LCFF is proud to post this article by local youth, Alanna Ramirez, as part of our hope to provide the personal stories and observations of those who call Lake City “home”.
Title: Knowing Reality – by Alanna ramirez
“For years the beauty industry has influenced many trends and beauty secrets; whether that’s to curl your hair with soda cans, or learning how to clear a blemish overnight. This industry has become a huge platform to showcase standards of beauty among many different races and cultures. Although this can be seen as a good way to inspire and educate young individuals, the beauty world has become a blindfold to cover up the true meaning of what beauty is. Especially towards women of color being affected by the racism and fake body image standards they are expected to obtain.
Increasingly we are seeing a lot of young girls and women looking at Latina models such as Eva Longoria and Sofia Vergara. These actresses are cast in roles and doing modeling shoots that represent the beauty and body stereotypes that society has branded us with. Being a Latin American woman, I am expected to have the figure of a Barbie doll; which translates to having looks that are unrealistic and naturally un-achievable. These representations cause myself and other women to think, “If my body doesn’t look like that then I’m not performing my role in society the way I’m supposed to; I’m not allowed to claim myself as an authentic Latina because I don’t have those curves, or my hair doesn’t look like that or I’m not speaking the same way.”
Lightened skin, straight hair and a small figure are suggested as an ideal standard of beauty. The physical features of non-European women are never ranked as an ideal standard of beauty. Latina women are pressured by the beauty industry to portray features of a white woman to be considered beautiful. The classification of a Latin American woman is one of promiscuity and being uneducated, and considered to have a curvaceous physique.
More than 80% of the models for beauty ads are white; minorities make up only 17% of beauty ads. The amount of racism and cultural stereotypes that are advertised in the beauty industry has affected many women of color. Classification and racial views have caused many women of color to question their femininity; to a point of severe depression. As a result, it has led to many types of oppressive behaviors by those who are setting these unrealistic standards that have an altered view of what beauty really is. This leads those standards of beauty to be questioned; creating consumerism and racism targeted at Latina women in America.
Being a Latina I could only relate to Latina women in my family and never the ones on TV or advertisements. Media has illustrated for me that an actual Latina was supposed to be things like exotic, vivacious, with skin-tight dresses. This really became the norm when describing a typical Latina.
Judgement about a woman’s image is pervasive and accepted. On social media sites such as Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook; ethnic groups are categorized into the stereotypical beauty standards, and showcased as ranks of who’s better. Consequently, 7 in 10 women believe they are not good enough or do not fit the stereotypical standards due to media and advertisements. With stores such as Brandy Melville and Abercrombie and Fitch they only advertise thin white women, with long straight blonde hair. With these brands all over social media as a trend for clothing; many women cannot fit the clothes or be represented in ads to connect with the brand; such as seeing a woman who looks similar or is around the same size. Having knowledge of this and how it’s plagued Latina women – I have not subjected myself to be trapped or forced into believing that I have to look like anything portrayed in the media, advertisements or what is considered to be beauty. By doing such, I have exceeded beauty stereotypes by embracing my inner beauty and the differences I possess.
The incorporation of colorism, shows up in different residential areas and cultures. Across East Asia, practices of skin lightening are tied to expressions of wealth. Whiter skin is a type of capital that indicates social class position, and also functions as a value that allows people to get access to benefits that enhance quality of life. Darker skin may symbolize a type of lower class, whereas whiter skin indicates an “upper class” status. With these misrepresentations of social status based on a woman’s skin color, skin bleaching has become a billion-dollar industry. For example, in a Dove VisibleCare soap advertisement, the ad shows three women; one black, one Latina and one white. Looking left to right it shows the black woman under the before skin picture and the white woman underneath the after picture. This depicted that if a woman were to have darker skin, after using the Dove VisibleCare she would be looking and feeling better by looking white, rather than being a darker complexion. Women of color are misrepresented in all aspects of the beauty industry, from advertisements such as Dove’s to being sexualized in modeling shoots. As a whole, the industry has affected women of color to have an altered view on how they should represent their ethnic beauty.
The portrayals of women of color being shown in the beauty industry has pulled a blindfold over our eyes. Altering the way we see ourselves and how the beauty in our culture is perceived to be. With the beauty industry advertising these misrepresentations, has advocated the many racist and sexist stereotypes labeling women of color. Instead the industry should be taking advantage of the opportunity it has to educate young women of color that their beauty is like no other and to embrace their differences. In a sense, the beauty world should not be showcasing such negative views for women to subject themselves into, just so they can feel accepted in society.”