“Advertisements prefer blondes”

I often think of globalization in terms of material goods. I picture the all-too familiar iconic golden “M,” juxtaposed with not-so-familiar Chinese characters, or the Starbucks emblem posted on traditional Asian architecture. Upon arriving in Beijing though, I quickly realized that the spread of Western culture goes far beyond merchandise. What particularly shocked me was the adulation of Western beauty; light hair and blue eyes appear in most advertisements — even for products exclusive to China.

At least five times today, our group passed an advertisement for eyelash growth serum that depicted a pair of icy blue eyes. Western actresses — or Asian women airbrushed and made up to the point of looking like Western actresses — graced the covers of all magazines. Tall blonde women appear in every store window display. Ads are not at all representative of the women purchasing the advertised goods.

To be honest, it left me disturbed. Our media is often criticized for narrowing the scope of what we consider “beautiful.” But, what I’ve seen in Beijing has only reinforced the seriousness of this problem. We wonder why young girls are riddled with low self-esteem, yet we live in a world that fails to appreciate beauty in all forms. Television, film, and advertisements point to only one conclusion: tall and thin is the only way to be beautiful. In Beijing, the advertisements scream an even more specific message: tall, thin, and Western is the only way to be beautiful.

In my first few days in China, I’ve seen hundreds of girls with their hair dyed an unnatural shade of blonde, making it clear that the media has altered the definition of what Chinese women consider attractive.

Globalization is inevitable; imposing unrealistic Western standards does not have to be.

Haley Adams 



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