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.