By Devon Delfino, Staff Writer

What is the beauty standard?/PHOTO VIA DeviantArt user TrueMalyugin

In a Washington Post interview with Nina Davuluri, the newly crowned Miss America said: “[In India,] the more fair-skinned you are, the more beautiful you are. And they spend tons of money on skin-lightening creams, bleaches, products, and here it’s vice versa; we spend so much on tanning products.”

With an ideal that varies so wildly from country to country, it’s worth asking, what is real beauty?

If you look at women’s magazines in the U.S., you see tall, thin, often-tan women. In India, as Davuluri attests, the lighter your skin, the better. Other Asian countries might tend towards pale skin, dark hair, and a long, lean body type. In Mauritania, an African country, the curvier women are, the more beautiful they are. The same is true, to a lesser extent, in Brazil, where larger hips in particular are prized. In France, the ‘natural’ look is in vogue. With all of these drastic differences in opinion, there seems to be no objective definition of beauty.

However, it seems that the overall US standard of beauty is gaining momentum internationally. In fact, some Korean women have even had eyelid surgery to gain the appearance of a more Caucasian face.

Despite these cultural differences in ideas of beauty, it would appear that the only truism is that beauty is money. The cosmetic industry in the US alone brings in $54.89 billion annually and that’s not even including plastic surgery, fragrances, skincare or hair care products.

And then there are the Youtube beauty “gurus” who give tips on makeup application and what products give the best results for combating wrinkles, dark spots, acne, dry skin, redness, and enlarged pores. I’ve bought a ton of products based on those promises. Some have even worked, but when I think about how much money I’ve spent on my face, it’s kind of insane (especially for someone living on a college student’s budget).

I’m not saying that we should all just focus on our inner beauty and ignore the societally constructed versions of beauty that surround us. In fact, I’m the first person to profess my love of (and obsession with) cosmetics and skincare products. But I do believe that everyone should take the whole industry with a grain of salt and focus more on what makes you feel beautiful. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.