Unmasking Beauty Standards Embracing Authenticity

Jan 7 , 2024
By Kidist Yidnekachew

I find myself pondering the reasons behind my inclination to straighten my hair, a process that prompts contemplation on embracing its natural state. Although I receive compliments on my curly hair, deep down, I sometimes conform to a certain standard to be considered beautiful.

The imprint on the definition of beauty nudges towards certain standards, leaving us to question our worth when we deviate from them. Navigating through it can be challenging—one that prompts introspection and self-discovery.

A recent desire to conform to certain beauty standards led me to experiment with a vibrant blonde hue. However, the realisation that the colour felt somewhat unnatural prompted me to question the authenticity of my choices. I found myself yearning to revert to my natural hair colour, contemplating the harmony inherent in embracing our genuine selves. It made me contemplate the perfection of the universe, even in its seemingly imperfect aspects.

Personal experiences such as these can unravel deeper revelations. The quest for self-love and acceptance becomes particularly poignant when we scrutinize the choices we make to conform to perceived ideals.

I wonder if the decisions are driven by a genuine desire for beauty and acceptance, or if they stem from a belief that we are not enough as we are. The question runs deep about identity, self-acceptance, and the influence of societal norms, urging a deeper exploration of the complexities surrounding the perceptions of beauty.

A candid conversation with a friend who, like me, admitted to using skin-whitening products led me to confront the motives behind such choices. Despite being aware of the potential health risks we both have succumbed to the allure of these products in pursuit of fairer skin. The ingrained notion that beauty and goodness are synonymous with whiteness has seeped into our collective consciousness, driving demand for products that promise a shift towards this idealised standard.

The obsession with fair skin echoes historical power dynamics. European colonisers associated fair complexions with superiority, wealth, and refinement, creating a framework that devalued darker skin tones. These ingrained biases persist today, influencing preferences in media, advertising, and personal interactions.

The cosmetics industry thrives on perpetuating the narrative that change is essential for completeness and beauty—an insidious message that infiltrates our thoughts and choices.

Unravelling the threads of this bias reveals its roots in cultural norms, personal preferences, and even evolutionary instincts. The attraction to lighter skin may have evolved as a response to environmental conditions, where melanin served as a natural sunscreen. However, the bias persists, exacerbated by internalised beliefs and the perpetual reinforcement of beauty standards in our daily lives.

As we navigate this complex terrain, dismantling biases and nurturing inclusivity becomes critical. The journey towards self-love requires continuous dedication and self-reflection. Understanding the intricate roots of biases and actively working towards embracing beauty in every shade of diversity is essential. It is an endeavour that invites us to peel back the layers, challenge societal norms, and ultimately, celebrate the authenticity found in embracing ourselves, flaws and all.

PUBLISHED ON Jan 07,2024 [ VOL 24 , NO 1236]

Kidist Yidnekachew is interested in art, human nature and behaviour. She has studied psychology, journalism and communications and can be reached at (kaymina21@gmail.com)

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