i've literally just finished watching both episodes of Channel 4's 'The White Beauty Myth' - to be honest i'm feeling a bit appalled at a few things:
- the idea of 'beauty' wasn't properly defined from the start of either episode apart from showcasing a sequence of caucasian men/women flipping their hair and flexing their semi-naked bodies to the sound of a deadpan narrator stating "the white body...is held up by many to be the ideal."
- the whole program is packed with racially essentializing trivia i.e. black people tend to have bigger noses / most oriental women have small breasts / studies show that south asian men are short & hairy etc etc - without considering the occurrence of these features in the 'white' population? not all european people are hairless, busty sylphs with small noses just like you get people from all those 'raced' populations that don't fit their respective bills in this context. there's more diversity within these so-called ethnic groups than there is between them!!! one plastic surgeon actually touches upon this argument but he's literally only given five seconds of airtime!
- the word 'de-racializing' is thrown about haphazardly, usually in the context of asking a plastic surgeon/plastic surgeon-ee "are you de-racializing him/her/yourself?" - which i find extremely problematic because again it centers whiteness as unmarked and unraced with everything non-white lumped into some monolithic 'raced' being. white is a race too. though ideally none should have to be seen in this way
- not enough attention is given to the thoughts of the white british public in my opinion - it seems like 2 x 50mins of 'look at the length these ethnic minorities are going through to look like us!'. it would have been interesting to see a white woman going into Harley St for a nose job/boob job/laser hair removal etc to see how she herself measures herself up to this white beauty standard? surely this happens too.
- i just think too many convenient lines were being drawn between going under the knife and actually aspiring for whiteness - the one (very cute!) guy who wanted to be taller (which meant surgically breaking his legs to lengthen them) didn't want to do it to be 'more white' but to 'have more respect' and for people to take him more seriously. YOU'RE FINE AS YOU ARE DON'T CHANGE!
- orientalism at it's finest.
those of you in the UK can catch both episodes on 4oD HERE