Why Are Natural Ethnic Features Only Trendy On White People?
Assessing the societal shifts as it pertains to racial features
For a long time now natural ethnic features have been looked down on by society, often being described as undesirable. Bipoc have faced tremendous amounts of ridicule and discrimination towards features that they were born with. Despite this, there have been two instances that stand out to me, that show society accrediting non-people of colour for their transformation of these features as a new aesthetic and standard of beauty.
Let's discuss the societal shift towards bigger/fuller lips and Asian eyes.
This shift particularly focuses on featurism, the angle that looks into the lens of other ethnicities' features as being commended and transformed into a new ideal of beauty but only on a differing race.
Fuller and bigger lips
Over the past few years, I have noticed that the features that black women have always had are being treated as a new aesthetic. When a famous celebrity decides to adopt that facial feature. When I was younger having bigger lips was seen as unattractive and unsightly. Often — being the only black girl throughout most of my academic life in primary school — I was bullied for having lips that were larger than my classmates. However, in 2015 I noticed a monumental shift in which the way larger lips were viewed.
In 2015 when Kylie Jenner got and acknowledged that she had lip fillers, society revised their attitudes towards bigger lips. Getting lip fillers and injections became normalised, and for the first time accepted by society as a new wave of beauty. It wasn't until someone who was not black got their lips done cosmetically to appear fuller, society praised it as if it was new. Meanwhile, black women have had full lips all along.
For many of us black women, we have grown up hearing that our features are overly large and masculine. Now with the emergence of cosmetic adjustment alterations, they are suddenly seen as alluring and in the subset of the pinnacle point of beauty.
Black lips are not a trend.
Fox eye trend
Fox eye, a look that involves shaving off the tail end of your eyebrows (eliminating everything from the arch to the tail) to draw on a straighter brow; using a brown or black eyeshadow to create a sharp, cat-eye flick up towards the temples; and then, adding a touch of the same eyeshadow to the inner corners of your eyes pointing towards the bridge of your nose. The final look creates the illusion of upturned, slanted eyes.( — Via HelloGiggles)
On Tiktok, the hashtag #foxeye has already accumulated 72.8 million views, while on Instagram, the hashtag #foxeyes has more than 70,000 posts. The fox eye trend and eye gesture mimics the eye shape Asian people have been ridiculed for.
This trend is evidently racist towards Asian people given the gesture that is made when posing for a picture while wearing this makeup look. The pose is achieved by holding the skin up by your eye to create a slanted look. It has been popularised and expressed as ''quirky and pretty'' when a white person does it.
The problem is rooted in the hand gesture — a single action that, for many Asians, can trigger memories of ridicule.
Society fails to acknowledge that for centuries, Asians have been bullied and harassed for having smaller and slanted eyes. Asians have grown up hearing songs:Upward for Japanese. To the side for Chinese. Downward for Korean), that mock their eye shape, being asked if they are able to see. Moreover, seeing white celebrities and influencers use this as some sort of look, is racially insensitive and triggering for many Asians due to the traumas they have faced for their natural ethnic eye feature.
Asian people aren’t applauded for their genetics, but when celebrities like Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner used the fox eye look and gesture society shifted their perception of the beauty behind Asian eyes. Only when a non-Asian did it did they receive praise because it is being used for aesthetic purposes.
Asian eyes are not a trend.
The impact of this social phenomenon
2. Takes away from cultural pride Bipoc
3. Offensive and triggering
5. Accredits white people for features that belong to Bipoc
Where do we go from here?
Through the investigations and observations of BIPOC people, we can conclude that our natural ethnic features — that have been subjected to droves of sneering — are only deemed as attractive when the opposing race popularises it. We can allude to the fact that most of the time society accredits our natural features to white people has the originators of beautifying our features.
As a society, it is essential that we acknowledge the simple fact that Bipoc have been subject to years worth of mockery because of the features they were born with. We can learn that when ethnic features are only popularised when non-Bipoc adopt them into their look and set them as a new standard of beauty. Despite these features being present all along, only to perpetuated in opposing races.
From my personal experience, I can affirm that it is damaging to one's self-esteem to face ridicule for your natural features. Then conversely go on to see someone of a different race appropriate that specific feature and have it glorified by society.
However, we can change the notion around this.
We should make an active effort to call out when this occurs.
We should embrace and celebrate natural ethnic features.
Call out the racism that targets our cultures and ethnic backgrounds.
If society were to implement these steps it would help in dismantling the harmful effects of racism and appropriation being normalised, helping us progress as a whole. Enabling us to leave the layers of oppression that have been linked to Bipoc as a whole.