Over the course of centuries, beauty standards have changed. This makes total sense as ideals change, society changes and there are different factors that influence someone's ideals of beauty.
Historically, paler women were always seen as more beautiful. Of course, other cultures valued their darkness or paleness of their women, but once colonialization happened, those ideals changed. Lighter skin was seen as beautiful and closer to cleanliness, while darker skin was seen as dirty and/or evil. In a sense, lighter skin deemed you superior or smarter than others.
Personally, I find everyone beautiful. It took me a long time to see that. I was influenced by the Western standards of beauty, where pale skin and thin bodies were seen as beautiful. In an earlier article, I even recounted that as a child I wanted blonde hair and blue eyes because that's what I thought that beauty meant. As an African American child growing up seeing a lack of her people in media culture, it wasn't really a surprise.
Now, I see the beauty in everyone. I see the beauty in the unconventionally beautiful, with the sharp planes in their faces and cheekbones that could cut diamonds; the disabled, with smiles that light up their faces even if the world is against them; and in those girls that have seemingly too little melanin or seemingly too much. Even though I haven't mentioned other types of beauty, I see those as well.
Since there was a beauty standard to uphold, the pressures of society changed and so did the idea of what beauty was. Natural hair on African American women was seen as a bad thing (it's not as bad now, thanks to the Natural Movement), as there was an "appropriate" size for women. I've seen comments on pictures in which women have shamed other women for being a bigger size, even if the subject of the picture has said time and time again that they were healthy. I've seen comments criticizing women for getting plastic surgery, comments about women that are exercising during pregnancy, and even comments about girls being too thin. It's like women can't have a break and are always told that whatever they do, they aren't beautiful.
Thanks to the 21st century and the extensive use of technology, different types of women and beauty are becoming more widespread. The same comments that criticize women are also torn down with overwhelming comments that compliment women. Movements have been created, like the natural movement and the body positivity movement. Seeing the individual beauty of women everywhere is becoming more of the norm, and it is changing society and culture.
We can only hope that this view and positivity can extend to everyone as the future approaches.