Asian Beauty Standards: Conforming and Homogeneous
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Beauty Fashion

How My Visit To China Made Me Realize How Homogeneous Asian Beauty Has Become

Every single person looked pretty enough to be a celebrity or at least one of those internet "stars." I had never felt so ugly.

How My Visit To China Made Me Realize How Homogeneous Asian Beauty Has Become

A few weeks ago, I rode the Shanghai metro for the very first time.

It had only been about two years since I had last been in Shanghai, but a lot had changed in that short period of time. Shanghai got a few new buildings. I got a few new hobbies. In our own ways, we were both growing.

Probably the biggest change that took place was my sudden, immense obsession with makeup. I found myself hungrily stalking my subscriptions box on Youtube, waiting for that James Charles or Nikkitutorials video to drop and sleeplessly hunting for online makeup store coupons to ensure I was getting the best deal out of my money. I don't know what it was that drew me to my newfound obsession over my appearance, but I didn't really care about whatever artistic or shallow reason was driving me to spend hours practicing eyeshadow looks in front of my mirror. I just knew that I liked doing it.

Unfortunately for me and my lack of western facial features, I soon realized that those flawless smoky eyes and cut-creases that Nikki was known for didn't quite work as well I hoped it would on my flat, creaseless Asian eyelids. In other words, what was supposed to make me look like a beautiful, smoky goddess made me look like a kid with two black eyes. It was around the time that I got into K-pop nd C-pop that I started looking more towards gurus of my own ethnicity for inspiration.

I started watching more Asian beauty influencers like PonySydrome and SichenMakeup whose tutorials I found to be more applicable for my own skin facial features, and after all those hours spent on lurking the comments sections of their videos, I found a community of people who loved Asian-styled makeup and beauty trends who praised it for its naturalness and simplicity just like I did.

Please be aware of the tense of the word "did."

When I first boarded the Shanghai metro, the one thing I noticed right off the bat was how perfectly polished everyone was. You could tell how much they all cared about their appearances with their trendy fashion senses and styled hair and pretty coral lips. Every single person looked pretty enough to be a celebrity or at least one of those internet "stars."

But then the more I stuck around to see it… the more my opinion began to change.

I remember my first day riding the metro on my own; it was on my second day of work. There was a girl with long hair standing right in front of the door of the subway train, staring down at her phone, just like every other person there. She had long black hair and was rocking a cool black t-shirt and shorts, but at the same time, she was wearing glittery high heels and had a sparkly pink Chanel cross-body bag. When she turned her face, I could see lash extensions decorating her slightly swollen double-eyelids and a plastic surgery incision scar on her nose.

The subway came to a stop. She got off with a horde of other passengers.

I wondered what it was that had driven her to permanently alter her features.

And then came Disney World.

In Orlando, Disney World is the place families go to experience the magic of childhood and adventure, where couples go to fall deeper in love, where friends go to push past their limits together as one…

In Shanghai, Disney world is where 20-year-old girls put on full faces of makeup and make their boyfriends take their pictures.

No, like — literally, nearly every single girl there had on a full face of makeup.

I was awestruck.

A lot of them wore heels and dresses and Minnie mouse ears (pro-tip: do NOT buy the expensive ass ears from inside the park; I speak from experience), just buy the cheap, knock-off ones that vendors will try to sell you in the subway — they're slightly poorer in quality but do you really want to spend over 100 RMB on a pair of black circles?

They swarmed in attractions like the Alice in Wonderland Maze (it wasn't really a maze; it was basically some bushes and pretty heart-shaped aesthetics that people lined up to pose by) and the magic castle (that one I can understand though) and cute kiddie rides that made for cute WeChat posts.

What was amazing was that they all looked the same.

It was brown dyed hair. It was glittery red eyeshadow. It was bright pink lips. It was Snow White pale skin.

It wasn't all that "natural" or "simplistic" at all.

So many of them had on colored contacts. So many of them had lash extensions or falsies.

So many of them seemed to be trying so hard to be someone that they're not.

I saw eyebrows in straight-jackets, being forced into a shape that was unnatural for the face. I saw noses with brown lines on both sides, pushing them to appear taller. I saw young mothers trying to force their little girls into princess dresses for pictures. I saw beautiful, glowing honey skin behind all that white powder…

I'm trying so hard not to be too controversial with this article, but I think that this is an important message for a lot of people out there. I get wanting to look pretty. I get wanting to look like Fan Bingbing or Irene or Jieqiong because I've most definitely been there before. I get wishing that I had different features. I've wished that I was less tan before. I've wished that my face was thinner, that my eyes were bigger, that my nose was taller (I have been cursed with a garlic-shaped lump with two nostrils since birth).

I'm not against plastic surgery or makeup (especially not when I own so much of it) or Photoshop or anything, but I think that in our struggle to keep up with the trend of what's beautiful, we're losing parts of ourselves.

Being in Shanghai made me realize how conforming and demanding these Asian beauty trends are, and not just for the poor celebrities we idolize that are too often the victims of white-washing, forced cosmetic surgery or starvation, but even on average citizens.

Though I'm no longer a huge fan of red eyeshadow and colored contacts, those girls at Disney were all really very pretty; they just didn't seem like themselves.

I'm all about using makeup as a form of self-expression, but it's important to differentiate between "expressing" who you are and "concealing" it.

Embrace yourself.

You don't have to look like someone else to be beautiful.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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