewish people have big noses, all African Americans have difficult and ever-changing hair, Muslim women are known for wearing hijabs and burkas to cover themselves. But the truth stands, these traits don’t apply to all every person of that race. Even if it did, being different from your culture or the way you look is nothing to look down upon. Correct me if I’m wrong, but people often store prejudice like this in the back of their mind without even knowing it. Society has shaped the way they view others.

It is undeniable: different racial groups share a few common features. For example, hair color, eye color, and skin tone. In addition to that, different countries have different traits that they see as beautiful. What is considered beautiful in one culture may be considered ugly in another. It changes the way people of different races present themselves, as well as how they are perceived.

Take a look around. Interracial couples aren’t as frequent as they might seem. Just because they have become more accepted doesn’t mean everyone is eager to jump on the bandwagon. People tend to stick with what they’re comfortable with, along with what their parents suggest. Their parents are from a generation which limits interracial interaction, but they were also raised to preserve their culture, so dating within your own ethnic group is most prevalent. If they are set on finding relationships within your race, they are less likely to pay attention to the attributes of those outside of that circle. Yet another contributing factor to why race can affect how beautiful someone appears. There may also be a negative connotation that comes with the country or region you or your ancestors are from. That could cause someone to turn away before they even think of getting to know you. They see them as less of a person because of the sacrifices that they or those who came before them had to make.

That’s the thing. People are people. No matter where you come from, how you were brought up, or how you look. We are all human, and as humans, we all have feelings. The fact that we could be considered “less desirable” solely based on our ancestry, is detrimental to self esteem. Take the time to know someone’s personality. A sense of humor, a sharp wit, a caring instinct, these are all traits that you can find across the globe. A person’s personality could denounce all their skin tone says about them, so don’t be fooled.