We Are Equal; “The Next Generation Should Not Inherit Our Silly Beauty Standards”
In this column submission, Zefanya Norman Todoan dissects the toxicity of beauty standards and urges us to celebrate diversity instead.
White skin, sharp nose, long straight hair, faces with certain racial combinations have become a standard of beauty for some people. Many faces with these characteristics are often seen in the entertainment industry in this country. Ranging from soap operas, films to commercials, many are dominated by those who have a mixed Indo race aka Caucasian aka “Bule” or Oriental Korean. The industry enthusiasts, especially the “talent seekers”, choose those who have “character”, even without being equipped with good quality of acting and local language skills, but at the end of the day they were chosen to be a star. The door of the entertainment industry world seems to give a powerful statement to the audience that those who have certain physical characteristics standards are able to enter the gate to work in the entertainment industry easily.
According to the Law of Polarity which states that all are dual, all have poles, all have opposite pairs, likes and dislikes, good and bad, white and black, right and wrong, on every negative side there must also be a positive side. It is undeniable that many actors in the entertainment industry are born with beautiful looks and extraordinary talent and good work ethic. Actually there is nothing wrong with admiring someone’s beauty. On the other hand, this feels a disturbing conscience, if beauty is made as a certain standard or definition that seems to be enshrined in the social sphere, which leads to two things namely obsession and false belief.
The obsession referred to the obsession of an individual to be able to appear similar to his / her idol excessively by putting aside his / her identity, that every race on this earth has certain physical beauty and uniqueness characteristics. Therefore, various kinds of treatments and beauty products with bizarre names are now milling about everywhere. They also claim to provide instant results with side effects borne by them. Besides that, this obsession also creates uniformity in social appearance, which is marked by the presence of the white glowing phenomenon. The definition of this phenomenon is where people en masse want to have white skin “glowing”, on behalf of a healthy bright. Because of this, it makes some people seem to agree with the assumption that if you are white then you are beautiful. Besides producing an impact in the form of an obsession, there are other things that in my opinion were born by forming a perspective on the standard of beauty of certain physical characteristics and human races, which is false belief.
In my opinion, false belief is a product of misunderstanding resulting from the wrong reasons. Excessive glorification and obsession by people to foreigners or individuals with mixed race, results in social inequality. There are still many of us who see the citizens of the world who have white skin as first-class humans. This can be seen from how most of the people in our beloved country treat foreigners in social life, with the service of the king class. How do they see strangers as “good objects” to take pictures with, “Mister, mister can I take a picture with you mister?” In addition, there are still many of us who think that white citizens of the world have non-serial money or ATM running, so that many people are competing to be able to establish relationships and marry white people with a particular or ordinary mission or mode that is called bule hunter. They assume that marrying white people is the answer to their financial problems.
A few months ago, I also found an advertisement about sharing inspirational things, especially about education and dating. This source was found from one of the social media accounts known to spread information related to overseas scholarships. In the advertisement, it was shown the materials that they will share, for example; how to recognize the characteristics of Caucasians, step by step approaching Caucasians, the shortcuts to captivate their (Caucasians) hearts, the challenges of being in relationship with Caucasians, and the difficulty to approach Caucasians. How funny is that? Then a few days later the ad was taken out by the account owner, by making a statement of apology for publishing an ad that was not in accordance with the educational value, but discriminating against certain people by making certain races as an object. Even further, many of us still think that foreigners have higher capabilities, competencies and intellect than our own society. As if we will feel secure if there are foreign nationals involved in a project, in control of the company or any type of activity, because we are lulled by international frills. We can admit, indeed, that the Whites of the developed world hold great control over many industries in the world.
However, in truth we are all equal. Foreign citizens also have a society with a variety of behavior, just like the people in our country. There are those who disobey, obedient, smart, diligent, liars, helpful, etc. As citizens of the world we all have the same opportunity to have high capability, competence and intellect. Because it has been proven since ancient times. Indonesia also has its geniuses, one of them is Raden Ajeng Kartini. She was born in 1879 and died in 1904. She lived in the colonial era but still had a progressive way of thinking. She produced an original thought about women. She has the perspective that, who else can change human dignity if it is not a woman, because a mother is the first madrasa for her children.
A mother is the first educator for her generation in developing the mindset and outlook of her children. So if we want to improve a nation, the answer is in women. In addition, in the colonial era Raden Ajeng Kartini also showed her concern in the field of education for girls from respected families and the marginalized. Why daughters? Because she expected that the children of women will later give birth to a generation with a better mindset than the previous generation. This idea was thought by Raden Ajeng Kartini around 100 years ago, what she had thought about 100 years ago is still relevant until today. This indicates that Indonesia has had its geniuses for a long time.
In addition, in my opinion, this false belief exists in the community, perhaps closely related to the postcolonial mentality. This postcolonial mentality is the attitude of ethnic or cultural inferiority felt by people as a result of colonialism, they were colonized by other groups / nations. Therefore, our way of thinking of other nations becomes inferior. Our country was colonized for 350 years, and maybe without us realizing this postcolonial mentality is in our DNA. It is time for us to break the chain of this postcolonial mentality in order to change our paradigm in viewing other nations, presenting the value of equality. The equality between us as citizens of the world.
As good news, the perspective of beauty standards that had been uniform in the society, now gradually began to erode with the presence of world models that break down the standards of beauty in public. Instead, they highlight the uniqueness that they have, by showing what is considered as flaws by the eyes of the world can be unique and special. Through their presence, the world seems to open its eyes in seeing the standards of beauty. One of them is the presence of a world supermodel named Winnie Harlow, with vitiligo skin. Vitiligo is a condition where an uneven combination of skin color, between white and the color of a person’s real skin looks like blotches on the face or body. However, in the modeling industry, Winnie Harlow still sauntered with confidence. Because of its uniqueness, Winnie was once part of the famous reality show in America, namely America’s Next Top Model. In addition, she has also starred in several music videos from famous singers and also became a model for Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. She was also an ambassador for some famous fashion brands.
In addition, there is also Sophia Hadjipanteli. This model has a very thick and unified eyebrow (unibrow) shape. Because of the unique shape of her eyebrows, Sophia is often bullied. However, this did not make her quickly give up. The uniqueness of these eyebrows makes Sophia different from others and delivers her to be a model for London Fashion Week and well-known brands such as Guess Jeans.
Generally, beauty standards are usually represented by a “proportional” body shape, slim. On the other hand, this one model, Tess McMillan is one of the plus size models that break the standard of beauty in society, with her curvy body shape that makes her confident and makes her a top model. Because of her curviness, Tess was once a model for a big brand like Dolce & Gabbana. In addition, she often entered in famous fashion magazines such as Italian Vogue and British Vogue.
Besides the three models above, there are still many beautiful women with their uniqueness. One of them is a model from Spain, Marian Avila. She is one of some models with down syndrome who managed to become a model for Talisha White at New York Fashion Week. Then there is another successful model named Slick Woods, who was born with two distant front teeth or gap teeth. Because of it, she was often bullied. However, Slick has now become one of the representations of beauty through her work to become a famous model for Hollywood artists such as Rihanna and Kanye West, as well as famous designers such as Marc Jacobs and Jeremy Scott. Her face also often appears in magazines, such as American Vogue, Italian Vogue, Vogue Japan. If we talk about unique models, we cannot forget one talented model from South Africa, Thando Hopa who is a model born with albino conditions. Being born as an albino now makes Thando a well-known model, activist and lawyer. Her face had also been a famous magazine cover such as Vogue.
In essence, the physical beauty of humans is relative and not absolute. There is no superior or inferior race, there is no race class number one. We are all created equal and same in front of the only one who created us, God Almighty. We are all the same with our respective beauty, characteristics and uniqueness. Therefore we cannot look at beauty based on standards that are determined by humans themselves. Human physical characteristics are different, ranging from body shape, skin color, facial bone structure, hair type, etc. The difference and diversity should not be used as a comparison between one another but instead to unify us as a citizen of the world. The difference and diversity is not a platform to demean and elevate our fellow citizens of the world. Let’s look deep into our position that we are all equal, we all have the opportunity to look beautiful with the uniqueness we all have. Therefore, bequeath to the next generation the revelation that every inhabitant of the earth is different but equal. We are equally beautiful with each other’s uniqueness. We are precious and worthy.