E! Online gets all deep today, when Kristen from West Bloomfield, Michigan asks E! Online’s Answer Bitch a telling question:
Why is it that physical features usually associated with African-American women are suddenly “so exotic” and “stunning” on white or Latina actresses? Examples: J.Lo’s ass or Scarlett Johansson’s lips. Janet Jackson’s butt has been amazing for years, and she doesn’t get all that hoopla!
As a result, The Answer Bitch turns un-bitchy and academic (which is super cool in our book) by suggesting that this inherent phenomenon has been alive and well since Bo Derek’s cornrows in 1979, which the media tagged as shocking and innovative, and can be traced forward to David Beckham’s “suddenly spectacular” braids. This tendency, she adds, marginalizes African Americans because by overlooking their contributions to style or beauty, it is technically ignoring them.
The truth behind your query is sad and embarrassing: In every society, the majority group sets the beauty standards. In America, that would be white people.
And—the Oprah and her bazillion-dollar empire notwithstanding—white people still run the media. Their values become America’s values. And that includes standards of beauty.
By praising Scarlett’s “exotic” lips, the media is basically “marginalizing black people,” says African-American blogger and publicist Manny Otiko. “The media is saying, We are not going to pay attention to this feature until a white person has it.”
Other examples that spring to mind for us include Kim Kardashian’s bum, Angelina Jolie’s lips and about half of the Victoria’s Secret Models (sans their booties of course, because as we all know, models have absolutely no booty).