- More Than Yellow
Beauty: An Asian American struggle
Reposted from More Than Yellow
As a child, I remember looking in the mirror, staring at my body, and thinking to myself, “Why couldn’t my legs be longer? Why are my hips so wide? Why is my nose so wide? Why couldn’t I have been born with double eyelids or perfect skin?” I was so used to the beauty standards that my culture has written and deemed as perfect.
I have always struggled with my image and weight as a woman, but also as an Asian American. I was trying to balance this idea of beauty by having a slender body, fair porcelain skin, sleek jet black hair, and dainty features which were considered ideal to my family and Asian standards. But I also wanted to fit in and be accepted by my Caucasian friends and classmates, so I would tan my skin (despite my family’s resistance), add blonde streaks and tease my hair, and try to present myself as close as possible to the “popular” girls at my predominantly white schools.
Colorism has always run deep within the Asian society. Darker, tanned skin is associated with the lower working class, while fairer, porcelain skin is seen as ideal, and belonging to a higher class and wealth bracket. Unfortunately many people belonging to naturally fair skin groups (Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, etc.) would look down upon those of naturally darker skin (Vietnamese, Philippinx, Cambodians, etc.) though skin color does not and should not determine one’s status or life experiences. This false narrative of beauty we’ve been led on to believe has lured us to buy skin whitening creams with a perfectly fair Chinese or Korean model on the box, and continually question our own beauty.
As an American, I was also drawn to what was considered perfect through their lens. I was always jealous of the girls with blonde flowing locks and bright blue eyes, while I was left with my dark hair and small features. Growing up in the Midwest, I did not have many faces I could relate to and there wasn’t a lot of representation in Hollywood at this time. I couldn’t appreciate my Chinese heritage, and tried to whitewash myself as much as I could, so that I could be fully accepted by my peers. I was so distracted by the perception of others that I never took the time to admire how truly beautiful I was.
After years of struggling with my idea of beauty, I am coming to terms that no matter what society, my family, or our culture says, I am beautiful and so are you. Beauty comes in all forms; all shapes, sizes, colors, and perfect imperfections. Stop obsessing over these beauty standards and comparing yourself to others. It’s easier said than done, but it is possible to completely fall in love with yourself and be comfortable in your own skin. Start by thanking your body instead of criticizing it. Write down the features or parts you love, and learn to embrace the ones that you do not. Speak to yourself like you would to a friend that was feeling insecure about their flaws. You are beautiful as you are, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.