Immigration, Assimilation, Ethnicity and All That Jazz

Posts Tagged ‘beauty’

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.


Posted in assimilation, culture, ethnicity, minorities, religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Images of Asian women in (western) magazines

Posted by chinesecanuck on April 10, 2008

Ok, so it looks like every blog is talking about this, including Jezebel and Racialicious. I’m going to focus specifically on Asian women because, well I’m Asian.

OK, so this is the “ideal” look for Asian women, as posted in Guanabee, the original source:

Brief Overview: Asian women hold a curious place in the beauty stratum. Often, what is perceived as their “natural” physical traits are encouraged and often emulated by White women trying to achieve a certain standard of beauty. The idea of a natural physical ideal is a harmful one, because those who do not possess such traits are ignored or considered somehow inferior, physically. The Asian ideal, as perceived by American fashion magazines and elsewhere, revolves around the idea that one must be petite, slim, fair and delicate. Doll-like would be the best way to describe this ideal, both in terms of physical appearance and attitude.

The ideal: Ziyi Zhang

Hair: Straight. What was interesting to me, actually, was that a former Korean roommate of mine had all these magazines that featured girls with curly hair all dyed a sort of reddish color. Seriously, every. Single. Girl. In her magazines had the exact same hairstyle. She also had one magazine dedicated to Japanese girls who wanted to emulate the style of American Black women -this included wearing afros. Also interesting? Girls in Japanese and Korean magazines are generally much, much thinner than in American ones.

Skin: Clear, light. Although there are many, many ethnic groups prevalent throughout Asia, only porcelain-skinned girls find representation in American fashion mags.

Ass: N/A

Breasts: N/A

How magazines fucked up: Some Asian girls are chubby. Really! Some are muscular, some are tall, some are dark, some are doughy, and some are boney and awkward.

I kind of have an issue with the original poster’s skin comment. Fair skin has always been a standard in Asia as it was in the west until the 1920s. Skin lightening creams and other products would likely still be sold in stores had colonists and Hollywood never invaded Asia! Dark skin has historically been linked to peasants who worked in the fields, while light skin meant that you had the time to be indoors. After all, no one wants to be called a redneck hick. It just bugs me that people go on and on about how this standard came to be when Europeans arrived. They obviously have no knowledge or understanding of East Asian cultures. It’s always “blame it on colonial culture!” and this is very prevalent in certain “liberal” groups, both white and non-white.  Usually the excuses they give are along the lines of “colonialism re-enforced it”.  Don’t see what you’re talkin’ about!  Are you saying that dark skin would be more acceptable without colonialism, even if said culture had historically idealized fairness (especially for women)?  I mean, I can understand issues regarding eyes and noses, but complexion is something else.

I also found it interesting that unlike other cultures, there’s no comment on breast and hip size. What is the “ideal” anyway? I’m guessing small-to-medium? As in no bigger than a 34B for breast size and perhaps 34″ for hips? Who knows?

On different body shapes: So some Asian girls are chubby, others are muscular and others tall. So? Why bring that up, anyway? Lots of black, Hispanic and white girls are chubby, muscular, tall, short, etc…Why bother bringing it up in the first place?

At least the “ideal” look here is more grown up than in Hong Kong. The innocent, cute, girl-next-door type is ideal over there (let’s just say that you’re pretty much over the hill by your late 20s…there’s no cute 30-something girl type a la Carrie Bradshaw over there). That’s why many of the girls involved in the Edison Chen sex scandal have been pulled from endorsements. When you have an innocent girl image, dirty pictures are just all the more scandalous, even in cosmopolitan, liberal Hong Kong.  As for other Asian countries, the looks seem to be very funky in places like Japan and Korea.  However, I’m not familiar enough with their cultures to really comment.

On thinness:  So Asian girls in magazines are much thinner than American girls.  Asians in general have smaller frames, so yeah, they’re going to look thinner.  Duh!

By the way, other than saying that the ideal Asian woman is “petite” there’s no other mention of height. So is the original poster referring to frame or height?  I have seen “petite” used both ways, though height is more common.  In any case, Zhang Ziyi is listed on IMDB as being 5’5″ (though she’s been listed as 5’3″ at one point too)…..

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