Wednesday, March 8, 2017

CINDY NYARKO: Join the Beauty is Diversity Campaign (with video)

By Cindy Nyarko

I am the founder of the #BeautyisDiversity campaign.

Currently a junior attending Truman High School, I started this campaign in 2016 as a project for Michigan’s 2016-2017 DECA State competition

With the help from the Taylor Truman DECA chapter, I have been able to raise awareness about my campaign’s message – a message to integrate more women of color in American media, thereby making the ideal of beauty more inclusive of women of color.

Currently, the American beauty standard has failed to be as inclusive of women of color as it could be. We live in a country where a little more than 35 percent of women are of color and the number is predicted to grow substantially by 2050.

Bearing this mind, I hope that America’s standard of beauty accurately represents the diversity of the people.

America has always advertised itself as a country that embraces and celebrates diversity. However, on multiple occasions, it has failed to keep those promises. Embodying that failed promise is our American media.

Media plays a large role in the lives of many young people today. Taking this idea into consideration, it is no surprise that it has great influence when molding our minds. Unfortunately, our media tends to favor those of a certain aesthetic, especially in regards to women. More often than naught, women with lighter skin, straighter hair, and paler eyes are considered the epitome of beauty.

This is one of the main reasons that I started the #BeautyisDiversity campaign. I hope to raise awareness of the unequal representation of women of color in modern American media. As an African woman of color, I want other young women of color to view the media and see women that look like they do. Although many women of lighter skin, straighter hair and paler eyes, are beautiful, that does not mean they are the only definition of beauty.

When I was younger, I grew up in a school where most of my classmates were white. At the time, I never really thought that I was that different until a Caucasian boy in my class asked me why my hair wasn't as soft as my friend's. The friend he was comparing me to happened to be a Caucasian girl.

It was then that I started to believe that I was different.

Unfortunately I equated my differences as inequalities and flaws. I hated my dark skin color and my curly hair. It wasn't until I saw actresses like Lupita Wyong'o (right), an actress of Kenyan descent, that I started understanding that the color of my skin or the straightness of my hair didn't determine the amount of beauty or worthiness I possessed.

Nyong’o looked like me. She was playing such a powerful and confident woman on the screen. When I saw Lupita, a woman who I could identify with, being as confident and beautiful as she was, I believed that I could also be just as beautiful and confident.

This is the kind of experience I want to share with others. One day, I hope our beauty is truly is found in our diversity. We must embrace and celebrate every skin color.

I intend to take my campaign to DECA's state competition and hopefully bring my campaign to nationals, which would allow it to gain national acclaim.

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