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An Open Letter to People Who Romanticize WOC In Edits

photo by @islandboiphotography on Instagram

Dear People Who Make Edits Using WOC Models,

Don’t think that by simply using WOC models and actresses in your edits, you are doing enough for them. Don’t mistake using girls who are thin, light-skinned, and Eurocentric in body/facial features for being diverse and sufficient representation for WOC , because they are only a small percentage of WOC.

Remember to use WOC who have body hair, and thick, unplucked eyebrows, WOC who have dark skin and wide, flat noses. Because if it’s hard for light-skinned women of color to get representation, you can only imagine what it has been like for these girls who have never been represented or had an onscreen hero who looks like them to idolize. It’s hard enough being a Woman of Color and hardly seeing your race getting represented, and when it is, it still not being a girl that looks like you, but a girl who fits European beauty standards while still being “ethnic enough” (and, yes, that is a real thing white people say when casting POC).

The WOC who don’t fit these romanticized and harmful beauty standards are rarely ever represented, and it affects their self-esteem and consciousness of their looks. So many Women of Color are permanently altering their appearances to fit these unrealistic beauty standards that are impressed upon them by Hollywood and by society. It’s awful, but it isn’t hard to find a plethora of skin-bleaching products for dark-skinned women or products to change one’s hair texture, all because these things allow us to look how society has told us we should look.

This is how real women live, and all because they have not seen themselves represented the way others have. And yet, when I login to Tumblr, all I see is tall, skinny, and fair-skinned WOC with flawlessly-plucked eyebrows and no facial or body hair, passing many standards for minority representation.

So, yes, it is not enough to use thin, hairless, fair, perfectly-groomed and Americanized models in your edits/photos and have that pass as “representation”, because guess what? It isn’t representation, not really. Women of Color aren’t confined to narrow boxes of appearance; we are dark, we are hairy, we are chubby, and we have big noses, small eyes, unibrows, and ashy skin.

We aren’t here to fit your aesthetic, or fill your quota for using minority women so you don’t get called out.

It is really fantastic that our generation is expanding and actually including POC in things now, but we still need to expand even more and use all types of WOC. All WOC are beautiful, and all WOC should get fair representation.

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