Vice.com

BIPOC are having to reclaim their own features from western beauty standards

By:
Gurshabad Kang (@gurshabadkang)

Many of us can recognize that there has been a major shift in beauty standards in the past decade.

With colonization, Eurocentric features have traditionally always been the status quo and the standard to attain, with ethnic features being diminished by comparison.

However, with the rise of social media and influencer culture, the same body shapes and facial structures that Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC), and in particular BIPOC women, were formerly belittled for, are now the ideal beauty standard to attain -- often in bits and pieces, donned by ethnically ambiguous white women.

As a result, on social media, BIPOC are instead being labelled “wannabes” and “copycats” being told that they are trying to emulate the latest Instagram beauty influencers, who have borrowed from  their natural, ancestral features.

Whether it’s darkening one’s skin with makeup or filters to appear more tan, or “Blackfishing”, or getting fillers or botox to get bigger lips or a “fox eye”, white influencers borrow from BIPOC, but BIPOC women are the ones being called out for “copying” the white women who pay to look like them.

It is widely visible on social media – you can read any prominent BIPOC creator’s comments, and it will be filled with comparisons to Caucasian women, and how he/she/them should stop “trying to be like” them. 

For example, fuller lips are now synonymous with “Kylie Jenner lips”, and wider hips are synonymous with Kim Kardashian

These features are historically prevalent in BIPOC genetics, and now BIPOC have to explain and defend themselves against accusations of copying someone in order to exist in their own ancestral form.

There are many industries profiting from the manipulation of BIPOC features, from make-up to plastic surgery. 

The recent “Fox Eye” trend is a perfect example of how BIPOC features are ridiculed when they’re on BIPOC people, but celebrated when they are mimicked on white people, or on other races.

Imagine being a young woman of Asian descent, bullied all her life with derogatory comments about your eyes, and then seeing the same people calling Bella Hadid’s fox eye look beautiful. 

While there has no doubt been a move towards inclusivity in the beauty industry, as more BIPOC-lead make up brands begin to enter the scene, the representation does not get rid of the appropriation, that often continues to go unchecked.

We live in “The Age of Instagram Face”, where everyone wants to accumulate different features from different cultures to make the “perfect” racially ambiguous face. 

This is extremely problematic, not only for BIPOC, but for all young impressionable people, because this “perfect” face is unrealistic, and simply doesn’t exist. 

BIPOC features and genetics aren’t a part of a trend, yet this “Instagram face” is seen all over the world, and emulated in filters on every media platform.

This is dangerous because it can create body dysmorphia among BIPOC. 

For decades, BIPOC have to deal with the pain of feeling insecure and inferior about their distinguishing features, and now they have to fight against the repurposing of the same features, marketed back to them on non-BIPOC faces.

The amount of dissonance this creates within a person requires a lot of self-work and self-awareness to fight, without having to feel you need to aspire to something else.

BIPOC features are not a pick-and-choose lookbook to find the next beauty trend, and it’s on us to remind ourselves that our distinguishing features are what make us unique, without having to mould ourselves to an unattainable standard. 


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