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A Rise in Ethnic Beauty

Posted: September 14, 2010

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The desire for individuality leads people to embrace the image of ethnic women over typical "cookie-cutter American beauties," said Chu. "It's this open acceptance to diversity that we are seeing in the younger generation and the longing for individuality that is really transforming our standard of beauty."

Dark, thick eyebrows, most notably associated with Indian women, have become more desirable and natural brown hair tones, as opposed to bleached and platinum blonde hair colors, are among the features highlighted in today's culture, she said. And the practice of sewing in wefts of hair extensions, a technique popularly used for African-American hair, is being adopted by Caucasian females, according to Roy Teeluck of Roy Teeluck salon in New York.

Linda Wells, editor-in-chief of Allure magazine, said ethnic beauty is being embraced because of changing demographics of America. Between the years of 2000 and 2008, the mixed-race U.S. population grew by nearly 32% to nearly 5 million, said Wells, citing U.S. census bureau estimates. "Our concept of beauty will always reflect culture," Wells said. "Beauty standards don't exist in a vacuum. Our standard of beauty today is definitely representative of America's melting pot." The belief that certain ethnicities retain a youthful appearance longer may be attracting women to these trends as well, Wells said.

Sasha Muradali, author of littlepinkbookpr.com, a blog that follows pop culture and beauty trends, believes the need to achieve certain standards of beauty has little to do with race and ethnicity and more to do with the obsession of perfection. For Muradali, a 25-year-old working woman of South Asian descent, the current standard of beauty is still a bit blurry. "We have definitely come a long way because people are embracing Middle Eastern, African-American and Latin looks and no one wants to just look like the quintessential American girl," Muradali said. "But I think we are subtly staying in the past."

"I mean, we are all raging about the curves of Beyonce and Kim Kardashian, but at the same time the media is telling girls that they need to be a size zero. That's what makes the beauty standards a bit skewed and contradicting."