Although I didn’t know it at the time, one of my first defining political experiences was in my 3rd grade art class. It was the last day of school, and my art teacher asked us to imagine ourselves at age 18 and draw a future self-portrait. It was the mid-1980s, so big hair and heavy eye make-up was all the rage. I immediately grabbed a box of pastels, carefully traced an outline of a face with all the basic features, and vigorously applied turquoise and purple “eye shadow” from the top of my eyelids to the bottom of my eyebrows. To match, I smeared purple “lipstick” to the lips of my portrait and I topped it all of with big bangs, and long, wavy locks of hair… blonde hair.
It wasn’t until many years (and a few women’s lit classes) later that I realized how much I had internalized Western beauty standards. The lack of non-white women role models in the media or on toy shelves sent the message that girls of color like me could only aspire to fit one image: white. Unfortunately, white beauty standards are still mainstream, as several recent articles, studies, and films continue to show. But for me at least, I can’t imagine ever having blonde hair.
Favorite Musical Artist/Group: Anything but country
Posted by Priscilla Huang, NAPAWF Policy and Programs Director