Archive for the ‘opinions’ Category

Shine on, Miss America!

image courtesy vanity fair

Congratulations to Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri! You are gorgeous in the skin you’re in!

Remember– the key to beautiful skin is brightening, not lightening.

Want to join the conversation about Nina’s win and the Indian beauty ideal? Read on, and leave me your thoughts!

Miss America Nina Davuluri: Too ‘Indian’ to ever be Miss India

15 People Who Don’t Realize That #MissAmerica Is In Fact…American

[Stephen] Colbert Loses It Over Twitter’s Racist Reaction To Indian Miss America

Miss America and the Indian Beauty Myth

image courtesy syracus

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The dominance of media and its unbalanced emphasis on beauty has, unfortunately, made physical attractiveness an incredibly hot commodity.  While beauty has always been valued more than it should be, after all it is mostly based on one’s genetic luck, the growth of access that we have to images, news, opinions, etc. have pushed society’s obsession with beauty to a whole new level.  In this day and age, it’s more impossible than ever to claim that your appearance doesn’t matter – because it does.

That fact usually doesn’t bother me.  Why?  Well, one of the mantras of this blog, and an idea that Meg and I really believe in, is that beauty is a reflection of what is within: health, emotions, personality.  We believe that what is inside is reflected on the outside and that if a person is healthy, happy, and at peace that they will be more beautiful.  This is why we encourage healthy habits and positive lifestyles along with a well-matched concealer and tailored pants.

So, it usually doesn’t bother me because I think that striving for beauty encourages positive habits.  Well, that and because I like all things beauty.  However, starting this blog has made me think about the idea of beauty more and I came to this question:

How fake is too fake?

Can beauty truly be a reflection of health and happiness and whatever else is inside when there is so much that we fake?  Fake breasts, fake noses, fake hair color, fake eye color, fake eyelashes, even, to an extent with makeup and contouring, fake faces.  At what point does all this fake completely debunk my (admittedly idealistic) concept of beauty?  And, with all this pressure around for us to all be beautiful, can we blame anyone for a little fakery here and there?  How much is too much?

It’s all about perspective.  For example, to me plastic surgery is a big no no.  I would never change the structure of my face or drag the skin of my face up to look younger.  But what if I was a celebrity whose career hinges on looking beautiful, wouldn’t I do whatever it took to maintain my looks?

And what about the crap we have to put up with as Asian women?  Whitening skin products overflow the makeup counters in Asia.  Women walk around in long sleeves and with umbrellas on bright, sunny summer days.  Beautiful black hair is dyed brown; deep, dark eyes are turned light.  Some Asian women even get surgeries on their eyelids to make their eyes look larger and more deeply set.  It’s a sad fact that the beauty ideals perpetuated by many Asian cultures are based on standards that are naturally not our lot in life.

Some people say that these Asian beauty ideals are the result of years of western dominance: light skin, colored eyes, etc.  Others argue vehemently that these are the standards that Asian countries have always had – they argue that all beauty standards are incredibly hard to achieve and that if they weren’t, we wouldn’t consider them beautiful.  Personally, I think it’s a combination of both.

Unfortunately, I can’t give you an answer to my question.  How fake is too fake depends on you, on your life and your choices.  And no one should judge (though we all, inevitably do).  I would encourage us all to keep a healthy perspective upon beauty.  It can be great and fun and exciting, God only knows I love to get dressed up and go out, but it’s also important to check myself.

It’s not going to kill me if my makeup doesn’t look good today.  It’s not going to kill me if I eat a piece of cake.  It’s not going to kill me if my lips aren’t perfectly symmetrical.  It’s not going to kill me if I’m totally wearing the wrong shoes for my outfit.

In a world where there are so many standards thrust upon us, we need to remember that the only opinion that truly matters is our own.  Don’t be too influenced by everything out there, focus on what’s inside, on how you feel and what you think.  If you feel like you’re carrying more weight than you like, then lose it.  If you like your bushy eyebrows, keep them bushy.  As long as you’re happy and healthy that’s really all that matters.

 Of course Jolie Asie is a beauty blog and we’re going to write about beauty every day.  And we love it!  We love makeup and fashion and skincare and celebrities.  I’m sure you all do too!  (otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this absurdly long and rambling post)  I just hope we all keep it in perspective.  Beauty should be fun, it should never hurt us.  So, I hope you all enjoy our blog and can have fun with the information we put up here.  We sure have fun writing!  And remember that, at the end of the day, beauty should be about what makes you happy.

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Do you think Freida Pinto is beautiful or average-looking?

Would you say Aishwarya Rai’s looks are Indian or Western?

Who IS the “perfect” Indian woman? Who is the most beautiful Indian woman?

In this post I am going to attempt to address the SOCIALLY CONSTRUCTED Indian beauty ideal. I’ll look at the questions above and attempt to break down the expectations. Will this mean that if you don’t look like the women below, you’re not beautiful? Absolutely not. There are no heavenly-ordained guidlines for deciding who has perfect features and who does not- this post is addressing social constructs, culture and society, and a little history.

From ancient sculptures on the sides of temples to modern calendar art depicting Hindu goddesses, we find trends that inform us on what characteristics, through the ages, have been considered “most beautiful” in South Asia. Ancient poets wrote of women with flowers strung in their hair, whose feet were small and delicate as the lotus, who enticed their lovers with their generous breasts, small waists, and almond eyes.

So who, in modern times, physically embodies the Indian beauty ideal? South Indian actress Shriya Saran.

Shriya’s looks are “textbook” perfect for understanding the features most valued on Indian women for thousands of years:

ALMOND-SHAPED EYES: Her eyes are large and expressive, a quality valued for centuries in a nation proud of its culture of theatrical dance.

A STRAIGHT, SHARP NOSE: Shriya’s nose is prominent but sharp and straight, making it a noticeable but positive feature on her face.

FULL LIPS: No explanation needed here! Her full lips are a symbol of sexuality and fertility.

HAIRLESS BODY: Obviously a result of diligent hair removal, Shriya’s body is devoid of extraneous hair. Ancient poetry spoke of the appealing beauty of a woman “without down”.

THICK BLACK HAIR: Shriya keeps her hair long, representative of femininity, and her hair is thick and rich, a trait valued in Indian women as a sign of good health.

HOURGLASS FIGURE: Shriya is tall, but not drastically so; she is slim, but not willowy; her breasts and hips are ample (also suggestive of fertility), and her waist is narrow.

Now, let’s talk about Miss World and Bollywood-Hollywood actress Aishwarya Rai, whom the Queen of America Oprah Winfrey recognized as “the most beautiful woman in the world”. I agree, but why didn’t I name her the ideal Indian beauty? Two reasons: first, the light eyes. I love them, but they are, in the context of the social construct under discussion, an anomaly. In ancient India, light eyes were derogatorily called “cat’s eyes”. Second, her nose is crooked. Sorry. Otherwise- heck yes, she’d be the ideal!

While we’re on the subject of the light-skinned Aishwarya… you’ll notice I didn’t list FAIR SKIN up above. That’s because this is a questionable addition to the list. Yes, I’ll grant that many Indians value fair skin above dark skin. However, considering India’s very long cultural and religious history, and factors you’ll be bored by that I might discuss in a later post, it remains unclear as to whether or not this is a phenomenon primarily influenced by the Western beauty ideal (totally different ballgame) that has recently taken India by storm.

Moving on to Freida Pinto. This young Hollywood actress from Mumbai is considered beautiful and sexy in the United States, where she hit the scene in “Slumdog Millionaire”. But in India, she was a struggling model who achieved little notable success, and remains fairly unadmired in comparison to her popularity abroad. What gives?

Many Indians believe Freida’s looks to be average, dime-a-dozen. To understand this attitude, try and look at her in the context of what’s working for Shriya above. Freida’s eyes, by comparison, are small, her nose is slightly beaky and wide, and her lips are asymmetrical. Her jaw is squared, unlike Shriya’s and Aishwarya’s, whose jaws are chiseled and pointed at the chin. Her hair is fine, not thick (and yes, her skin is darker than the others’, I add grudgingly). Freida is also very petite- small in frame and small in the chest. While Freida’s looks allow her to fit in perfectly with the Hollywood crowd (read: Western beauty ideal), she would be lost among her Bollywood contemporaries.

While you may or may not personally agree or adhere to these beauty ideals, it can be important to understand perceptions of beauty within a larger cultural framework.

I hope this was illuminating!

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