Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Changing Demographics in the United States

Well, it's official: there are now more minority births compared to white births in the United States, or so says a recent Pew Research Center article. Their research predicts that by 2050, whites will be a minority.

The study shows that non-Hispanic whites have the oldest median age (42.3), in comparison with Hispanics (27.6), non-Hispanic blacks (32.9), and non-Hispanic Asians (35.9). It would've been nice to see the age means as well as medians, but this exemplifies how demographics are changing in the United States. The younger the population, the more women will be in child-bearing years, and the more children will be born.

This isn't really big news; these numbers have been predicted for some time. But this isn't really what I want to think about. What I want to think about is this: how long will it take before white is no longer the standard of beauty? As "minority" races become increasingly mainstream in our country, the media isn't catching on very quickly. Do we have non-white celebrities? Sure we do.

This video, created by Kiri Davis in 2006 (when she was still in high school), shows how harmful the white beauty standards can be for non-whites:

While focusing on black culture specifically, this video clearly shows that young children are socialized to see that white is desirable, even "good" (the white=good is another extremely problematic issue that I will address at a later time).

Lindsay Kite wrote an interesting piece for the Beauty Whitewashed blog that looks at the impossibly white beauty standards. She writes:

"In a country where a full one-third of the population is black, Native American, Asian, Pacific Islander, Hispanic or Latina, the serious underrepresentation of women of color in media is really disturbing. Further, when you only account for the women of color shown in positive roles or depictions – especially those depicted as beautiful or desirable – the number is almost negligible... Images of white women dominate all media – especially roles or depictions featuring “beautiful” or desirable women, not funny sidekicks, the chunky best friend, the hired help or other stereotypes. To think this doesn’t have a negative effect on females who rarely see images of their own races depicted in a positive manner is insane. To think it doesn’t have an effect on the way white people (and all people) view women of color is equally insane."

So what do we think - 10 years? 20 years? 50 years? It has to happen eventually, right?