When talking about body image and how it affects our young girls, it is important to address an important factor. Idealized beauty, in the United States and many other countries, is Eurocentric. Meaning, white facial features, fashion trends, body shape, and skin tone are idealized. According to Beauty Redefined, “Images of white women dominate all media – especially roles or depictions featuring “beautiful” or desirable women, not funny sidekicks, the chunky best friend, the hired help or other stereotypes.”
It would be silly and ill-informed to assume that this does not affect our young, black girls. When they don’t see girls on TV with curly, coily hair or darker skin, they start to believe that their natural selves should be hidden. Kadia Blagrove writes fashion articles and for the longest time never noticed that all her articles centered on women that looked nothing like her. She had been socialized into believing that “white is default”. Kadia writes, “First of all, diversity within the media is largely unbalanced. Diversity really means 90% white people and a few token people of color here and there.”
Sometimes I feel as if I need permission to be black. –Kadia Blagrove
Before we start pointing to black women in media who have become popular role models, such as Beyonce, we must read this from Beauty Redefined:
Though beautiful women of color like Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Queen Latifah, Rihanna, Jennifer Hudson, Halle Berry and others have achieved renown in U.S. culture, media representations of these women have become increasingly “anglicized” or “whitewashed” over time, with lighter-colored, straighter hair, lighter makeup, colored contacts and often shrinking figures. –Beauty Redefined
Check out the website for their photos on how these celebrities “looks” have been altered throughout the years by style teams and digital media.
We need to show our girls that beautiful women of color exist! That they are present and powerful. Girls should not be pressured to straighten their hair or lighten their skin to be beautiful. It should be a personal choice made by their own decision, not by society’s beauty standards.
How can you help?
- Show your girls beautiful, strong women who look like them
- Alter their media choices to include more shows, magazines, or movies that include women of color
- Engage in conversations about beauty and race
- Empower your girls to love themselves
- Be a role model, be a mentor
And, attend our November Second Saturday event on body image with 360 Mind Body Soul Fitness Studio!