Race-Bending Beauty Practices
When we heard about the skin-lightening app for the profile pictures of Indian Facebook users, it struck us as one of many examples of people adopting a look outside of their own ethnicity. Some feel pressure to conform to the dominant beauty standard; others just want to flout convention. Clearly, stars are prone to doing it.
Race-Bending Practice: The spray tan
Although pale skin was once considered ideal among people of European descent -- it showed that you had enough wealth to avoid a tan from laboring under the hot sun -- these days there's nothing like a deep tan to show that you have the wealth and leisure time to bake in the sun. For the less well-off, there's spray tanning. Jersey Shore's Snooki became its new face after signing an endorsement deal with SunLove spray tanner. Looking a little pale? Get Snooked.
Spray Tan Honorable Mention: The entire cast of MTV's Jersey Shore
Race-Bending Practice: Colored contact lenses
With the help of colored contacts, celebrities like Lil' Kim have abandoned their natural brown eye color for hues like blue, gray and green. Are black and brown stars who do it fueled by the desire to conform to a European beauty ideal, as explored in Toni Morrison's classic novel The Bluest Eye, or are they simply trying to make you look twice?
Colored Contact Lenses Honorable Mention: Amber Rose
Race-Bending Practice: The lacefront wig
Celebs such as Naomi Campbell hide their naturally curly strands under lacefront wigs that are typically made with Asian or European human hair. Lacefronts wigs have a small piece of lace cloth on the front that is taped or glued to the scalp to give the appearance of a natural hairline. What once was created for cancer patients has turned into a widespread trend. But this race-bending practice can have unhealthy consequences. Just take a look at Naomi.
Lacefront Wig Honorable Mention: Beyonce
Race-Bending Practice: Rumored eyelid surgery
In double-eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty), the skin surrounding the eye is reshaped to create an upper eyelid with an extra crease. Many East Asians are born without that extra crease, and the procedure is perceived by many as resulting in a more Western (and Hollywood-friendly) look. An old photo circulating around the Internet has fueled speculation that Chinese action star Jackie Chan had the procedure done.
Eyelid Surgery Honorable Mention: Taiwanese singer Elva Hsiao
Joan RiversGetty Images
Race-Bending Practice: The nose job, part 1
The quest for a small nose with a straight bridge dates back more than 100 years ago, when German-Jewish plastic surgeon Jacques Joseph developed and began performing rhinoplasty. It became popular among Jews wishing to assimilate into European (and, later, American) cultures by adhering to the dominant Northern European beauty standard. Comedian Joan Rivers admits to having gone under the knife.
Nose Job Honorable Mention: Jennifer Aniston (said it fixed a deviated septum ... yep)
La Toya Jackson
Race-Bending Practice: The nose job, part 2
The most well-known example of celebrity rhinoplasty was probably Michael Jackson's dwindling nose, but it's clear that his sister LaToya has indulged as well. Perhaps the Jacksons' penchant for nose jobs can be traced to Papa Joe's reported problem with the family nose. He is said to have teased Michael especially hard about the wide bridge of his (original) nose, a feature that many people of African descent wear proudly.
Nose Job Honorable Mention: Shakira
Crystal BowersoxGetty Images
Race-Bending Practice: Dreadlocks
The growing of dreadlocks is spiritual practice of Rastafarianism, which came out of Jamaica-born Marcus Garvey's "Back to Africa" movement. Reggae legend Bob Marley was a practitioner. These days, people of all races wear locs -- some out of Afrocentric pride, and others, like American Idol runner-up Bowersox, as a fashion statement.
Dreadlock Honorable Mention: Shakira's faux dreadlocks
Sammy SosaGetty Images
Race-Bending practice: Skin lightening
In countries with color caste systems favoring lighter complexions (especially the U.S. and India), brown people have gone to great lengths to go pale. Even Africans apply fade creams with bleaching agents such as hydroquinone in them. Now with the skin-lightening Facebook app, Sosa -- and anyone else with a color complex -- can lighten up digitally.
Skin Lightening Honorable Mention: Well...
Race-Bending Practice: Butt implants
Since the days of Sarah Baartman, Westerners have been fascinated with ample derrieres. Sadly, the South African woman was enslaved and exploited by Europeans who paid to gawk at her distinctly African posterior. Victorian-era women knew this secret for mimicking her beauty: Bustier + bustle = thin waists and a little junkin the trunk. More recently, Countess Vaughn, of Moesha and The Parkers fame, bragged about getting butt implants to balance out her frame.
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Race-Bending Practice: Lip injections
Full lips, once ridiculed and caricatured in blackface, are now all the rage among white actresses and models. A pouty pucker is considered a thing of beauty (to whit, Angelina Jolie), but is there too much of a good thing? Lip fillers such as collagen have transformed the looks of ladies like Lohan, who is hardly recognizable post-treatment.
Race-Bending Practice: Cornrows
Cornrows are a classic hairstyle for people of African descent, especially children. But ever since Bo Derek wore them in the movie "10," non-blacks have been getting in on the act. Was Axl Rose so pressed to get them in 2008 that he added extensions for a little bit of "hang time"? (Note to Axl: For any man out of college, er, high school, cornrows are waaaaayyy passe. Even Chris "Ludacris" Bridges cut his off in 2006.)
Lisa RinnaGetty Images
Race-Bending Practice: The Whole Package
Where do we start with Ms. Rinna? She's the poster woman for plastic surgery. From the "trout pout" lips to the reconstructed nose to the spray tan, it is clear to see that this lady has some serious image issues.
For more more race-bending celebrity transformations, see our "Color Clash" photo gallery.
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