Beauty is Only Skin Deep

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Three hands that have different skin tones altogether touching hands.

By Valeria Ramirez

Colorism in Mexico today, can be attributed to the ways in which the Latin American media,  until recently, featured predominantly light-skinned people in everything. From advertisements on television, billboards, to the cast of their favorite shows, and movies on television—these young brown-skinned children grew up seeing everything their parents are watching. This type of pressure can lead young women to many insecurities about their skin.

In the Mexican media, there is a prevalence of favoritism for light-skinned Hispanics and less representation for dark-skinned natives. It is concerning and yet heartbreaking when a country is prideful of their indigenous roots, but are critical of the skin color they have. The perfect beauty ideology is ingrained into the thousands of young women who believe that the whiter they are the more accepted they are in society. I have not personally experienced this, but I have seen many of my friends who go through this process. Many of their families criticized them for being dark-skinned or even praise them for being a lighter tone. I’ve seen the pressure and emotional distressed that some of my friends go through just to chase an unrealistic beauty standard.

This insecurity is pressurized and internalized in the Mexican society to the point where many young girls are lead to use harmful skin lightening products to bleach their skin. Colorism is an epidemic in Latin American countries that not only affect Mexico, but in many appearances based countries. Even though I haven’t been pressurized to lighten my skin, I have dealt with many insecurities about my body and weight. Whether this is directly correlated to my exposure to this biased media I do not know, but all my life I can tell you that I used to always look at myself in the mirror and feel ashamed or pick at the body parts that I wanted to get rid of. I remember whenever someone takes a photo of me I felt ugly and I criticize the way I look. It was a never-ending cycle of insecurity based on media standards. I ended up finding ways to lose weight from skipping meals to counting calories. I thought the only way for me to be happy was to be skinny. During this process, I felt increasingly unsatisfied with myself, but I learned to embraced all the imperfections that I had. These women go through hell feeling unaccepted because of what color they are.

The main reason for colorism in Latin society is to achieve an appearance or likeness to those of in the United States. United States standards set the bar high for beauty and many countries try to mimic those standards. So, to move up in life or gain an occupation, many women go through skin bleaching to remove their color. Many families stress for their children to be a lighter skin tone because when entering the United States these children will have a higher chance of getting opportunities. This type of ideology needs to stop influencing the youth to take upon a drastic change of appearance. This mindset affects the way a person views themselves and never allows them to take pride for who they are. Being a Latina is something to be empowered and should be embraced. No matter how dark a skin tone is, they are blessed by the sun and carry the traits of their history. Beauty standards should never get in the way of accepting who you are or where you come from. It should be set aside and never interfere the love and acceptance of oneself no matter what skin color we carry.

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