Alas, I am not the fawning royal fan, but one can't miss the parade of Britain's "blue bloods" constantly in the news. The queen's jubilee was covered wall to wall and looped on an endless cycle from every television channel to print news, usurping all other events regardless of the intensity level of the world's tragedies. The plane crash in Africa killing hundreds was scrolled at the bottom of some television programs like an aside, as coverage of Buckingham residents marched mindlessly on. Forget that the "commoners" at home and across the globe are experiencing an economic nightmare and millions can't feed their families - let the royal celebrations continue.
The winsome princess, or is it duchess--forgive me, I am woefully ignorant on these matters--is constantly praised for her beauty and fashion sense, hounded and covered almost daily by many in the media--mainstream or yellow press. So even if I'm not paying attention, she will cross my line of vision, and what a vision it is.
Is it just me or is her waistline dwindling as the days go by? I know stress, heavy lifting, lack of food, illness can all cause us shrink, and Princess Kate looks like one of the aforementioned has hit her hard. She has gone from slim to waif in a matter of months, but to hear the fashionistas out there tell it, she never looked more gorgeous.
Our society is obsessed with the smaller numbers in size, preferably the lower end of the single digits, and many of us jump through hoops, some pushing themselves to dangerous levels, to achieve that conformist size zero or close to it. We see healthy hips and buxom bosoms and plump rear ends as something unattractive to be dieted into oblivion. The European standard of flowing, Rapunzel-like long hair, narrow lips and hips is the epitome of beauty. Well, the lip size has gone through an interesting metamorphosis and our big, full pouty ethnic lips, once looked at as ugly, are now a fad for some white women. Black women have had full lips since time immemorial, but it was not until it was considered sexy on Angelina Jolie that it looked at as attractive on us.
Other ethnicities sometimes strive so hard to measure up, it is downright sad and dangerous. There are Asian women who have eyelid surgeries because they hate their unique beautiful eyes. There are women and men who bleach their dark skin to make it lighter, whiter. In India, this is a booming business and skin lightening creams are widely advertised and even promise users will get better jobs with lighter pigmentation.
Some blacks have nose jobs to rid themselves of what they see as unattractive broad, African noses. I remember as a girl, those with big noses were told that if they squeezeed them daily, they would narrow in size. Sad, isn't it? My skin tone is light brown, which was considered more beautiful than some of my siblings with darker hues and they were teased derogatory names. We also had a perplexing, complex intimate affair with hair. In the earlier days there were hot combs used to painfuly remove the "kinks" but today we have relaxers, weaves, extension pieces and wigs to give us that straight, soft or curly "non-ethnic" look.
A well known actor recently said in an interview that he wanted a wife with "good hair." Remember the "Old Spice Guy" who did those series of funny commercials? Well Isaiah Mustafa, the handsome, half-naked, ripped muscled, 'smelling as sweet as you would want your man to smell'--told E host Guiliana Rancic what kind of woman he was looking for. One of the qualities high up there with kind and athletic was "she must have good hair." What is good hair? A black man saying he wants a woman with 'good hair' feeds into that age old stereotypical self-hate where we think our textured hair is unattractive--not good enough.
To me, beauty is relative and is usually judged by our perceptions. But when that perception has been corroded by one dominant culture, it gets twisted into dangerous deformities. We start self-hating, all the while yearning for that "other."
Trying hard to conform, from constant dieting, hair management, skin lightening, plastic surgeries and more, we are forever pursuing that irresistibly unattainable, elusive commodity--perfection. Not just any perfection, though, but the kind measured by one standard barometer of beauty.