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Review: The ethnic beauty 'it' factor and E-pop



Writing on CNN.com, Liane Membis asks "Is ethnic beauty the new 'it' factor?" Referring to those in the West, she suggests that "women who desire a more exotic appearance are looking to the fashion world's growing multiculturalism for inspiration."

APSG Comment: Which Western women could she be talking about? The typical American forty year old woman is looking to reverse aging changes while preserving natural features. "More exotic" is not on her shopping list.

ethnic beauty


The author quotes Dr. Nancy Etcoff, a Harvard Medical School psychologist, as asserting that evolving beauty standards reflect a growing sense of multi-cultural awareness encouraged by shifts in demographics. Fair enough.

The article then takes a leap forward and suggests that ethnic women are not just embracing such trends but actively setting them. And who are these bold women leading the charge? The author refers only to a string of pop entertainers like Beyoncé and Jennifer Lopez as the "new fashion icons."

APSG Comment: But are they really? Or is this just another example of the popular media's fixation on hot celebrity -- the West's very own version of the K-pop crazies, or E-pop. Rumor has it that Beyoncé recently underwent surgical nose and lip reductions or is at least now applying her makeup in a new way to downplay ethnic features. Same for most of the other celebrities mentioned.

Ying Chu, Marie Claire beauty and health director, notes that this "obsession" that women are "raging about" has boosted sales of beauty products ranging from self-tanning lotions to darker hair dyes.

APSG Comment: While the driving force behind K-pop is indeed its spill-over commercial boost, the language here seems a tad hyperbolic.

And at the heart of this proclaimed new obsession is said to be a "desire for individuality" as opposed to becoming just another "carbon copy...cookie-cutter American beauty."

APSG Comment: As in, "I want to look fresh and unique -- exactly like my favorite pop star."

Not everyone knowledgable on such topics seems to be buying into the industry party line. Sasha Muradali of littlepinkbookpr.com, a blog following pop culture and beauty trends, believes that altering one's appearance still has "little to do with race and ethnicity and more to do with the obsession to perfection." She says, "We are all raging about the curves of Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian, but at the same time the media is telling girls that they need to be a size zero."

APSG Comment: Schizophrenic, for sure, although the media has never understood the difference between glamour and beauty. But never mind. Confusion begets anxiety, which begets insecurity, which has been known to beget an irresistible urge in the impressionable to begin shopping for new products and services they didn't know they needed. While the growing acceptance of ethnic diversity is a gratifying trend, big business and the popular media seem awfully determined to manufacture a breakout.

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The ethnic beauty 'it' factor and E-pop