The old saying goes “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” but we never take it literally of course. Beauty today has become so standardized with the increase of marketing by the fashion and makeup industries. Beauty has become what we think of as models on runways or in spreads of Vogue of skinny women in heels without a flaw (or even pores!). London, Paris, New York, L.A., Milan, Tokyo, and Seoul are spreading their trends to every corner of the world, while the rest gladly absorb and embrace them. However, this movement of standardized beauty across the globe is detrimental to the diversity of the concepts and perceptions of beauty in many cultures. While the rest of the world is busy trading their perceptions for what they deem is better, Mount Holyoke women still maintain and embrace the diverse concepts of beauty in many cultures.
For example, when I was travelling in Burma this past summer, my grandmother scolded me for getting darker in the sun. In the traditional Burmese mentality, light skin is considered to be more beautiful than dark skin. Dark skin for the Burmese symbolizes a day of hard work in the fields, usually doing hard labor while light skin represents a woman who does not have to work and can afford to be indoors most of the day. In addition, a beautiful Burmese woman wears a traditional longyi and yin-bone outfit that consists of a long wrap skirt and a matching fitted three-quarter sleeve top with buttons on the side. Her hair is always wrapped in a beautiful bun and when unraveled, always reaches her lower back. And of course, she always smiles.