“Ok I’m black and I’m from France and I know what I want and what I don’t.”
Understanding that the beauty standards in America and France differ greatly needs to be acknowledged by travelers world-wide. Knowing this will help tourists get a grasp of how that country’s society and culture affects the lives of people living there. In France, immigrants from all different ethnicities mix in one place and people are inspired to explore different beauty standards to find one they personally identify with. In America, finding equal representations of people of all skin tones has been a journey that is certainly not over, and the mixing of cultures can get messy in America’s “melting pot.”
Chime Edwards is a United States based content creator and YouTube influencer with over 360,000 subscribers on her channel that focuses around beauty and lifestyle tips. Edwards said that beauty in the United States has been a difficult journey for blacks and explains that African American beauty standards in the United States have been passed down to not prefer people with darker skin and kinkier hair from the times of slavery and Jim Crow laws. She questions why the progressive, more embracing beauty standards in the media today still don’t adequately address black women and people of color.
“Why is dark skin still seen as being not good in the media’s standards for beauty, while being predominantly white is reflective of that standard? There’s no reason why a celebrity like Taylor Swift should be represented as my idol for beauty.”
Edwards said positive change is being made slowly but surely in the United States with sharing and embracing other races ideas of beauty. However, the sharing of cultures also exposes how white washed American society really is toward beauty standards. Edwards said she has no issue with white people wearing black trends, but just wants respect and recognition for the origins of the trends.
“We all give and take with each other’s experiences and we all take from each other’s cultures, and that’s beautiful to be able to share. But don’t call cornrows “box braids” and make sure to know the history behind the trend. It’s important to not give a white women credit for something we’ve been doing for centuries.”
In France, Julie who is also known as Djulicious, is advocating for more representation of black influencers on her Instagram and YouTube as well as with her own beauty line called, “Djulicious Cosmetics.” After immigrating from the French West Indies to France, she said the black beauty standards in France are a mix of a lot of different cultures. For Djulicious, finding how she wanted to represent herself by embracing beauty standards from different countries was an inspiring process.
“The French black beauty standards are a mix of a lot of things. Every black person in France comes from another place and there is a lot to be inspired by in France because of this. We are inspired by the fact to live like a Parisian and we are also inspired to make our own stances after coming to this new place.”
After immigrating to France and becoming more comfortable with her own beauty, Djulicious explained that a lot of the French beauty trends gained inspiration from American beauty trends. Djulicious said this constant mix of sharing ideas about beauty from different people’s nationalities and origins has made her and other women in France more confident.
“Big brands from America inspire the French here but we try to make things move and we try to do things like the natural hair and natural beauty trends. Embracing natural beauty has really helped women accept who they are here in France and now we can say, ‘ok I’m black and I’m from France and I know what I want and what I don’t.’”
Djulicious and Edwards both proposed that a possible way to change the strict beauty standards in both countries ultimately comes down to a mental transformation in the media, television and advertisements. They both said it should start with a conversation in order for people to learn and understand our unique differences. Edwards continued the conversation and said it’s all about unlearning those previous standards that were set for the African American community and bringing a lot of the attention to people who are older and addressing where and how they learned it.
“There is diversity everywhere; beauty should be represented equally in every way for everyone and in every space. If we know we’re essentially all the same and market with this in mind, it would no longer be this way.”
When it comes to wanting to partake in other countries’ beauty trends without fully understanding the history, societal structures and present-day struggles, it presents a problem for travelers that want to immerse themselves and get the total experience. Making sure to look below the surface level portrayal of a country and pay closer attention to what is underneath is extremely valuable to keep in mind. It’s important to know the place you’re traveling to inside and out; this is how you can fully say you’ve lived like a local.