[Quick Hit] So Gwyneth Paltrow is the “Worlds Most Beautiful Woman?” Yeah Fucking Right.

Welp, the verdict is in: Gwyneth Paltrow is officially the WORLDS MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN!

Anyone else completely unimpressed and not at all shocked by this news, show of hands?

When it comes to wide cultural rankings of beauty (world, national etc) it’s almost imperative that a white woman (preferably with keen, traditionally Euro-centric features) is deemed representational of these idealistic standards. This is the safe choice. It’s the assumption (fueled by problematic privileged thinking) that the beauty of women like Gwyneth Paltrow is somehow unanimous, almost common knowledge. The notion of, “who in the ENTIRE WORLD could argue with the fact that she’s so beautiful?!”

Oh, i dont know, maybe: black, Latino, Asian, and Indigenous women, lesbian and transgender women, non-American women, any group of women that does not co-sign in the presumption that western, white, blonde hair, blue eyed, skinny, hetereonormative femininity is beautiful.

What’s worse is that there isn’t even a democracy in the matter. It’s not like Paltrow ran for Most Beautiful Woman and was elected so by some individual popular vote so that at least this title would be a statement of fact. But her beauty was just decided for us. (and by who? some editors at People?) from an extremely subjective standpoint.

And while People is not the only magazine that participates in this bullshit, they are apart of the larger problem that forces marginalized ideas of beauty onto us without our permission. We are told not asked, who is beautiful. We have images “bestowed” upon us, without ever taking into account our multicultural differences or preferences (like the fact that many southern blacks who actually think women look better with curves, unlike the waif-like Paltrow). While white women have the option of either negotiating or rejecting these Westernized beauty standards, women of color do not. Biology dictates that even if we did concede with these standards we would never, physically, be able to fit them. And so we internalize these images, and hope to be acknowledged as at least “pretty for a black/Latino/Asian girl”—-like an anomaly of beauty. The essentialism of this beauty, and our physical incapability to achieve it then marks us as “ugly” by default.

The part that pisses me off the most is the implicit subtext that implies that beauty is not actually subjective and relative to your racial, gender, sexual, and geographical perspective but that there is an objective specification, an actual prototype of attractiveness and Gwyneth Paltrow is it. That YOUR ideas about what is and isn’t hot aren’t valid, that they dont represent “universal” beauty. That your skin and face and hair and body aren’t needed in this space, because “we’ve” already excluded you from it.

The underrepresention of women of color in mainstream media beauty (and the discourse around it) is nothing new. But the audacity with which these beauty standards are held up as the ideal (and trump the ones that WE have defined) will no longer be tolerated.

So fuck you People. I don’t think Gwyneth Paltrow is the most beautiful woman in the world. Or the country. Or even in Hollywood. And I don’t have to because I don’t have to comply in the desirability of women who look nothing like me. Because I decide what the fuck that means, not you.

Seat. Have one. Now.

 

 

[PS: please do not begin your comments by saying that  "Beyonce was put on the cover last year." I realized this beforehand and that fact has exactly zero effect on everything I've said above. Beyonce has huge commercial success that crosses multi racial/cultural lines which makes her a "safe" token minority (along with Halle Berry) that mainstream media can point to to prove they've met their diversity quota. If Beyonce made the cover ten years in a row I'd STILL critique it (perhaps even more harshly) because her brand of beauty (light skinned, straight blonde hair, westernized heteronormative) is not only forced upon me within the black community, but represents the bare minimum level of  "exoticism" the mainstream media is willing to tolerate. Not only that, but conveniently pointing out a few exceptional minorities that have "made it" does not change the current dominant standard of beauty that Gwyneth Paltrow  still upholds, which has it's worst effect on women of color. (Black and brown women around the world aren't exactly  having cosmetic surgery to look more "ethnic" are they? ) so now that you've gotten that out of your system lets have a real discussion, shall we? ]

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14 thoughts on “[Quick Hit] So Gwyneth Paltrow is the “Worlds Most Beautiful Woman?” Yeah Fucking Right.

  1. I love when bs beauty standards are forced fed to me! Now I know exactly why black women are so scientifically unattractive, none of them look like Gwyneth Paltrow!

  2. Kelly says:

    Didn’t Beyonce win last year?

    • negress007 says:

      And? My argument still stands. First of all, I’m completely unimpressed that they put Beyonce on the cover last year. She has huge commercial mainstream appeal that crosses racial/cultural boundaries and is the “safe” go-to token minority (along with Hallee Berry) when the media needs to fulfill their “diversity” quota. And even if Beyonce were put on the cover ten years in a row I would STILL be calling bullshit on it. Beyonce is still light skinned, with straight blonde hair, and fits in with Western hetereonormative femininity, and I still don’t want to HER brand of beauty forced upon me, even within the black community. Not only that, but conveniently pointing to a few exceptional minorities that have navigated mainstream barriers does not at all change the current dominant standard of beauty that Gwyneth Paltrow still and will continue to represent. Stop.

      • Sana says:

        Couldn’t agree more with your response re: Beyonce.

        It actually reminds me of a point Michelle Alexander makes in New Jim Crow about how dominant, oppressive structures in fact, depend on exceptionalism because they allow oppressors to point to token people of color (Beyonce, Obama, etc) to excuse themselves of any responsibility whatsoever for oppressive practices and actions.

        Are we supposed to applaud the fact that because of these exceptions whiteness dominates now only 99.9% of the time?? And that’s not even taking into consideration the *serious* limitations even then for the types of people of color they will include, and what “inclusion” really means and for who.

        Thanks for writing such a great, poignant post!

      • negress007 says:

        Exactly! I loved the New Jim Crow and the point she made regarding that. People, particularly in the dominant group, tend to understand oppression only in extremely overt and literal terms. The new racism requires the embrace of colorblindness as a guise of “progress” without ever confronting the REAL problem: patriarchy and white supremacy. So Beyonce acts as a “I’m not a racist see?” card so that, as you said, we can ignore the other 99% of the time it doesn’t. Great point, and thanks for reading.

  3. M.K. Hajdin says:

    Beauty is an oppressive concept when applied to human beings. The “who’s the fairest of them all” competition pits women against each other so that they don’t realize who’s oppressing them and band together to resist.

    And of course there’s never any “who’s the most beautiful male” magazine covers, because men, being fully human, don’t yearn for beauty. They don’t need it, because they are already accepted by society.

    • negress007 says:

      Exactly! The aim, I think, is to keep us to preoccupied with our “flaws” and the mass consumerism needed to “correct” said flaws that we never look up and notice, call bullshit, and consciously decide to stop ranking ourselves by a system that was never ours begin with.

      And yes, no male beauty rags, maybe an occasional “sexiest man” cover (usually of a white dude with a lot hair for some reason) whose sexuality/masculinity is tied to his appeal. Women get “sexiest woman”, but only in the context of straight men’s magazines like Maxim. I think there’s a weird Madonna/whore complex going on within mainstream magazines that’s worth looking into. Thanks for the comment.

    • Maria Avalon says:

      Beauty is not an oppressive concept to human beings. It is the recognition of another person as physically attractive and we all have differing standards on what we like and what is physically attractive. The idea of finding women beautiful is not a demeaning idea it is in fact a good thing as it is loving and recognizing another person’s features as appealing. Also what shit are you smoking men wish to be beautiful just like women. There are many sexy men covers and magazines depicting sexy men. If you don’t think that men have pressure to look good then you are just foolish. Really this speaks from a typical sex negative view which holds that people can not be respected and be considered beautiful. It speaks from the point of view of a person who feels ugly themselves and thus wishes to make the whole world ugly so everyone will be on the same standard as themselves. Beauty is a wonderful concept of people respecting and loving their fellow human’s features.

  4. bubbamuntzer says:

    1.
    2. Angela Davis
    3. Vanessa Williams
    4. Lisa Bonet
    5. Ingrid Bergman
    6. Tamika Mallory
    7. Ruby Dee
    8. Samah Sabawi
    9. Donna Reed
    10. Dianna Buttu

  5. ronnie alexander says:

    i know this doesnt have anything to do with the subject matter at hand but why does erotic films only show the worst in people of color the whole mandingo complex please have a talk about that. peace in the middle east

  6. [...] so clear than in the most elusive of compliments for women: the word “beautiful”. Ignoring the irritation over People magazine’s recent selection of Gwyneth Paltrow for “Most Beautiful Woman”, there is no equivalent word for men, no equivalent compliment that all men yearn for. The best [...]

  7. […] Only white women are attractive – During the British colonial period Indian women were either presented as mysterious or as cheap sex without pay. When pitted against the European white women, there were purposefully made to feel sexually unattractive and less pure as this kept them in the lowly, inferior position need to keep colonial rule afloat – White Supremacy. This colonial legacy is still evident for example in the skin lightening creams that are widely available. Racism and sexism is still prevalent and these experiences are upsetting and deeply damaging for the development of young British Asian girls. It is made worse by the fact that it is rampant amongst ethnic minority groups. White skin or lighter skin is preferred over darker skin in some British Asian communities. I often heard ‘the lighter skin, the better’, or ‘she’s too dark’ in my secondary school! Whom by? Young British Asian boys when ‘rating’ girls according to their attractiveness. Migrant Asian parents have not been shy to show their preference to lighter skin colour, skin lightening creams that are highly damaging are extremely popular in countries like Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh and this type of colour discrimination has no doubt carried over into Britain. One whitening cream is literally called ‘fair and lovely’ reproduced and packaged by none other than Unilever! Just do a Google search for’ skin lighting creams’ and there are endless lists of products that will ‘brighten up your complexion’. […]

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