CNN’s “post-racial” analysis is not post-sucky

In this article, CNN claimed that so-called “ethnic” women are becoming the new beauty norm to which American women aspire.

Here, roughly following the order in which the article introduced the various issues, is my rebuttal of this appalling misleading piece:

1. “Ethnic?” To whom?  Aren’t we all “ethnic” in some way?  Starting the article off with this misnomer is a dead giveaway to the rest of the article’s content…

2. “There was a time when the Caucasian girl-next-door looks of Christie Brinkley, Cindy Crawford and more recently Kate Moss dominated the fashion pages. Then came new fashion icons: Naomi Campbell, Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce – and then Giselle, Kim Kardashian and Shakira.”

First, you start with “the fashion pages.”  Yes, those three women did dominate.  Then you move to Naomi Campbell…still a model…so is Gisele.  (Yes, they even spelled her name wrong.)

J. Lo, Beyonce, and Shakira are all pop stars, while Kardashian is a weird porn star.  In all four cases, we are not necessarily valuing the women for their beauty (although it’s definitely a contributing factor), but instead for the substantive contributions they’ve made to our culture — acting, music, lame porn, and boring reality TV, respectively.  None is famous BECAUSE she is beautiful.

Moreover, none of these women actually are “in the fashion pages.”  If you look at the catwalks today, they are actually LESS ethnically diverse than they were in the early 90s!  Over 90% of high fashion models are white, and the Baltic/Central European look has been in for numerous seasons.  (Furthermore, although Gisele’s ancestors have lived in Brazil for several generations, she’s actually solely German and Italian, and doesn’t have a drop of indigenous, or even Iberian, blood.)

Finally, all four of these” ethnic” women are EXCEPTIONALLY light-skinned for their supposed ethnic aesthetic.  Coincidence?  I think not.

3. “More voluptuous figures, fuller lips and darker skin, features traditionally associated with women of African, Latin and Asian cultures, are “in.”

All three listed items are mere features.  These individual characteristics may be more popular than in the past, but the media just wants them one at a time, not all at once.  Basically, we might want PART of a Black woman, but we sure don’t want the whole package. (I’ll unpack each in more detail as we move through the piece.)

4. “What’s not to love, embrace and emulate about ethnic beauty?” said Us Weekly fashion director Sasha Charnin Morrison. “The use of curvier, more rounded figures looks refreshing.”

How are curves “ethnic?”  Women’s desired weight fluctuates with the times, but usually reflects whatever the norm is for a culture’s wealthiest women.  A hundred years ago, the pinnacle of American beauty would be a woman we now consider chubby.  Today, we value thinner women, as our wealthiest women also tend to be the thinnest.  Let’s face it: it’s way easier to stay thin when you can afford Whole Foods and a personal trainer.

Again, which woman has really been lauded as the face of the “curvy” movement lately?  Christina freaking Hendricks!  You may know her as Joan Holloway, or maybe even Joan Harris, but I know her as fucking walking sex (at least in Season One).  She’s very “in” right now, which I do totally approve of.  Again, though, please consider that of all the so-called “curvy” women in the public eye, most of them are NOT white, and yet their Prom Queen is a white woman.  And on a relevant tangent, over the past two years, Mad Men has been the most popular television show among households with an annual income of $100,000 or more…

5. “Lip plumping and injections, techniques used to achieve fuller lips, remain popular among Caucasian women, said Dr. Ashkan Ghavami, a plastic surgeon based in Beverly Hills, California.”

Again, this could be indicative of us being more accepting of “ethnic” women.  However, it’s much more likely that we embrace fuller lips because our lips and faces actually thin with age.  Fuller lips are the dominion of the young, whose beauty we’ve always valued over even pre-middle-aged women’s.

6. “Ronald Gavin, a 32-year-old single man from Tampa, Florida, agrees. ‘I mean let’s face it, ethnic women have this exotic appeal — it’s the curves and the fact that they don’t have this carbon-copy look like anyone else.'”

First off, let me just say that I would never date this douchenozzle, as any guy who’s so freaking oblivious that he actually gets quoted saying this (instead of just thinking this) is obviously completely retarded.  (Suck it, Palin.)

Mr. Gavin’s statement is just another in the centuries-long colonialist/Orientalist Western narrative.  The master may love to fuck the slave, but he sure doesn’t bring her home to Mama.

(Also, he thinks Asian women “don’t look like anyone else?”  I bet if I dropped him, or any other white-centric man, in China, he’d be convinced that all 1 billion + people look the same.)

7. “Bottoms and lips are not the only ethnic features women are raging about, according to Ying Chu, Marie Claire beauty and health director. An obsession with rich, brown-skin complexions have boosted the sales of self-tanning products, and aspirations for bouncy, silky straight hair has attracted women to Brazilian and Japanese hair straightening, said Chu.”

Man, this analysis is getting pedestrian.  My semi-loyal reader doesn’t need to be told the following:

-Again, today, we associate having a tan with wealth, as it connotes the ability to have enough time to either go on vacation or go to a tanning salon.  Please not that darker skin does NOT seem to make non-Caucasian women or men more desirable.  For example, those American-branded skin lightening creams in India, orrr the fact that lighter-skinned African-Americans are much more successful in our society than darker-skinned ones.

-Straight hair?  Seriously?  How many African-American women are continually told their hair is no good because it’s not straight?  Since when is straight hair a non-white thing?  Just because the procedures are Japanese and Brazilian doesn’t mean they represent either culture’s natural beauty.

***

This article is especially problematic not because of its specific content, but because it again reinforces this idea of our so-called “post-racial” America.  It panders to the mainstream liberal-ish narrative that we all love people of all races and never see color, and that color doesn’t matter.

This article is, frankly, dangerous BECAUSE it further enables mainstream Americans to pretend that our racial problems do not exist.  That is a damn lie.  All AA members know the first step to recovery is admitting they have a problem.  The majority of white, wealthy-ish, highly-educated, white-collar American liberals needs to do the same, and CNN has an ethical responsibility to stop spewing this touchy-feely misleading bullshit.

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