Immigration, Assimilation, Ethnicity and All That Jazz

Oh dear, more “white westernized beauty” and culture posts at Racialicious!

Posted by chinesecanuck on April 18, 2008

Today, it’s on the updated version of Sweet Valley High. OK, so Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are slightly-above-average-height, slim, blonde twins. So? They’re supposed to be stereotypical California girls (except that Elizabeth is smart-LOL) So they’ve changed the “perfect size six” reference to size four….ummm…ever heard of vanity sizing?

But back to the whole ethnicity thing.  One thing I’m really sick and tired of in the ethnic blogs is the rant (and it’s always a rant…not that this one ISN’T…but it’s just that it’s the same, pretty much 100% of the time) of the so-called “white” standard of beauty.  OK, so the blonde hair, blue eyes, etc are standard, but  as I’ve emphasized in the Images of Asian Women post, fair skin is NOT a white standard.  And I call BULLSHIT to anyone who says that the standard was further reinforced with colonialism.  I’m sorry, but whitening products would STILL be in the market in Asia if Europeans never came.  But most of those posters don’t get it or see that it could happen.  Any person of Asian descent who actually believes that darker skin would be considered okay in Asia if colonialism never happened must not know much about their cultures’ standards in history.  Most (if not all) considered lighter skin as a standard of beauty as it was a symbol of being upper class.  If you’re dark, it’s because you had to work outside.  Light skin=life of leisure. INDOORS.  It was the same over in the west until the twentieth century when people started to vacation in warmer locales.  DUH!

Interracial relationships are briefly mentioned.  In one novel, Steven, the twins’ older brother, dates a black girl.  I’ve never read this book, but apparently they dated as according to the entry, “they were only together to make a social statement. What an enlightening commentary on why people enter interracial relationships. They do so to rebel, not because they actually care about each other.”  Whether this was the case or not, plenty of young people date outside of their race/religion/culture/ etc just to make a statement.  Anyway…

Also, the post goes on about a Latina character being embarrassed about her family and tells everyone her granny is her housekeeper.  Well, guess what, folks?  Lots of teens and even adults have issues with their family, especially if the family doesn’t fit into what most people consider “normal.”  That’s why some people dont’ talk to their families once they turn 18.  It doesn’t have to be an ethnicity thing.  Remember the 80s sitcom, Family Ties?  The eldest son, Alex, thought his hippie parents were really, really odd and didn’t fit his Reagan-era conservativeness.  And why shouldn’t it be addressed?  There ARE people like that.  Is that so wrong?  Why can’t a teenager have issues with her family?  Do stories for kids have to make things so “perfect” and white-washed?  Do all non-WASP characters have to fit some sort of bill and love and embrace their ethnicity?  What does that mean, anyway?

BTW, I’d like to see a revised version of Twins too….I recall a book published around 1988/1989 where Sweet Valley Middle School celebrates its 25th Anniversary and the twins go to a 60s party……wouldn’t it be cool to see an updated version of the book where the girls go to an 80s party???  I think Jessica would want to look like Madonna.


One Response to “Oh dear, more “white westernized beauty” and culture posts at Racialicious!”

  1. Rhys said

    It’s true that fair skin has been valued in many Asian cultures for centuries, but your quick dismissal of the significance of colonialism is oversimplifying the issue just as much as someone accusing an Asian who uses skin-lightening products of merely “trying to look white” is. Colonialism and the imposition of European beauty standards in Asian nations didn’t start the desire for light skin, but they are certainly factors in pepetuating it. Would dark skin be okay in Asia if large sections of the continent hadn’t been colonized? Hell, I don’t know. But you don’t, either. Speculating over what people would have been like without colonialism is a completely useless activity, because the fact of the matter is that colonialism happened and continues to have a profound effect on many Asian nations even today.

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