All four of the women in my immediate family have had plastic surgery. One of us had a breast augmentation, one of us had a breast reduction. Two of us had our eyelids lifted. One of us had body contouring done, one of us had a necklift, one of us had surgery under her eyes, and one of us had fat injected into her hands. One of us gets Botox injections, and one of us has had tattoos removed. Hell, one of us worked in a plastic surgeon’s office for a decade.
So imagine my dismay whenever my boyfriend tells me that Nicki Minaj’s ass is weird or doesn’t look right because it’s “fake,” or that breast implants are gross. It’s not a big enough deal for me to get in a fight about it, but it rankles a little whenever men tell me — I can’t think of very many women I know who have never considered the possibility of plastic surgery — that there’s something inferior about a woman’s body because it’s been surgically “enhanced.” Guys, you’re talking about my family. We’re all beautiful. If I never said anything about it, you’d never know — but even if the surgery was obvious, it wouldn’t change the fact that it’s our right to self-determine how we look. Keep reading »
1. I’m 15 and for the first time in my life, a teacher calls me out on sleeping in class when I’ve been awake the whole time. I’m surprised it hasn’t happened earlier, because kids have made fun of my eyes since preschool. Times are a-changing I guess. I’m the only Asian in my class, one of three in my entire high school, and people bring it up all the time for the rest of the year. I get it. It’s funny, that time our old, kinda-racist teacher thought I was sleeping because my eyes are small. My eyes aren’t even that small!
2. I’m 12 and my mom is teaching me how to smile so that my eyes don’t disappear. No one likes a squint. I’m 0 percent invested, so I don’t learn. I do know that the word for squint in Mandarin is mī, and it forms your mouth in a squint when you pronounce it, like a lyrical “me,” lips tight for the ‘m’ and barely parted for the ‘ī’. I don’t read much into that. It’s just a happy coincidence, like how “groovy” ends on a smile.
3. I’m 20 and sometimes my friend points out that my eyes disappear when I smile really hard. I think — I know — I think she doesn’t mean it in a shitty way (“I always forget that you’re Asian,” she’s also said), but every time I hear it, it burns red hot in my brain for the rest of the day. I’ve learned enough to know that when I was 15 and people said, “It’s funny because your eyes aren’t even that small,” they were also saying, “You don’t look that Asian.” I suspect this is the same kind of thing. Then I suspect that I’m doing a lot of introspection for a hang sesh with my friends. Keep reading »
Saturday evening on her Instagram profile, R&B singer Ciara debuted a new hairstyle: waist-skimming loc extensions. The style, a temporary version of the loc-ed hair many Black people of all genders sport, sparked discussion both among fans and style outlets.
One in particular, People magazine’s StyleWatch section, posted a story Tuesday about Ciara’s newest mane and stirred a dialogue about far more than trendy summer hair colors. Associate Style Editor Brittany Talarico noted that Ciara is set to wed fiancé Future in a “very elegant affair,” then said immediately afterward in parentheses that the wedding was “another reason [People thinks] she’ll ditch the dreads.”
While the phrase has since been removed, the undertones of Talarico’s words were not lost on some Black readers. YouTube comedienne, natural hair guru and Upworthy curator Franchesca Ramsey pointed out People’s words on her blog shortly after the article was posted. A Black woman with dreadlocks herself, Ramsey noted that the article suggests Ciara could not possibly want to keep her loc extensions for an “elegant” wedding—meaning the locs extensions themselves cannot be elegant. Keep reading »
When American journalist Esther Honig sent her un-retouched photo to over 40 Photoshop artists around the world, she received a vastly different virtual makeover from each. “With a cost ranging from five to thirty dollars, and the hope that each designer will pull from their personal and cultural constructs of beauty to enhance my unaltered image, all I request is that they ‘make me beautiful’,” Honig writes on her website.
Each designer did make her beautiful — by their own nation’s standards, which illuminated just how different each culture’s version of female attractiveness is. Honig’s project, called “Before & After,” was inspired by the many freelancers offering Photoshop skills that she came across on Fiverr. Some of her photos were sent to experts, others to amateurs [Uh, ya think? -- Amelia], but each came back with an enlightening lesson about how we define beauty — and no two cultures’ images were exactly alike. Even though she expected to see drastic results, Honig herself was still unprepared for the shock she felt at seeing some of the retouched photos. Keep reading »
American Apparel’s latest lingerie model is gorgeous, standing at six-feet tall with long hair and beautiful full lips.
She is also 62.
Jacky O’Shaughnessey is modeling once again for American Apparel, only this time she stripped down for their lingerie line. The tagline on Jacky’s beautiful image reads, “Sexy has no expiration date.”
Damn you, American Apparel, for all the conflicting feelings you inspire in us! Keep reading »
Three or so days in, I’ve listened to Beyonce’s new, self-titled record straight through at least a dozen times. I say with all seriousness that I believe it is her masterpiece, one of those increasingly rare albums in which every track is essential to the overall story. While I have my favorites, there is not one track I have the desire to skip. The album and its 17 accompanying music videos tell a story about womanhood, but specifically Black womanhood, that is powerful, compelling and beautiful. At times, the songs are clearly autobiographical, but they also speak to themes that are relatable to many women — sexuality, self-expression, motherhood, love, heartbreak, power, and self-worth. The latter theme is especially felt in the album’s opening number, “Pretty Hurts,” which has Bey singing about the damaging effects of rigid beauty standards and body policing. The video for “Pretty Hurts” features Beyonce as a pageant contestant (from the Third Ward, the area in Houston where she grew up) who endures judgmental looks and objectifying weight and measurement assessments as she sings, “But you can’t fix what you can’t see/ It’s the soul that needs the surgery.”
The song sends a powerful message about the pressure we put on girls to look a certain way; the video depicts just one way that pressure is experienced by girls specifically in the pageant circuit. But according to Amanda Hess over at Slate, the video’s pageant theme is “based on an incredibly outdated vision of how we reinforce unattainable physical norms for girls.” According to Hess, “today’s beauty myth is constructed through collections of highly curated ‘candid’ selfies beamed straight from the stars themselves, and Beyoncé is its queen.” In other words, it’s not just the video that Hess has a problem with — it’s Beyonce delivering that message at all because, in her opinion, Beyonce is part of the problem. What Hess gets wrong is … well, everything. Keep reading »