Growing up, the beauty “ideals” in my community were girls who were skinny, had clear skin or light skin tone. Girls who are of a darker skin toned and chubby were always considered ugly. I got to see this ideal further when I went to Vietnam in 2018. When I was there, my aunts would tell me that they would be happy to take me to put “powder” to make my skin “whiter” because it will make me prettier. They would also comment about my weight because I didn’t look like the girls there. They would say this to me a couple times making me feel self conscious about myself because skin color or weight shouldn’t determine how beautiful someone is.
Although I was born in the U.S, I grew up hearing about beauty standards of Southeast Asia. In Western culture, it is a common belief that “thinness is beauty” (Mills, Shannon, Hogue, 2017, p 146). Western culture depicts what the “perfect” body weight and shape on a women should like in the media. Women believe in these messages impacting what they think about themselves causing them to put themselves down. In Asia, dark skin is associated with working in the fields or poverty while pale skin is associated with living a life in doors away from the sun (Salvá, 2019). People with dark skin are viewed as ugly and are often made fun of. Like Western ideals of body image, in Asia, “the preference for white skin is reinforced via the media” and can be seen as skin whitening creams are available in pharmacies (Salvá, 2019).
The beauty standards for men and women are different. It's as if men can get away with more things such as appearance and personal hygiene whereas women are nitpicked for ever little thing. Women are often judged for their looks, weight, style, and many other factors. It seems that no matter what women do, they aren't good enough. Beauty standards are detrimental to mental health as it can cause people to develop eating disorders, anxiety, or depression as a result to be accepted. Lack of representation in social media of all beauty and body types influences how people see themselves. There needs to be more representation in the media of women of different body types to show girls and women around the world that there is not just one image of what a woman should look like. More representation can help women feel empowered and believe that they are perfect the way they are.
Mills, J., Shannon, A., Hogue, J. (2017). Beauty, Body Image, and the Media. Perception of Beauty. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5772/intechopen.68944
Salvá, A. (2019, December 2). Where Does the Asian Obsession With White Skin Come From? Retrieved from https://thediplomat.com/2019/12/where-does-the-asian-obsession-with-white-skin-come-from/