The media seems to make people of color culturally insignificant when they are trying to define someone as beautiful. It has become seemingly more noticeable that the media representation of a colored woman is not beautiful, but rather exotic. In other words, the term exotic grows to be not only an offensive way to describe a person's skin tone, but it also a negative way to define beauty. If it isn't clear to you already, this negative connotation stems for a long line of white oppressors. According to The Atlantic, the media is composed of mostly white writers. These writers utilize the term "exotic" to define a person of color. It is a common misconception that for a woman to be considered beautiful, she must have a certain skin tone. But let's question why we think a woman's skin tone defines her beauty? Why must the media use any word other than beautiful in defining one's beauty?
Let's start out with Kim Kardashian.
First of all, there are plenty of people that have no idea how Kim Kardashian got her skin tone. Well, it is most likely from spending a lot of money getting fake tans. Regardless, because people have no idea how Kim got that evening glow, they think her skin tone is exotic. Media doesn't bother ask her. They just call her skin exotic. They think she stands out because they can't connect her to a specific place of origin. Therefore, in the media, she is unique. She is neither Black, nor hispanic, but rather the exotic looking white woman. But why do we let conventional wisdom assume that the exoticness of one's skin tone defines beauty?
The media has continued to emphasize the Snow White racist beauty standards.
[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F07%2F29%2F636053777917614219-711343533_meslow%2520snow%2520white%2520banner.jpg&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=44&h=ab5c34425e59860a9c28dfd75442cc43eba6f02ac8759813e5346abef0817766&size=980x&c=3812272466 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F07%252F29%252F636053777917614219-711343533_meslow%252520snow%252520white%252520banner.jpg%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D44%26h%3Dab5c34425e59860a9c28dfd75442cc43eba6f02ac8759813e5346abef0817766%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3812272466%22%7D" expand=1 original_size="1x1"]In Snow White, the evil queen envied Snow White's beauty because her skin was as white as snow. "The Atlantic" writer Scott Meslow (2012) says:
"There's a subtle racism at play in the Grimms's original story, which holds that "skin white as snow" is the highest form of beauty, but a parodic 1943 Merrie Melodies short, Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs is so hideously, unforgivably racist that it's hard to know where to begin. "
Till today, it appears that the media thinks you have to be white in order to be beautiful.
What is the historical reference to the term "exotic?"
[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F07%2F29%2F636053780469225706468444102_beyonce-vogue.jpg%3Fw%3D700&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=315&h=131618076b09a861ba489d923afb387185d2c3a0e25f25fdab240d032431b62f&size=980x&c=4102624866 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F07%252F29%252F636053780469225706468444102_beyonce-vogue.jpg%253Fw%253D700%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D315%26h%3D131618076b09a861ba489d923afb387185d2c3a0e25f25fdab240d032431b62f%26size%3D980x%26c%3D4102624866%22%7D" expand=1 original_size="1x1"]According to sociologist Kamala Kempadoo "Gender, Race, and Sex: Exoticism in the Caribbean,"
"Exoticism - the romanticization of the racial, ethnic or cultural Other, yet the simultaneous oppression and exploitation that occurs with it - has been discussed as part of the practice and ideology of earlier colonial and imperialist projects (Said 1979, Alloula 1986, Khabbani 1986, Rousseau and Porter 1990, Hentsch 1991, Lewis 1996, Ye_eno_lu 1998, di Leonardo 1998)."
In other words, the term "exotic" doesn't have any positive correlations to it. So why does the media continue to use it?
Exotic has almost become a beauty standard for any woman who isn't white.
Due to a combination of racism and white privilege, there are plenty of women, who don't identify as white, that are placed in a category as "exotic." The word becomes a tool to define their beauty and it is leveled with the stereotypical blonde, blue eyed, very Eurocentric white beauty.
What about magazines?
Many of us have the guilty pleasure of taking out a magazine and keeping updated with the newest beauty trends. You see magazine covers call women of color exotic. Although, why are we calling skin exotic? Why is skin tone one of the definitives of defining beauty? Magazines like Vogue create stereotypes about women, especially women of color, that they can be beautiful if they appear exotic. But when magazines are utilizing the term “exotic,” they are claiming that these women are the exotic white. In turn, this word is offensive, let alone racist, to many minority communities. Magazines fail to accept these women as proud black women. Instead they are “exotic.”
With all this in mind, why do white women alter the color of their skin to look beautiful?
Why do they tan their skin instead of just being happy with the skin they have? Why do we hate on the Black woman for being too dark, when the White woman is only trying to darken her complexion? The White woman seems to secretly want to be the Black woman, but still not be her.
Should another truly love us for the color of our skin?
Aren't there more attractive physical traits about a person besides their skin? Perhaps consider the softness of one's lips or the fullness of one's hair as other attractive traits. Why doesn't the media discuss these traits instead?
Therefore, we must eliminate the superiority complex of having to be a certain skin tone in order to look beautiful.
It will be normal to be beautiful and be a black girl, because one's skin tone is not the determining factor of one's beauty. It will be normal to be a white girl and not have the same skin tone as Taylor Swift to define the beautiful white superiority.