noses, but the racial meaning and identity of facial features is removed from these advertisements in order to focus instead on universal themes such as “beauty” and “self-improvement.” Most patients of color do not report wanting to be, or even look, white, and it would be socially unacceptable to do so (ASAPS, 2000-2008). The racial anxieties of people of color have motivated cosmetic surgeons to sell their services by insisting that these procedures have nothing to do with race, racism, white supremacy, or internalized oppression. Cosmetic procedures are
156 The Journal of Pan African Studies , vol. 4, no. 4, June 2011 simply methods to access a “better you” or even a more authentic racial self. Many doctors suggest that nose jobs, eyelid surgeries, and other cosmetic procedures actually “enhance” or “preserve” ethnic identity instead of obfuscating it. The fact that the overwhelming majority of rhinoplasty procedures (nose jobs) all create similar Anglo noses is omitted from the discourse. Major cosmetics corporations have taken up a similar contradictory discourse of beauty and race. There is a new trend among cosmetics corporations to use language that critiques the domination of white beauty standards in order to sell new products to women of color. A powerful example of this trend is Proctor and Gamble’s media campaign titled, “My Black is Beautiful.” Proctor and Gamble (a billion dollar multinational company with a substantial cosmetics line) launched their latest marketing strategy and labeled it a “movement.” It is described as a movement with “grassroots” involvement. The so-called movement also has a “manifesto” available to the public and written in a Maya Angelou- esque style. What is most notable about this manufactured social movement is its willingness to borrow the anti-racist language of black liberation movements of the past in order to sell more cosmetics products to black women around the globe, including partner brand, “Relaxed and Natural Hair Products.” The contradictions of these discourses will likely continue as cosmetics corporations invent ever more ways to convince women of color that “their black is beautiful” while reminding them that “white is right.” Another important theme in the ethnic cosmetic surgery discourse draws on African American women’s economic success. Many doctors and publicists in the industry suggest that black women have newfound economic success and that they deserve to reward themselves with cosmetic surgery. The words “deserve” and “reward” are common in ads directed toward African American women and are designed to mediate the fears of wasting money, or views that cosmetic surgery is only for white women.
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