I understand that people who do this are coming from a good place. They want to celebrate beauty that is outside of the normalized set of European features we usually celebrate. But white skin doesn’t make one look any less non-European. The fact that some WOC of color have white skin, a small nose, large eyes, and high cheekbones doesn’t make them “European looking.” It’s insulting because it takes their physical features away from their own heritage and insists that because these features are normalized, they are no longer a part of their ethnic heritage and are now instead “European.”
Jezebel had posted a cover for Indian Vogue that featured a lot of Indian models (yay!), and most of the comments were fixated on how light everyone’s skin is. This is definitely an issue in Indian media, and one that should be pointed out whenever it happens because it is important that beauty not be linked to the lightness of your skin. However, what I found incredibly obnoxious was the number of comments that went along the lines of, “They’re so pale, they don’t look Indian.” They do look Indian! How can they not look Indian! They’re Indian! We’re not all dark. We’re just as diverse in appearance as Europeans. It’s possible to discuss the need for more images of women who do not conform to our normalized European sense of beauty (which isn’t really as static as some people seem to think) without saying that non-European women who meet these standards are actually “European” in appearance instead of attributing their features to their own heritage.
Also: what exactly does European mean? A Swedish woman looks nothing like a woman from Kosovo who, in turn, looks completely different from a French woman. All of them are equally European, however, their complexions, features, hair types, etc will be totally different from one another. So even calling someone “European” is so generic to the point of being meaningless.
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