The implications of “Beauty”

Since the beginning of recorded history there has been some perceived beauty “norm” that women are expected to adhere to.  Different cultures have varying aesthetic ideals that have changed throughout time.  As with our assigned reading, “The Beauty Queue”, the majority of studies dealing with the conflicted assessment of female “beauty” are from a “minority” perspective. After reading the excerpt by Margaret L. Hunter, I felt the need to talk a bit on this topic from a “white” standpoint.

Hunter talks about the advantages of having lighter skin in the African-American and Mexican-American cultures. In both of these ethnic groups to be “dark” is seen as unattractive. In western society “white” women have the opposite problem. I am ¼ Italian (Sicilian), ¼ German, ¼ Irish, and ¼ Mutt. However, most of my physical traits are of the Sicilian persuasion; dark brown hair, brown eyes, olive skin tone, etc. This apparently worked in my favor because I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been praised for my “beautiful” skin color. My response is always “Thanks, that’s the one good thing my sperm donor gave me.” Modern western “white” society sees paleness as unattractive and characteristic of death. Therefore, women spend money and risk their health on a regular basis to become darker. Within the last decade tanning has become the more prominent means by which “white” women attempt to achieve a darker more desirable skin tone. Even though I have what some would call “great color” I fall victim to this as well. Why? Because for some unforeseen reason the majority vote states that the most “beautiful” skin color is a medium between “white” and “black”. My questions are who came to this conclusion and how?

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3 Responses to The implications of “Beauty”

  1. A.P. Colucci says:

    Well what are your thoughts? What are some reasons you might think that white women (and increasingly, men) strive to be darker in skin color, while other races value lighter skin? What has changed over time that could affect these views, or what could change in the future to affect these views?

    You might consider other views that have changed, and why. For instance it was once considered a sign of beauty or attractiveness to be overweight as this signaled wealth. How is this a similar situation, and why has it changed?

    • sidd08 says:

      Perhaps the need to be tan started in the 60s when bikinis became popular and the beach bunny era began. Having a tan gave people a “healthy glow”. I am glad to see that this trend is changing due to research expressing the dangers of sunbathing and tanning beds.

  2. Well, much like paleness used to be seen as a sign of wealth (you weren’t outside working the fields), being tan may have started that way as well. More people began working indoors and being tan may have signified a couple things: That you were wealthy enough to live in a warmer more desireable climate (California, Florida, etc…) and that you had free time to lay outside in the sun (you didn’t have to work). Once the tanning bed phenomenon came about location wouldn’t have mattered as much. Instead, that signified you had enough money to regularly go to a tanning salon. I’m not sure why we value certain physical characteristics over others, but one thing I do know is that the humanity in general has become increasingly more vain just during my 25yrs of life…. I’m sure that has something to do with it.

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