Women are continuously berated with messages telling them there is always something they can do to become beautiful. Racially diverse women are told that light skin is more beautiful and are inundated with cosmetics that bleach one’s skin. The same company approaches Caucasian women with tanning products, informing them that “exotic” women have a greater sex appeal. The dichotomy that exists between the ideal skin color of racially diverse women and Caucasian women subjects females to a hypocritical and unattainable ideal of beauty which makes them more easily marginalized.
Anastasia Higginbotham argues in her article “Teen Mags: How to Get a Guy, Drop 20 Pounds, and Lose Your Self Esteem” that the American media is nothing more than a “blur of contradictory messages” (Higginbotham, 96). Advertisements constantly present female consumers with catch-22 images, boasting clothing, accessories and make up that will improve their looks. Skin lightening and tanning creams provide women with this same self contempt, but at a greater cost. While make-up and apparel are fairly inconsequential commodities that can easily be altered, skin color is much more immutable and defining. “If they really wanted girls to love their bodies, they would give them a few more…colors to choose from” (Higginbotham, 96) observes Anastasia Higginbotham.
It goes without saying that relentless assessment of women against a paradoxical ideal of something so defining as skin tone decreases her sense of self worth. According to Naomi Wolf author of The Beauty Myth, constant judgment of arbitrary traits is “An ideology that makes women ‘feel worthless’… destroying women physically and depleting us psychologically” (Wolf, 124-125). Worn-out self esteem caused by relentless judgment of identifying traits like skin color makes women less competitive and easier to marginalize. Beauty is with out a doubt the “best belief system that keeps male dominance intact” (Wolf, 121).
Higginbotham, Anastasia. “Teen Mags: How to Get a Guy, Drop 20 Pounds, and Lose Your Self Esteem.” 93-96
Wolf, Naomi. “The Beauty Myth”. 120-125