Opinion: Broadcast and the standard of beauty

Kara Taylor

Kara Taylor

Kara Taylor is a freshman journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].

Broadcast journalism is a very visual medium as television hosts and anchors are under great pressure to be visibly appealing. As sad as it may be, obtaining a career in broadcast television relies heavily on physical attractiveness. America has always had a beauty standard, which most people can’t meet if they don’t look “American.” What do we mean by American? Well, nine times out of 10, minority ethnicities don’t fall under this category of beauty.

Television host Julie Chen, current co-host of “The Talk,” boldly came forward and announced her plastic surgery. Early in her professional life, she was advised by managers and agents to undergo plastic surgery to widen her eyes in an effort to advance her career.

“After I did this, the ball did begin to roll for me,” Chen said. “Afterwards, I struggled with ‘Did I give into the man’ when I did this?”

Well, some people believe she did sell out. CNN received emails with all types of comments, some positive and some negative.

“This is the burden under which all minorities must live: If you don’t look European, you are not considered by the general public,” commenter Cariqunyl said.

You would think we lived in a time when diversity would be embraced in television network stations, but we don’t. Minority anchors and hosts are usually sculpted for an American appeal. Whether last names are changed because they sound foreign, lighter make-up is added or plastic surgery is recommended, minorities feel they can’t be themselves without these changes and still prosper in this career.

I commend Chen for speaking out on her procedure. I’m sure it took an abundance of courage to reveal something so personal. This story is just one of many. Minorities of different ethnicities probably have a story to share regarding obtaining a job in broadcast media. To achieve lighter-toned skin, African American female anchors and hosts are often asked to wear layers of lighter foundation. There are cases of Latino anchors that had to change their last name because it was “too foreign” for their network market.

Fortunately, Chen did advance in her career, but there is a very unfortunate side to this as well. There are children who believed in a broadcast career because they saw someone who looked like them achieve it. For some children, that means a great deal. I can see how people would call her a sellout. She did alter her natural appearance, but at the same time it doesn’t mean she isn’t proud of her ethnicity. She made a conscientious decision to advance her career, and it is a personal choice.

Perhaps our generation can break these barriers and present a new standard of beauty. Diversity should be included in our standard of beauty because one type of person is not more beautiful than another. Let’s accept and incorporate diversity — it is definitely not going anywhere.