As a person who was raised in a Western country, with an Asian upbringing, I have experienced both sides of the cultures. They are a range of positive and negative experiences that we can all learn from. The one thing I constantly notice in our society, is the need to know if someone is Asian or not. I cannot count the amount of time I’ve had to say to some ‘Yes, I’m Asian”, and the amount of time I have not heard someone said ‘Yes, I am White’. This article is also inspired from reading Connie’s Article on the asian-american awakening: that moment when you realize you’re not white. Growing up in a western country, you realise the amount of times people will be racist towards you in your lifetime without noticing it, being ignorant or directly being racist. That is not to say all Western people are racist at all, it is merely to point out that because we Asians are in the minority in these countries, it’s unfortunately something that will happen. Which is fair to say, because I know that many foreigners who visit Asia will also have their different experiences of being (stereo typically speaking) tall, treated like a celebrity and often stared at in public.
I remember whenever I made some grammar mistakes, my teacher would say it’s okay, because English is my second language. It seemed unfair, because when the Kiwi’s in class made grammar mistakes, they weren’t judged through racial concerns. The irony is that I am far more fluent in English compared to Chinese. Another memory, is of a girl who often bullied me in my high school. In western cultures there is a beauty ideal, that being tanned is ‘beautiful’. This is largely generalised and is similar to Asia’s ideal of beauty of having white skin. However, I was brought up nevertheless to take extra care of my skin, as to minimize early wrinkles, protect from the sun and have healthy skin. However, the girl would always tell me why I am wearing sunscreen. Why I would put it on in the morning, break time and afternoon. I think my younger self was bursting to say to her, I don’t want to get skin cancer!
This is only my thoughts (please feel free to share your experiences) but in Asian cultures, there is a massive influence of White culture. Even in Asia, Western culture is at some level of influence. Plastic surgery is taken for a reason, regardless of what it is. We are more than a pretty face (men and women). I have to confess that I really believe that in Asia, there is far too much influence of the Western ideal of having big eyes, a structured nose and thin V chin. How I wish beauty would not be defined like this. I am not against people who decide to get plastic surgery, because it’s based on their decision. I just personally feel that if people only get it because of what they deem to be societies aesthetic of beauty then it is extremely shallow. One thing I think is a huge lie in society, is the amount of self worth we put on image. Sadly (similarly to Western culture) in Asia, many people can simply become famous, because they are considered ‘beautiful.’ It’s very shallow, because sometimes their talents may not be better than the person beside them, but they are receiving the halo effect of being a higher worth, because they ‘look good.’
In the movies, on the billboards, the advertisements in magazines and the holly wood culture embedded into the media. It’s not surprising that the idea of beauty in our modern age, stems from western influences. Having mono lids, smaller eyes, flatter nose, shorter lashes are just some of the things that many Asians feel aren’t beautiful (in very general terms of course). The amount of people who wear false eyelashes, eye enlarging contact lenses, coloured lenses, nose and eye lid surgery and so on is what I believe to be a bigger influence from western culture. If you are Asian (or not) and reading this. Let me tell you. You look perfect the way you are. Yes you do. I’m not going to argue, because the amount of times I’ve told a girl she’s beautiful, and she gives me the weird eye, it makes me realise how much people look down on themselves. Your self worth is much much much more than the skin on your body. Plus, the more Asian’s who strive for the ‘ideal’, the more everyone will just end up looking the same. Aren’t we all born different for diversity and individuality?
Racial Equality in Beauty, should really be Equality in every area. Whether that is race, gender, sexuality and so forth. There is a lot of dividing, distorting, defining and determining what is beautiful. People should be treated based on their character, rather than their looks. Intelligence, Creativity and Imagination should be influenced as beautiful. We should be using our abilities to our full potential and encourage others to do the same, rather than putting other people down. We need to accept that everyone is different. Remember, that your self worth is not based on your looks. You have so much to offer to the world than your appearance.