I think it’s safe to say that no matter where or how you grew up, we’re always worried about our looks. From primping and prepping to looking fly in the latest fashion, we’re always want to look our best. Right now, in America, the Kardashian contour, tan skinned, and the pouty lip look is all the rage: unleashing our inner-diva is a must. Our uniqueness in our looks are embraced and emphasized. However, the beauty trend in Asia is quite different. There is a uniformed beauty ideal in Asia that commands being fresh-faced and looking naturally beautiful. It is a look that consists of double eyelid doe eyes, straight eyebrows, and bright colored, gradient lips. But the most important beauty staple in Asia is flawless, milky-white skin.
I know, I know, you’re all say: but skincare is important everywhere else too! But trust me when I say that Asians take skincare to the next level. While Americans generally have a skincare routine of cleanser, exfoliation, toner, and moisturizer, the Asian skin regimen is more rigorous. Introducing the ten-step skin regimen chronologically consisting of oil cleanser, foam cleanser, non-scrub exfoliator, toner, facial masque, essences, serum, emulsions, eye cream, and then sleep masque. While my American brain initially thought this skincare regimen was a tad excessive, I’ve adopted this ten-step skin regimen into my nightly routines and my skin has never felt, or look better! As my mother always say, “Nurture and Preserve!”
While this intense skincare regimen is an innocent pursuit of beauty, there is a less innocent beauty enhancement that has become normalized in Asian societies: cosmetic surgery. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the Midwest or that my parents are conservative thinkers, but it’s mindboggling to me to see how normalized cosmetic surgery is in Asian societies. Double eyelid surgery or rhinoplasty is considered to be a normal high school graduation gift. This type of mentality is not just limited to Asian societies, but it also influences Asian Americans as well. One of my high school friends went to South Korea after our high school graduation to get her eyelids, nose, and chin surgically enhanced. While I initially gave weight-loss the credit for her new looks, it wasn’t until a mutual friend spilled the beans that I started to notice the small, but drastic changes in her face. Another friend: her mother refused to pay for her college tuition, but was willing to pay for cosmetic surgeries. While I won’t lie that those who pursue surgical enhancements do end up looking prettier, I can’t help but wonder: whatever happened to beauty is only skin deep or is it needle deep now?
"ABC is Me" is a blog written from the perspective of an Asian American, a "Model Minority" juggling between two unique backgrounds (Asian and American). It documents a personal struggle of wanting to fit in with the American norm, but also keeping in touch with author's ethnic roots.