Unfair & Ugly: The Standardization of Eurocentric Beauty Standards

Have you ever been told that you’re not pretty because you’re brown? Well, I have. With my South Asian upbringing, many people in my family have remarked that I was “too dark” and should “get out of the sun.”

In these modern times, Eurocentric beauty standards are now the norm. Having a pale, white face, a small nose, long, blonde hair, and large round eyes, and being thin and tall with no body hair is considered what all women should be. This beauty standard harms women of color, especially since they have ethnic features that are quite the opposite of this destructive beauty standard. It’s long past due to realize that every woman has different characteristics, and there is no one way to be beautiful.

Eurocentric beauty standards are a lasting result of the colonization of Europeans in places like Asia and Africa, where the media continues to propagate Western culture and standards as “civilized” and correct. For example, in South Asia, having lighter skin is heavily promoted, and having darker skin is seen as unattractive. Fair & Lovely, well now Glow & Lovely, is a beauty product heavily marketed for its skin-lightening uses, despite its adverse effects on the skin. There is also a similar product for men. Celebrities like Juhi Chawla, Yami Gautam, and Aishwarya Rai have endorsed these products and, as a result, have contributed to the negative stereotypes surrounding darker skin tones. Even in Indian film industries like Bollywood and Tollywood, actresses with a lighter complexion are continuously hired over actresses with a darker complexion regardless of talent. This practice, again, reinforces the standard that fair-skinned women are superior to dark-skinned women.

Moving over to East Asia, there is also a lot of anti-blackness and Eurocentric beauty standards inflicted. Many East and Southeast Asians wear makeup that makes their face paler, as having darker skin is associated with being lower class, not just in East Asia but also around the world, sourced from the notion that peasants and the lower class tan from working in the sun all day long. Moreover, the media holds East Asian women to a standard in which they are supposed to be young, cute, and innocent. One of the most prominent features of this standard is large, round eyes. Research has shown that 50% of women in their twenties in Korea undergo a procedure to have double eyelids. This procedure creates the illusion that one’s eyes are bigger, aligning with this standard.

Though Middle Easterns take pride in their own ethnic features, they are also no exception to Eurocentric beauty standards. Middle Easterns can be genetically European, African, or of other mixed races, leading to a wide range of skin tones and features. In the Middle East, whiteness is seen as a blessing, whereas society views those with darker skin immediately as lower than society and “ugly.”

In many Western countries, like the United States, women of color will take steps to fit into Western beauty standards. With these Western standards seen as superior and women of color ridiculed for their ethnic features, many alter their traits to fit in and end their mockery. For example, many women of color have nose jobs to reach the standard of having a small, “cute” nose, which often differs from ethnic noses. With the rise in the number of nose jobs, a new term has even come to rise called “ethnic rhinoplasty,” This procedure claims to “preserve each patient’s cultural identity.” However, the appearance of the nose is still straightened and minimized. Supermodel Bella Hadid worded her regret for getting such a nose job at 14 stating,

I wish I had kept the nose of my ancestors. I think I would have grown into it.

Around the world, for centuries, Eurocentric beauty standards have been the ideal to which many people are held. As society starts to understand the gravitas of these toxic standards, we must realize it is time to get rid of them and stay true to our natural beauty and features.

Works Cited

Aviles, Trisha Gopal, Julia Naftulin, Gwen. “Bella Hadid Said She Wished She Still Had ‘the

Nose of Her Ancestors.’ ‘Ethnic Nose Jobs’ Are on the Rise.” Insider, 23 Mar. 2022, www.insider.com/bella-hadid-ethnic-nose-jobs-2022-3#:~:text=In%20an%20interview% 20with%20Vogue%2C%20Bella%20Hadid%20admitted%20she%20regretted.

Chen, Toby, et al. Occidentalisation of Beauty Standards: Eurocentrism in Asia. 2020. Richard, Emily. “Stop Imposing Eurocentric Beauty Standards.” Medium, 7 Sept. 2021,