Columns, Opinion

Miss Leading: Scars to your beauty standards

The quote “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is definitely one of the worst quotes about beauty out there. It contradicts all beauty standards held by our society and by the media. In the iconic movies of my childhood like “Mean Girls” and “High School Musical,” I was told I could only be popular if I was blonde or Caucasian.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having these features, but just because I don’t have them, it doesn’t mean I should hold any lower status than girls who do. The thing is, there’s nothing wrong with having those characteristics or with being popular, but there is something wrong with believing that “white is right” — and that’s what society tends to idealize.

Dove has built their brand on allowing women to be themselves and feel the beauty of their bodies. But on Saturday, they put out an ad that was the exact opposite of what they stand for. A three second ad posted on their Facebook page showed an black woman removing her brown shirt to reveal a tan skinned woman wearing a tan shirt who removed her shirt to reveal a white woman wearing a white shirt. The intention of the ad was to be a “celebration of diversity,” but instead, it came across as a depiction of racism.  

While I know this was not the intention of the ad, or of Dove’s overall message, this topic goes much further than the fact that it’s racist or wrong. This is not even the first time a major company has screwed up the message they are trying to send their audience. Earlier this year, Pepsi put out a controversial ad with Kendall Jenner solving all of the world’s issues by giving an American police officer a bottle of Pepsi.

This is purely political. Former President Barack Obama received a lot of flak for being black throughout his time in office and beyond. It was during his presidency that Nina Davuluri won the Miss America pageant and was condemned for her title. Exoticism is only beautiful when it’s foreign, but people who are American can only fit the “ideal” standard of beauty. This is a very hypocritical way of looking at the truly amazing diversity of our country. Everyone in America doesn’t look the same, so why are we so obsessed with the way one certain group looks?

It is so vital to be able to convey a message to the mass public. Companies like Dove and Pepsi have shown people like me that we still have a long way to go in terms of understanding and appreciating all different types of people. The kids who are growing up right now are extremely lucky.

While our country is not perfect, it is filled with people like Ashley Graham, Zendaya, Priyanka Chopra, Hasan Minhaj, Gina Rodriguez, Winnie Harlow and so many more — each taking the stage and breaking all boundaries.

When I see any one of these people on TV, I recognize how different we all are, but how incredibly similar we are as well. I absolutely appreciate seeing someone in the media who looks the same as me or acts the same as me because then I don’t feel as ashamed of what I look like.

It’s incredibly important, especially in this day and age, for people to be both comfortable and confident with who they are. When I go out in public, I’m fully aware of my surroundings, but I also understand that I don’t need to be ashamed of how dark my skin is or how I act as a person. I no longer worry that no one is going to like me because of how I come across. I’m allowed to be proud of who I am.

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