Author’s Note: I didn’t realize that I ended up posting what should have been a blog entry as a blog page. Shit, I was REALLY out of it more than I realized.
So I’ll have to make up for this snafu somehow. And Happy Easter!
So I came across the following today on Yahoo! :Why K-Beauty Is the Holy Grail of Skincare. I read through it and I found it to be interesting. But it’s also got me raising an eyebrow at the fact that a “porcelain, dewy look” that Koreans work on achieving, as much as possible on any given day, is now the rage. And what I understand from the article is that if American women were to buy these Korean beauty products, supposedly hitting the happy medium of high-quality and low price, they’ll achieve the highly-prized East Asian aesthetic of “porcelain, dewy look.”
Now, I was born in an Asian country and lived in it for 11 years. Not once did I ever see an East Asian beauty poster featuring a dark or tan-skinned woman. All of them were pale-skinned or white with no imperfections whatsoever – no acne scar, no Moon crater, no redness (unless it was a blush), to name a few. Once in a while I’d see a mole but that’s about it. And their skin looked hydrated. And shiny.
Because I didn’t understand what a “porcelain, dewy look was,” I consulted Google for a visual. The description above was jolted when I saw Google’s answer to my inquiry. There was a subgroup titled “Korean,” so I clicked on it.
And my suspicion was confirmed: almost all pictures in the results page were East Asian women with skin that looked like they were born in bleach.
With the exception of the toddler years, I’ve spent my whole life trying to mirror the general Asian beauty product model that I would always come across in any beauty section of a store or mall, even after moving here in NYC and being exposed to posters featuring women of other ethnicity. You see, East Asian women are seen as the apex of beauty if:
a. Their skin was bleach white.
b. Their face is blank (freckles are not seen as “pretty”).
Growing up, I was always told to avoid having a “shiny” face because it showed that my face is oily. Yes, oily. I was told growing up that a shiny skin meant your face was ridiculously oily and you needed to grab a blotting or rice paper and get rid of that shit. That and shiny skin didn’t look flattering in photos.
Now, I’m starting to learn that American women are pursuing the Asian-model-on-a-beauty-ad-poster standard by buying Korean products. I’m guessing it’s because they’re starting to believe that if they buy the same products that Korean women have access to, they’ll achieve the same flawless, East Asian stereotype look.
Having spent most of my life hating my own skin because I couldn’t even come close to the East Asian Poster Man / Woman, I find it surprising and difficult to understand why American women are suddenly shifting to joining the rat race for them. All I got out of my pursuit was that I’ll never be good or beautiful enough to be an advertisement poster-worthy for a beauty product in an East Asian store.
Heck, Chinatowns have posters featuring the porcelain, milky-white woman. The only time that a pigmented-skinned Asian was ever allowed to grace them was when they were talented performers. That’s it. Any other time is deemed to be socially unacceptable.
I just hope that in the pursuit of the Korean beauty, women don’t get lost in the vicious cycle of self-hate like I did.