If you are unfamiliar with the beauty standards in Asia and some parts of the middle east and north Africa, here, let me tell you. This article will be informative and also very rant-like so I would recommend sipping on some tea as you read this.
Growing up in a South Asian household, I was criticized on my appearance so much and still am, I know very well that this isn't just my family, but a cultural understanding of what beauty is supposed to be like and how that is engraved in every woman's mind in Asia.
Here's what is considered beautiful - super fair skin, big eyes, very thin body, hairless, and a small and pointed nose.
And yet every auntie in Asia expects girls to magically look like that and abide by such standards like we can be born with them or control them which is literally so stupid. I can't fathom how much this standard has ruined people's lives physically and mentally.
Let's break down the logistics of these standards real quick.
When it comes to fair skin, if you are "lucky" you are either born with it in your genes (or natural selection) or your skin matches where you are from and to help adapt to UV rays in Asia you have darker skin which makes sense.
When it comes to eye shape, it is still a mystery to scientists but if you physically cannot control what kind of eyes you are born with, whether you have monolid, wide-set eyes, or small eyes, it's simply something you cannot control.
You would think that being skinny is possible and it sure is, but in this case, I'm talking about looking almost malnourished. No matter how thin you are, you will constantly be criticized. I have literally witnessed my skinniest of cousins being told that they look "healthy," which translates to fat. THE WORD HEALTHY MEANS FAT. C'MON.
Hairlessness. Are you sh***ing me??
Us South Asians are literally known for our body hair, and you expect us to get waxed up at age 10 and not be traumatized? Making body hair sound so disgusting even though it is a normal and natural thing? Ridiculous. And then finally, having a small nose doesn't even make any sense because the shapes of noses are based on adapting to humidity levels and climates where you are from and if you don't have a bigger nose than people with European backgrounds, then you are just as "lucky" than those who were born hairless, fair-skinned, big-eyed, and high-metabolism-ed.
From personal experience, I have dealt with so much criticism and thankfully it has never impacted me as much mentally than it could have.
My parents are on the fair side, and I am fair/medium skin toned, but the catch with me was that unlike my cousins, I played sports growing up and yes, they were outside and yes, that meant that I got super tan. The calls that my mom would get from her mom about how she needed to put Fair & Lovely on me and lemon juice, and yogurt and all these things just to whiten my complexion was too much. It started literally the age of 10 and never stopped. I have grown out of the standard, but to this day my mom buys foundation shades that are at least 3 shades lighter than her actual skin color all because of this cultural standard.
I was blessed with big eyes, but I have seen my friends who are Chinese and Korean who have balled their eyes out wishing they didn't have monolids. It was heartbreaking to watch and that's when it really hit me how stupid these standards are. Even family friends who don't have big eyes have been doing makeup to make their eyes appear larger from a young age.
I was never skinny, I was either fit or chunky and it still goes back and forth for me when it comes to body type. And you best believe that whenever I would go back to the motherland, the aunties would look me up and down, pause, and tell me I look "healthy," which was every girl's nightmare. The pressure was always there, especially with my mom being a size 00 all her life while I fluctuated from 2-6.
When it comes to having body hair, my mom was very good about not making it a big deal when I was little, but the moment I went overseas, my aunts looked at me and took me to the salon to get my legs, arms, and stache waxed. I have gotten my entire body waxed so many times that it doesn't even hurt in the slightest, I have gotten used to it.
Oof, and having a small and pointed nose is like every brown girl's dream, at least mine anyways. This is the one thing that I have always been insecure about and absolutely hate about myself. Not only nose jobs, but surgeries to fulfill all of these Asian beauty standard "needs" are becoming very popular and common throughout Asia which is sad, but we need to make an end to this.
It's 2019, I can be as hairy as I want.