The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Curls and Curves: How I’ve learned to defy the American standard

Rodrigo Hernandez

The idea of beauty is sewn into the fabric of our existence. In our world, beauty is refined and intriguing. The complexities of its roots are ingrained in each individual and make us all unique.

The theory of beauty has gone through a vast variety of changes in recent years. For many cultures, beauty has a variety of styles, and it plays a monumental role in our lives.

Being Cuban, I grew up surrounded by women in my family with curvy bodies and big puffy curly hair, which is the ideal look for Caribbean women. I was never happy with the way I looked when I was younger, and I resented my uniquely Caribbean features such as my skin, lips and hair. I felt the weight of society on my back to change my appearance to please American standards.

As a young child, my resentment toward my looks came from media influences and celebrities I saw on television. Women like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera were women I wanted to be, because they were skinny and had straight hair.

As human beings, we learn to hate ourselves because of these influences. Media often portrays a narrow specific ideal of beauty, according to president of the CSUN Trends club Rudy Flores. “Fashion is a form of self-expression, but with social media and many other forms of media, it is reminding us of what we have to be,” Flores said.

While consuming media on different platforms, users may start to believe that these are the “normal” or ideal standards in order to feel beautiful. The more we are exposed to the standard, the more we want to achieve it and accept it.

Trends are constantly changing, but have an impactful role in what beauty is. Whatever is trending in the media is considered beautiful. This influences how people see beauty and often leads to comparison and competition.

Comparison and competition can lead to depression and anxiety for both men and women. “Change happens when new trends come in, according to PsychCentral. Anyone can be influenced by trends,” said Karin Kamil, a CSUN fashion student and secretary of Trends. “It just takes a certain person to know what trend they participate in.” 

Different countries are influenced by each other. Being one of the most influential places in the world when it comes to fashion and beauty, the United States has made an impact around the globe. The world becomes connected through media, and many beauty and fashion standards start to blend. This has encouraged an increase of diverse representation on social media platforms. In more recent years, it has challenged the stereotypical norms that at one point were looked down upon.

“Media nowadays has placed an emphasis on many different styles from different cultural backgrounds. These different styles open the doors for a fresh new perspective and foster a sense of global unity,” said Kamil.

Many beauty industries emphasize different standards and trends. They learn to understand what their female consumers demand.

“As women, we are targeted the most, because of societal pressures around us. Media shapes the way women think and we start to put unrealistic standards on ourselves,” Kamil said.

Celebrities and advertisements display an ideal picture of what women think they should look like. Social media influencers and popular celebrities like the Kardashians partner with big beauty companies to reach audiences to buy products. Products like Skims by Kim Kardashian advertise waist trainers and other body-hugging clothing to enhance figures.

Over time, I have learned to accept the imperfections that once made me insecure. Fashion is a form of self-expression and being comfortable with your own skin. 

Growing up, I silk pressed my hair everyday because I hated my thick curls. Other times, I would take cocoa shea butter, slick my hair back into a bun and brush my edges. As I scroll through social media today, I come face-to-face with ethnic women who look like me and wear their curls like a crown on their head.

I have learned to stop trying to fit into society’s concept of perfection and create my own. I have found true happiness and comfort in my own confidence. I stopped comparing myself to others. I was able to boost my confidence through fashion. I am human and I have my insecure days, but I always remember when it comes to beauty, the prettiest stars in the night sky shine brightest in the darkest times.

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