As I write this, the big topic in my social media news feeds and among my peers is the casting of Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone. Aside from the underappreciation for darker skin in Hollywood, another topic springs up from time to time: the preference to create fake physical attributes instead of embracing those attributes when they occur naturally. In the case of Saldana and Simone, it was about darkening Saldana’s skin and adding prosthetics to make her appear more like the legendary singer.
This made me ponder the times that I’ve seen women who naturally have certain attributes but aren’t considered as beautiful as those who paid for those same attributes. This has nothing to do with race. It has everything to do with how beauty is perceived.
I am not knocking anyone who changes or enhances their looks via makeup, hair dye or cosmetic procedures. With the exception of cosmetic procedures — which I have not ruled out for myself — I enhance my own looks. I’ve dyed my hair and had it chemically straightened and heat straightened. I’ve worn body shapers, and of course I wear makeup. I am no stranger to the world of manufactured beauty.
What I have noticed over the years is that natural is preferred for almost everything but a woman’s physical appearance. However, when a woman uses a device, cosmetics or plastic surgery to gain certain attributes, this is glorified.
I think that, to a certain extent, this is not entirely new. However, with social media, it is more evident that people tend to find enhancements more striking than what nature created.
Take these physical attributes into consideration:
- Fake bronzed skin is preferred to naturally bronzed skin.
- Lip augmentation is preferred to naturally full lips.
- Natural curves are not seen as attractive as augmented breasts and butts.
- Big hair achieved with a blow dryer, curling iron, teasing comb and hair spray is beautiful and voluminous. On the other hand, a full mane of curls is seen as less desirable and dated (the dreaded ’80s hair).
- For makeup, a fake shine to the face is preferred to a person who has a natural sheen due to sebum production.
- Even red hair is glorified more in the media when it comes from a salon or box rather than a woman’s own hair follicles.
Do not mistake what I am saying here. There is nothing wrong with these enhancements. But why does it feel like a woman is not seen as beautiful when she naturally has these attributes? For me, natural and artificial enhancements can be both attractive and not so appealing, depending on the person. Yet I have to wonder if the artificial gets more love because there is an actual monetary value, a price tag, attached to it.