Today in a long history of colonialism. African-American author

Today being beautiful is about being white. Fair skinned is the standard for both men and women to achieve. This standard is established in a history full of racist beliefs that black or dark skin was considered ugly and the value of the person was diminished. These beliefs are still shown today in the media. The media shows beauty in a specific way, that being lighter is considered more beautiful. The media pressures individuals into trying to reach this beauty standard in order to be accepted by society.  The failure of meeting the beauty standards and obtaining ‘the look’ creates a cycle of unattainable beauty and affects the physical and mental health of men and women influenced.The idea that being white is the quintessential standard of beauty is found in a long history of colonialism. African-American author Iyanla Vanzant believes that it comes from destructive and deep-rooted issues that can be traced back to slavery. She explained that “As black female slaves were ‘bred’ with their white owners, their children became successively lighter skinned and received preferential treatment. Darker skinned slaves toiled in the fields as their lighter counterparts were permitted indoors to service the ‘mistresses’ of the house.” Zadeh, E. (2014, March 26) They would subjectively segregate the women based on their skin color, depicting women with darker skin as inferior to women with lighter skin. This resulted in the belief and treatment that being fair skinned meant more value and gave them a higher social stand, and darker skin was then associated with poverty and the idea of being dirty. Therefore this led to the societal treatment of people with black or dark skin was inferior.Malcolm X was an individual who protested against the idea that being black was not beautiful. Malcolm X was an activist that helped influence and inspire many African Americans to have pride, self-respect and to embrace their blackness. He embodied the struggle that many black people in the 1960’s and because of the media, still face today. He argued that white people were the reason for black self-hatred. Malcolm X delivered a speech about self-hatred in the black community asking black men and women who taught them to hate themselves,Who taught you to hate the texture of your hair? Who taught you to hate the color of your skin? To such extent, you bleach, to get like the white man. Who taught you to hate the shape of your nose and the shape of your lips? Who taught you to hate yourself from the top of your head to the soles of your feet? This speech helped men and women see that “beauty” was determined by white people. It made people think about how much white people determined the value of black people and that they should not hate what they were born with. Back then black history was not taught in schools, many black people did not know anything about their own history. Having the media, books, and schools controlled by white people which meant that it would be around white history as well. Malcolm X took the time to educate himself on Africa’s history and learned the atrocities that white men committed during the slave trade, murdering and enslaving millions of blacks as well as taking over parts of Africa. Due to not many African Americans knowing their background they believed what the white people told them. They gave black people a false image of what Africa was, which was negative and hateful. They were taught that it was filled with black savages and monkeys. Malcolm X believed that white men would be giving black people false perceptions about their origin to make black people comply and obey them. This made them disassociate with their own identity and feel as though they would be shamed for it. He believed that Africa’s independence is able to allow black people to feel that it is okay to identify, become proud of their heritage and reunite people together. Today the media although is not racist, it reinforces white beauty standards through constant promotion many advertisements often endorsed by celebrities. This constant pressure of the media can have an impact on people. This includes a negative physical and psychological impact including developing low self-esteem, depression, and body dysmorphia because of these beauty standards. Skin bleaching cream has become a popular worldwide product used to brighten the skin that can be found and promoted often in Asia and Africa.  It is a multi-billion dollar company products used to lighten skin that profit off of people’s insecurities. These products can be very harmful with chemicals including hydroquinone, which is an ingredient that disrupts the production of the melanin. This can lead to skin cancer as well as swelling of the skin, osteoporosis, and damage to organs. Many believe that skin bleaching makes the individual look prettier, can provide more opportunities, and gives them a better status. This proves the power of what it means to be beautiful, individuals will attach their beauty to their self worth. For example, in Africa all advertisements show a light skinned women and it gives people the impression that it is beautiful. Ama K. Abebrese is an actress that was born in Ghana, she expresses her concerns regarding the advertisements on skin bleaching, “it breaks my heart, there’s not a day I don’t drive into town and see a billboard that tells me I need perfect white skin. We are here in an African country, and it’s like someone just hit you in your gut.” Cooper, H (2016, November) People in Africa feel that being dark skinned is not an exception. Melanin was developed as humans evolved to make them permanently dark against the strong sun, especially in lands near the equator. (new paragraph, case study) The idea of being white has made many men and women feel like they have to look white in order to be successful by trying to stripping their melanin away.  (add in topic).Lupita Nyong’o is an actor who delivered a speech on how she felt about her dark skin due to the media,I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin, I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin and my one prayer to God, the miracle worker, was that I would wake up lighter-skinned. And every day I experienced the same disappointment of being just as dark as I was the day before. Savali, K (2014, February)She explains people with darker skin struggle to feel comfortable in their own skin due to society, therefore lowering her self-esteem and confidence. This preference for fairness was also highlighted in the Kenneth Clark Doll experiments, in which African-American children were presented with two dolls and they would be asked questions on which doll they thought was prettier, or good. The kids chose the white doll and when asked why, they could not explain why or would respond with ‘because she’s white.’ This shows that pressure of the media made the minds of young black children were distorted. They had internalized stereotypes and racism, to the point of hating themselves. This is why it is very important for companies and celebrities to use their platform to show representation and diversity in the media. For many years the media did have a big approach diversity and inclusion, and would use celebrities to endorse products making their audience think it is achievable.  Exposing people to more people of colour gives certain racial groups a representation of themselves in the media which they are able to relate to; gives inspiration; and these celebrities are able to speak on issues and break stereotypes. This explains that the intergenerational trauma and oppression affects future generations; and this prejudice towards darker toned people creates further discrimination and oppression and the internalisation of lighter skin tones as more desirable and the ‘ideal’ beauty standard but in order to change this perception of beauty we must educate and speak out against this worldwide issue to help women and men develop their self-esteem and pride that the media has taken away.This chase to conform to beauty standards held in the minds of individuals have always weighed heavily on the shoulders of both men and women in society. The foundation of these standards was created historically and have been carried on throughout the years. This has caused intergenerational effects such as self-hatred, oppression, and discrimination against those who fail to meet what is thought of as ‘beautiful’. From this internal and physical challenges are created for the consumers who are constantly exposed to the idea of what they ‘should look like’. It is important to society fix this idea of Western beauty and open doors for diversity to emerge. With a number of diverse models and individuals being represented in the media, it helps people of color feel as if they have a spokesperson or role model to break the stereotypes and represent a different beauty standard in which they can relate to.

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