Recently President Obama and ballerina Misty Copeland spoke in a video conversation with TIME‘s Maya Rhodan, about issues they face including race and body image.
As a man, Obama admits he wasn’t always aware of the issues women deal with in regards to body image. However, he says that raising his daughters has brought the issue to light. “When you’re a dad of two daughters, you notice more,” he says. “And that pressure I think is historically always been harder on African American women than just about any other women.”
Copeland agreed with Obama, saying she didn’t want to have to use makeup for performances to make her skin look lighter or her nose thinner and that she hopes to be an example for young girls to see it’s okay to have an athletic strong body.
Obama does seem to think there are strides being made towards a more diverse definition of beauty though…
“I do think that culture’s changing for the younger generation a little bit more. You see Beyoncé or you see some of these pop stars, and what both white, Latino, black children are seeing as representative of beauty is much broader than it was when I was a kid. You just didn’t see that much representation. And that’s healthy and that’s encouraging. But it’s still a challenge.”
Beyoncé, is very influential when it comes to a broader representation of beauty. In her song Formation, which she performed during the half time show at this she celebrates aspects of African American ethnicity and culture.
Embracing different types of beauty, especially in media, is the beginning of a healthier perception of beauty for everyone — and hopefully as Obama said, changing the culture for the younger generation.