I’m not sure how many of you have perused photos from Tokyo Fashion Week recently, but one on particular summed it up pretty well for me. It looked something like this: Caucasian model. Asian audience.
This is the reality for so many young Asian girls across the globe. Being ‘beautiful’ has somehow become synonymous with being Western.
Everytime I go to Asia to visit family, I’m astounded at the lengths girls are going to to look Western –dying their hair blonde, putting inserts into their shoes to make themselves taller, blue contact lenses or lenses to make their eyes look bigger, they even have little stickers that they put on their eyelids to feign creases. And let’s not forget the skin brightening lotions they apply religiously in the hopes of one day having ‘white’ skin. Plastic surgery in Asia has also sky-rocketed in recent years, especially in South Korea, with a huge proportion of them going under the knife to look more ‘Western’.
While it’s easy to shrug it off as young people simply experimenting with their appearance, I believe it’s roots are a lot deeper and more sinister than that. I know girls afraid to leave their houses without her eyelid stickers, thinking their eyes are ‘ugly’ the way they are. I’ve also, on occasion, looked in the mirror in the past, wondering why my eyes couldn’t be more like my ‘Western’ friends’. Thankfully, I now quite like my semi-monolid – but that took a while.
And as if telling young people that they way they look isn’t pretty, or attractive, wasn’t damaging enough, the constant bombardment with these messages is fuelling an obsession with aesthetics that’s taking these young women further and further away from what really matters. As ‘desirable’ as all these features have come to be, none of them are what makes a person truly beautiful – the way someone lights up when they talk about something they love, the way they roll up their sleeves and bite their lip or poke out their tongue when they’re concentrating really hard, or indeed, the way someone leans on your shoulder and cries about something that’s breaking their heart – that’s real, that’s human, and that is beautiful. Being human, I believe, is the most beautiful thing a person can be.
I appreciate that this might be better aimed at 12-20yr old Asian girls, but I think there’s a message in in it for everyone. Whether you’re a guy or a girl, and whether you want to admit it or not, chances are you’ve compared yourself to someone else in the past 24hrs. Whether it is the guy at the gym with bigger arms than yours, or the girl in a magazine with a perfectly flat stomach, the truth is, we’re all comparing ourselves to what other people tell us we should be. And that, I think you’ll agree, is decidedly insane.
I wish I could say that I’m going to charge forth into the world of fashion casting and change all of this, making it more representative of Asian and African poplulations which are currently hugely under-represented, but I think I’ll stick with the healthcare path for the time being. So instead, I’ll leave you with this,
‘We get so worried about being pretty. Let’s be pretty kind, pretty funny, pretty smart, pretty strong.’
Peace and love, my friends ❤