For those of you who missed it, Nicki Minaj was not nominated for a VMA for the "Anaconda" music video, and she has been making a wonderful point on Twitter over the last few days:
The American media has a very specific (white) aesthetic (skinny) for female sexiness/beauty.
(There was quite a Twitter exchange about it with Taylor Swift, but it's over and that's not really my point).
My point is that I didn't see Nicki's point right away.
And it's not cause I'm white. It's not because I'm skinny.
It's because I'm from Hawaii.
Out here, the skinny white girl thing is not a thing. Don't get me wrong, the under-clad, underage girl thing is big out here, but not on skinny white girls. Curvy, darker skinned girls are celebrated and adored. Boys gush over "thick chicks" and people work as hard as they can to have a soft, toned beach body. One that's rarely a size 2.
So, the first time I saw the "Anaconda" video, I was like, "oh." I didn't see the revolutionary nature of celebrating dark, curvy girls. It didn't feel unique to me. Then, I moved to California for college. Suddenly, I started to get the point. People liked the aesthetic that, for my whole life, was about as interesting as plain white rice. I realized that I had grown up in the beauty Twilight Zone of America.
I am not trying to down-play Nicki's statement for the United States. It's largely needed. However, there's something I realized: the beauty standard is not a standard and is not beautiful. I'm from America and America's beauty standard does not apply.
Beauty is found in uniqueness and individuality, in a striking something that is not what everyone else has. For Snow White, it was blue eyes and black hair. For Demi Lovato, it's a cleft chin and a "I will win" attitude. For Tyra Banks, it's green eyes (and her whole freaking existence from top to bottom). For Allison Mack, it's the way her smile looks like she is maybe sad. And beauty is internal as much as external. A stained-glass window is beautiful because light shines through it. People work like that.
Beauty, by nature, cannot be standardized. It cannot have dimensions put on it. As soon as beauty - real beauty - is given a race and a size, it is stripped of beauty and becomes a commodified product. People are beautiful. Measurements are not.
Our American "Beauty Standard" is messed up. It under-represents and whitewashes. But you know what? It's also pointless. Beauty is not determined by popular vote. Nicki was right: more women of color should be represented. Women of different sizes should be represented. No one should be made to feel inferior because they aren't the popular look.
What do you think about the beauty standard? What was the standard when/where you were growing up? Tell me in the comments!