There are definite benefits to working in a school. I always enjoy talking with my students about the most recent events that happen in our favorite shows. The thing about working at a school also gives me insight to how my students think. One of those insights is how standards of beauty still affect our society.
Just recently I got into a heated, albeit friendly debate with my students concerning the support our favorite ships within CW’s The Flash. A couple of my students were in favor of the current pairing of Barry and Patty, whereas some other students (and myself) were in favor of childhood sweethearts Barry and Iris.
I could say that the conversation focused on the abilities, skills, and attributes of the two women (which is another post altogether), but needless to say when having a conversation with middle schoolers, the conversation spiraled downward pretty quickly into who looks better with who.
Naturally, I was hard pressed to go down with my ship to the bitter end and I was game to take the bait. So I eventually asked one of my students, “How can you not like Barry and Iris? Iris is gorgeous!” She replied, “You’re right, if only she looked like Patty.”
Upon hearing her say that, I was stunned. Now of course, Shantel VanSanten is a beautiful woman and opinion plays heavily into this conversation (I might possibly be reading into my student’s response too much too). The statement made me stop and think. Is my student simply choosing Patty because of the westernized standards of beauty that saturates media or because she likes her character and personality?
The students at my school are predominantly Filipino or Chinese and they are amazing and beautiful in their own right. Unfortunately, we still see a strong emphasis on the representation of Western features and standards of beauty. Because of such a saturation, it subtly implies that if one does not possess such features, you are inferior. For society to set the standard and say that if your skin is not the right shade or your features are too big or too small is wrong. It invalidates a person and treats them as less than a human being.
Fortunately, there is hope for the human race. I love how women are becoming more prominent in roles like Supergirl and Jessica Jones. Let’s go a step further to show that beauty comes in all shapes and forms and is not just subject to one kind of perspective.
I don’t want my students to feel ugly. I don’t want my students to feel regret for the heritage that is inherently who they are.
I want my students to feel beautiful. I want my students to be proud of their heritage. I want my students to love the way that they look and understand that they don’t have blue eyes and blond hair to be beautiful.
Aside from being a long time friend and support to Barry she is also his lightning rod-one of my favorite concepts ever for the Flash. I’m just gonna leave that here. WestAllen forever!