Category Archives: On Beauty

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Watch: Suey Park Discusses #NotYourAsianSidekick

By Arturo R. García

Just about three months after leading a discussion on #POC4CulturalEnrichment, activist Suey Park hosted another critical Twitter talk on Sunday with #NotYourAsianSidekick.

But this time, the impact spread beyond social activism circles. NYAS was covered not only on sites like Race Files and Angry Asian Man, but the tag trended so highly that Buzzfeed, the Washington Post and the BBC, among others, covered it. Park was also contacted for an interview with CNN anchor Don Lemon.

It also led to this image being circulated around Twitter and Tumblr:

“Even if the representation of women is changing in mainstream America, it’s not changing for Asian-American women,” Park told BBC News on Tuesday, and the segment as a whole is worth viewing. We’ll post Park’s CNN interview as soon as we can.

Beauty = White: Photo Editing Software Edition

By Guest Contributor Lisa Wade, PhD; originally published at Sociological Images

Here is something quite simple, sent along by Judy B.  It’s a screenshot of Gimp, an open source image editing application.  An optional plug-in, created by a user, offers a series of filters for images, including ones that “beautify.”  One of the options is “skin whitening.”

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This is one more reminder that we live in a racist society that conflates whiteness with beauty.  Remember, too, though, that someone — very possibly a set of people — had to make a conscious decision to include skin whitening as an option and position it as a sub-category of beautification.  Then they had to, literally, type the words into the program and make it so.

This shit doesn’t just happen.  It’s not random.  Racism isn’t just an ephemeral cultural thing.  It involves actual decisions made by real people who, if not motivated by racism, are complicit with it.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter andFacebook.

“You will never be on this anchor desk, because you’re Chinese”

“So, I asked my news director … over the holidays if anchors want to take vacations, could I fill in? And he said, ‘You will never be on this anchor desk, because you’re Chinese.’ He said ‘Let’s face it Julie, how relatable are you to our community? How big of an Asian community do we have in Dayton? On top of that because of your Asian eyes, I’ve noticed that when you’re on camera, you look disinterested and bored.’

So, what am I supposed to say to my boss? I wanted to cry right then and there. It felt like a dagger in my heart, because all of my life I wanted to be a network anchor.”

– Julie Chen, host of “The Talk,” on her decision to get plastic surgery early in her reporting career

Suggestions For The Future: Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition

by Fashion and Entertainment Editor Joseph Lamour

Emily DiDonato in Namibia. Image via SI.com.

I’m sure by now you’ve heard or you’ve read articles about the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition fail that swept like wildfire through the tubes and pipes of the internet. We have enough “WTF, mate?” articles about this most recent cultural appropriation fail, and unless I’m breaking a story–which I’m clearly not since this happened last week–I like to add something new to the conversation. I took a look at the (offending) pictures from this shoot and, frankly, regardless of the use of race props, most of the (again, offending) pictures are just terrible.
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Quoted: Former Roundtable Member Hexy on ‘The Diversity of Femme’

I have experienced a general ignorance about racial and Indigenous issue in queer and femme communities, and an expectation that anti-racist activism be considered secondary to feminist, anti-homophobic and anti-femmephobic activism, when queer femmes of colour often experience our identities to be one holistic piece. It is an impossible request for a femme of colour to separate her experiences as a person of colour from her experiences as a femme or her experiences as a queer, and it is unreasonable to ask us to prioritise racism last simply because it is not something that affects white femmes. Significantly, this attitude promotes the idea that femme is an identity that cannot co-exist with an identity of colour, that one must choose between being a person of colour and being a femme, or that being femme is a “white thing”. This drives femmes of colour away from femme community, from femme organisations, and possibly away from femme itself as an identity and a self-label. If femme communities and organisations are to acknowledge and embrace the diversity that exists amongst femmes, we must make an effort to be deliberately inclusive, to work to have femme viewed as something other than a white identity, and to acknowledge that working against racism should be something done by everyone.

As a femme of colour who is read as white, I’ve experienced a lot of white queers simply misracialising me. Queers who know quite well that I’m Indigenous will ignore this fact, either through their own white privilege, through refusal to correct their ignorance of Indigenous issues, or through a kind of blindness where they cannot see past my skin. While recent years have seen an attempt by many Australian queer communities to address issues of internalised racism and become more inclusive of racially diverse members, they often still remain white centric and exclusionary to people of colour. The only answer to this is for every member of these communities to actively address inclusivity as a priority, to work at addressing their own internalised prejudices and biases, and to aim for a diverse community as an ultimate goal. I strongly encourage everyone here to take the time to read a little of the awareness-raising work being written by some of the amazing femmes of colour and other queer women of colour, even if most of it is coming out of the US, where there is a far more established femme of colour community than there is here. Hopefully we’ll start to see some homegrown voices soon.

- From Feministe, June 15

Fashionably Colonized: Hybrid Vigor, Brazilian Models, and Global Ideas of Beauty

by Latoya Peterson

Reader Nancy L sent in an article from the New York Times with an opening that made even this jaded activist do a double take:

RESTINGA SÊCA, Brazil — Before setting out in a pink S.U.V. to comb the schoolyards and shopping malls of southern Brazil, Alisson Chornak studies books, maps and Web sites to understand how the towns were colonized and how European their residents might look today.

The goal, he and other model scouts say, is to find the right genetic cocktail of German and Italian ancestry, perhaps with some Russian or other Slavic blood thrown in. Such a mix, they say, helps produce the tall, thin girls with straight hair, fair skin and light eyes that Brazil exports to the runways of New York, Milan and Paris with stunning success.

So this is how we’re going now? What is this, the hybrid vigor myth on speed? Continue reading

Die Already, King Kong Racism: Lady Gaga Edition

by Deputy Editor Thea Lim

Why oh why does the King Kong image and its attendant suggestions of pure white goodness and evil black barbarism keep on rearing its ugly head?  Sent to us by reader Ruth, this photo is one of a series done by celeb art photographer David LaChappelle, for special editions of Lady Gaga’s new album.   See the whole series here.

You may remember this image from the 2008 Lebron James & Gisele Bundchen Vogue Magazine cover:

Or you may remember it and its ilk from the Amanda Marcotte/Seal Press debacle, where Seal Press used images such as the following to illustrate Marcotte’s book, It’s a Jungle Out There:

Or you may remember this image from this:

The list goes on.

In September, I linked to another Gaga/West image, which features a white lady (Gaga I assume) and a black person (West I assume) humping around.  I suggested that the image dehumanised both players in a sexist and racist way.  Mostly the reader response was: yawn.

This new King Kong photo of Gaga being the white virgin for West’s primal altar is problematic just to look at: a naked blonde woman with a perfect body is being stolen by a dark-skinned tropical heathen with dead eyes.  Aiyeeee.

But the shot is even problematic in the context of the Iconography of Gaga.

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Mattel Falls Short With S.I.S (So In Style) Line Black Barbies

by Guest Contributor Seattle Slim, originally published at Happy Nappy Head

While checking out Bossip, I saw a link to an article at HipHopWired about Mattel’s new line of black Barbies, S.I.S or So InStyle.

You already know I was hesitant to get my hopes up, and that hesitation was warranted.

I am not one to complain about any and everything. However, as someone who would’ve sold my little brother and my first born child for the newest Barbie when I was a wee lass, I expected Mattel to come better than this. You know why? Because I know they can do better.


When I was about 13 years old, my mom bought me Barbie’s special edition Kenyan Barbie from their their Dolls Around the World collection. My mom didn’t give a damn what I did with the other “chocolate” covered Barbies. She cared about this one, and she was and still is prized. She was the first Barbie doll that I felt accurately reflected my features and aesthetics. Sure, I had black and white Barbies, but they all looked like the white Barbies, except for her.

I was so excited that Mattel had put in that work. I always hoped they would strive to make black Barbies look, well, black. It never really happened, as those Barbies always had something that “exoticized” them.
I remember looking at one of them and thinking, “Okay…so she must be mixed then?” It was alright, I guess. My grandfather has blue eyes, and he’s very dark-skinned, so I figured the Barbies had the same background as him.  However, I do not have blue eyes. I didn’t have long, wavy hair that had little no kink in it (unless I relaxed of course). Naturally, black Barbie’s appearance was something that stuck with me, and I wished I could look more “other” than I really was.
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