This Teen Poet’s Video Slammed Racist Beauty Standards and Went Viral
Ladies First highlights women and girls who are making the world better for the rest of us.
Body positivity has become a popular idea lately. No matter where we look in the media, we’re being told a different way to be more forgiving of, and develop a more affirming attitude toward, our bodies. On the surface, this isn’t a bad thing, but for 18-year-old slam poet Aranya Johar, most conversations about body positivity tended to be missing one key aspect of beauty standards: race. And so, she decided to make a video about it. That video, which she shared to Unerase Poetry, has earned her a massive following.
In Johar’s three-minute video titled “A Brown Girl’s Guide to Beauty,” she touches upon the problematic stigma of dark skin tones and shadeism, and how prejudices about skin color are as deeply ingrained in us as ideas of the perfect body shape.
“It’s important we talk about these issues, as we’ve been taught to be silent about our entire life,” explained Johar in an email interview. “I think the concept of being ‘Ideal’ has been ingrained in us since a young age, either through our own interactions, media, and culture. It is time we broadened our definition of beautiful.”
During her own childhood, Johar said she felt herself disassociating from these topics and comparing herself to Bollywood actresses, hoping she would look more like them. “I know this was unhealthy, and surprisingly was encouraged by my peer group to base so much of our value off our resemblance to Western models,” Johar shared.
By filming “A Brown Girl’s Guide to Beauty,” Johar was hoping to start a conversation for both men and women who face difficulties day-in and day-out embracing their skin tones and bodies. “I just want people to adjust their definition of beauty to, in some way, include themselves,” she said. “I just want people to look upon themselves with pride and confidence, and my hope would be to have my piece help them do that.”
Her performance has definitely touched a chord with the audience. Johar has had many women reach out saying they finally feel at home in their skin and men thanking her for mentioning the hardships that they also face too, in the name of beauty. To date, her video has been watched over 600,000 times since it was published on July 7.
While this video is just the start of smashing Eurocentric beauty standards, Johar thinks we should create a platform and space for all kinds of body types and skin tones, explaining, “We need more magazines with plus-sized women, more magazines with brown girls in bindis, more cover pages with flabby but happy men, more coverage of black women with their natural hair. We need to create a platform for all kinds of beauty!” We are here for it!
What do you think of Aranya Johar’s “A Brown Girl’s Guide to Beauty”? Tell us @BritandCo!
Fall is right around the corner, and we're getting amped up for our next session of Selfmade, Brit + Co's 10-week interactive startup school. Designed to help you create a new business or grow your existing one, this course is personally led by Brit + Co founder Brit Morin and co-founder Anjelika Temple, and supported by more than a dozen of the top female entrepreneurs, creatives, and investors in the country. Students receive personalized coaching on everything from how to get out of your comfort zone to how to scale your business, and everything in between. And now, thanks to Office Depot, even more of you can join the course!
For the fall session, we're thrilled to team up with Office Depot to grant 200 FREE scholarship seats to the course. Scholarships are open to US residents, focusing on women of color, women from underserved and underrepresented communities, and women in need of support to help them trail-blaze. After all, we firmly believe that your support system is a huge part of how you achieve greatness, and we are here to cheer all of you on.
To nominate yourself or someone you know for a scholarship, head to our nomination form right here. The deadline for scholarship nominations is September 27th — it's time to take the leap!
Beyond the scholarship, Office Depot is all about helping you accomplish more. Whether it be the start phase, growth phase or keep businesses going phase, Office Depot offers a full suite of business solutions, including services and products, to help you work from anywhere, organize and save time and help build your brand.
So what are you waiting for? Take a chance on yourself and get yourself one step closer to truly being selfmade. Learn more about the Selfmade program, apply for a scholarship and prepare to be inspired :)