Opinion: We need to talk about Eurocentric beauty standards

Eurocentric beauty standards can make students of color feel inferior

ASU is consistently ranked among the top 10 "hottest" universities in the country. While Tempe is one of the hottest cities in the country, these ranks are more concerned with the "hotness" of the girls who attend ASU.

Not only are these rankings extremely arbitrary, sexist and subjective, they also promote Eurocentric beauty standards. 

In the many rankings posted online, the attached pictures that aim to show the "attractiveness" of ASU girls are comprised of predominantly white, conventionally attractive girls. This issue is also prevalent on social media, with accounts such as Tempe Barstool posting mainly white girls as their "smokeshows" of the week.

READ MORE: Opinion: Ranking colleges by hot girls is harmful to those in the No. 1 spot

ASU’s diversity is entirely absent from these rankings. When the majority of ASU students are not white, these rankings ignore most of ASU’s women of color. By excluding more than half of the races represented at ASU, these rankings enforce the idea that whiter is more attractive. 

"Descriptions of women and beauty in literature and media is often reflective of the way society perceives such things at the time," said Christiane Fontinha de Alcantara, an honors faculty fellow who is currently working on a book manuscript that explores the role of physical description and beauty of female literary characters. 

Current societal perception pushes Eurocentric beauty standards to the forefront. This can be extremely damaging to the self-esteem of students of color.

A report put together by Huberta Jackson-Lowman, a professor at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, analyzed studies involving the self-esteem of African American girls. 

The study found African American girls' self-esteem was much lower growing up than their white counterparts. Even more importantly, girls with "whiter" features such as lighter skin and straighter hair had a higher self-esteem than those with darker skin or curlier hair. 

Erasing entire identities from the way that ASU is viewed and judged takes away from the message of diversity ASU strives to stand behind. 

As an Indian American woman, there have been far too times where I have been told that I am "hot for an Indian." Rhetoric like this, which is only compounded by the Eurocentric beauty standards perpetuated in rankings and social media, furthers the idea that some races are not considered to be "hot" — and that as a woman of color you can never compete with the superior white beauty.

For any progress to be made there needs to be a more open conversation about the beauty standards we ascribe ourselves to. If it is accepted that schools are ranked as "hot" due to the body type, color and appearance of a small subset of students, these beauty standards will continue to affect a majority of ASU’s population for years to come. 

Only from pressure enforced by students will there be a shift in the way media and companies depict beauty.

"Writers are not going to write in a way that does not resonate with their audience," Alcantara said. "In fact, we have seen a shift toward focusing more on females' personality rather than their appearance in novels. This signals a shift that has come as society has shifted their standards on how they perceive women." 

ASU students must also stop placing importance on such rankings. These rankings only serve to set up divides solely on the basis of appearance. There is no reason for any person to feel that they are less than or will never be good enough solely based on their appearance and factors that they have no control over. 

Eurocentric beauty standards are arbitrary and frankly stupid. By allowing them to continue affecting the way we view our university and the people around us, we only perpetuate an idea that serves to make people feel inferior and separate groups based on attributes that are unchangeable. 


Reach the columnist at alshah2@asu.edu or follow @aasheeni on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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