The Beauty Choices I Make

If you know me personally, you also probably know that I truly can’t be bothered doing my makeup half the time. I find it overwhelming, plus it took me SO long to find a routine that actually looks good on me. I know that so many girls can relate to this, so sharing this part almost feels cliche. But when I was first experimenting with makeup in high school, it’s true – there weren’t that many Asian girls in my glossy pages of Teen Vogue, or on my favourite TV shows in which I could emulate their beauty routine, and the ones that I happen to stumble upon looked completely different than me.

I grew up with a gorgeous mother that marked every box of the “ideal” Asian beauty checklist (fair, thin, a slim projected nose and wide eyes), and then there was: me, her darker, hairier, squishy-nosed daughter, my equally as dark, hairy, squishy nosed sister, and my baby brother. May I stress this – my mother never made me feel this way. She always embraced my skin tone and never made it feel like it was a bad thing to be a little darker than the average Chinese girl. Through my childhood and well into my adolescence, distant Chinese relatives (or even just random Chinese people in restaurants) would approach me, throw their head back, laugh and ask “why are you so dark?!” in a joking manner, but really implying that my darker, olive skin was not beautiful.  One time in middle school, someone told me “your nose looks like Rihanna’s” and that it’s weird I looked “blackinese”, with a tone that heavily suggested my darker skin tone and flatter nose was a bad thing.

“Wow, I have never seen such a dark Taiwanese girl!” Another Chinese woman said to me once, staring at me as if I were some odd science experiment.

The list of these rude (and occasionally racist) instances could go on and on, but I’ll spare you. However, I’ll say this – I know that my culture isn’t the only one to have a warped ideal when it comes to beauty. I’m writing this because I think it can be relatable to lots of girls that may have experienced something similar.

So going back to my teenage go-tos – Teen Vogue, Seventeen and every teen drama on the CW  – you could imagine my frustration that more often that not, the Asian girls (although beautiful) never looked remotely anything like me! I always wished that I could find someone with similar features to me, had their makeup + hair on fleek so that I could essentially, learn how to do my glam. After experimenting with purple liner (cause I was told it “really accentuates” brown eyes), contour palettes  (because it’ll help “slim” my nose) , false lashes (because they’ll “fix” my mono eyelids), and much more – to put it plainly, I’m fucking tired.

Then I had what felt like an epiphany. Scouring at the hairs on my upper lip, I immediately brought out my wax pot. Once warm, I took an applicator and began to proceed with my usual hair removal routine. Much better. I thought, admiring my now-very-bald- skin above my lips. Every time I got rid of it, I always felt a sense of relief. Like I could be me again. Then it hit me.

Was I doing this because I wanted to, or because I felt like I never had a choice? 

“Hey Rachel, how’s the moustache going?” A male classmate would constantly ask me in fifth grade. I had just moved to a new elementary school and felt shy, so I usually had no comeback for this repetitive question. “I moustache you a question Rachel!!” He would say, laughing. It had become so engrained in me since then to resent my facial hair, and for over 13 years now, I’ve become obsessive in ensuring that my upper lip feels like a hairless sphinx. Any hair on my top lip felt unsightly to me, to the point where I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror if I had any peach fuzz whatsoever.
Even though many could probably say “it’s just facial hair”, for me it became much more than that. This realization I made had changed everything. I don’t think I ever really decided that I was going to wax because I wanted to, but rather that I felt like I had to. It was then that I realized that a lot of the choices I was making in terms of beauty were not clear, conscious choices – but more because there was no other option. I think when it comes to self-confidence, having the agency to decide what YOU want to do with your beauty routine is yours to make. I honestly feel like I’m starting over, but I want to be able to make these choices for myself consciously because they make me feel good, confident and to put it shortly: because I want to do it. 
To be honest though, I don’t see myself growing out this little moustache. But I’m glad I’ve come to realize that is a choice I’m clearly making for myself, and it makes me happy. I’m finally feeling empowered to make these decisions for me, and not because of whatever pressure (inwards and outwards) I used to feel. So this means that I’m back to square one! It’s making me actually feel excited about make-up and beauty again. There are many beautiful, talented & amazing people from all over the world that I have found in the process, and I’m learning every day from them. There have been so many incredible movements that have led us to embracing diversity, and all the gorgeous people out there – but we also have a lot of work to still do! 
It took me my entire childhood to really embrace my skin, my nose, and all the features that make me, me. I’m all the better for it. Beauty is not just one, typical, straight-lined standard; it’s a word that encompasses so much more than we could ever fathom. 
Starting my beauty routine from scratch is something that I can’t wait to share with you all, and I hope you can join me in the process! I’ve never been more excited about make up, routines & hair, knowing I’m going to be making choices that I feel empowered making. 
Love Always,

Leave a Reply