Column: United States impairs my Argentinian beauty standards

an illustration of a girl looking at herself in the mirror and also looking at a magazine

Unlike the beauty standards of Argentina, the standards of the United States set girls up for failure. Beauty companies might advocate positive self-image and natural beauty, but they also promote an unnatural beauty ideal that seem to only further distort the perceptions women have toward themselves.  

I was born into a lower-class family of Slavik descent in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At the age of three, I began to split my time between the U.S. and Argentina, returning home as often as possible.

It was in Argentina where I formed my perceptions of the world and the beauty within its confines. Yet, most of my experiences confronting the harsh realities of this world and its ideals occurred in Los Angeles.

I was eight years old when I first stood in front of a full-body mirror and stared at my thick legs, wishing they were thinner, and I was twelve years old when I was weight shamed by popular middle-school girls.

In Argentina, beauty standards are generally tailored to embrace a woman’s natural shape and complexion. It’s uncommon to see women walk the streets of Buenos Aires with a full-face of makeup, and it’s even more uncommon to see them contouring their faces like Kylie Jenner. Plastic surgery is shunned and considered a vain effort to fool society and distort one’s self.

In Argentina, beauty finds its source in reality. Girls are raised to embrace who they are, how they look, where they come from and how they think.

Every time I go back to Argentina, a switch goes off and suddenly tinted-moisturizer and mascara are enough to make me feel unjustifiably self-confident. However in California, I can hardly leave the house without feeling the need to perfect my complexion and rid myself of my insecurities with makeup, and still, it doesn’t guarantee that I’ll feel comfortable in my own skin.

On social media, I see girls with flawless skin and I catch myself dreaming about the day I’ll have flawless skin as well, forgetting that those images have most likely gone through a screening process of editing and filters before being posted.

It’s a vicious beauty cycle, in which women will want what they don’t have, and pretend to have it, provoking other women to want it too. For example, some girls with light skin want tans while some women in India bleach their skin for a lighter complexion.

Even though positive self-image and natural beauty seem to be promoted virally in the U.S., natural beauty is still manipulated by those who want to flaunt their best angle or invest in lip fillers and microblading.

Lisa Eldridge, Lancôme’s global creative director and renowned celebrity makeup artist, has often promoted the “no-makeup” cosmetic look. While the concept of this style has helped shift the beauty paradigm, and enhances one’s natural features, it fails to resolve the self-deprecating tendencies that dominate the media.

Using makeup to mask natural features is wrong, solely because no one would feel the need to cover or distort natural features if they felt that they were accepted within society.

Weight shaming, colorism, acne and cellulite-related worries underline the harsh reality of the beauty industry that wreaks havoc on the self-esteem of men and women around the world. The reality is that beauty is standardized by unrealistic expectations and false accounts of perfection.

Bodies and faces cannot be subject to one standardized idea or image. People must not fall for these masochistic tendencies, in which many alter their behaviors and jeopardize their mental health, all in the name of striving for an unattainable ideal image.