Feminist: Beauty Standards Are ‘Toxic’

Women are victims of ‘oppressive Western standards’

“Patriarchal, Eurocentric standards” of beauty are “rooted in racism and ableism . . . xenophobia, imperialism, and white supremacy,” according to an article by a self-described “queer feminist” writer. Western beauty standards are “toxic,” and “queer/nonwhite/nonconforming” people are victims of these “limited, oppressive Western standards,” Maya Gittleman wrote in an article at the “radical self-love” site The Body Is Not an Apology.

“When beauty is a standard and the only standards of beauty are Eurocentric — and aggressively mired in sexist, cissexist restrictions of the gender binary — we all lose,” Gittelman wrote, asserting that these standards create “a culture of toxicity, other-hatred, and self-hatred that we must fight.”

Gittleman is half-Filipino and says she “grew up queer and mixed race in a Christian upbringing,” She has written articles with headlines like “5 Ways to Help Kids Think Outside the Gender Binary” and “7 Ways to Celebrate a Radical Valentine’s Day (Without Falling Into Heteronormative Scripts).” She majored in English at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where the annual cost of attendance (tuition, room and board) is more than $60,000. Her attack on “beauty standards” includes an indictment of America:

America was forged with genocides, physical and cultural. From the forced cultural assimilation of the Indigenous peoples to the dehumanization of Black lives in the slave trade to the respectability politics that emerged from Jim Crow through today, the standard of “civilization” has been defined by the white colonizer. So has the standard of “beauty.”
Those descended from non-white cultures are emasculated, assimilated, disrespected, or fetishized, often all at once.
Patriarchal, Eurocentric standards capitalize on beauty and its perceived relationship to value. Standards of attraction are created, centering the cis-het, white, abled, upper-class conforming body, and hatred and anxiety are bred against those which cannot conform. This is rooted in racism and ableism. This is rooted in xenophobia, imperialism, and white supremacy — the ingrained understanding of “us vs. them,” who is civil and valid vs. who is savage and lesser. Capitalism and white supremacy exploits this anxiety, extorts money for products that promise, not just that you will look “better,” but that you will finally fit in.

Gittelman offers advice to readers on how to “move away from Eurocentric beauty standards, and towards radical self-love,” such as:

Remember that Eurocentric beauty standards have been a tool for destruction and dehumanization throughout history, and you refuse to be a part of that tool. Destroy internalized misogyny, ingrained racism.

On her Instagram page, Gittelman said this article was “especially cathartic and meaningful for me to write.” She is an activist who traveled to D.C. to protest Donald Trump’s inauguration and attend the Women’s March. Gittelman said she “felt some kind of uncomfortable white feminist vibes today amid all the rage and glory” at the Women’s March. However, she was “proud to have stood, with half a million anti-trump folks, against white supremacy, toxic masculinity, rape culture, bigotry, ignorance, and hate.”

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