Beauty Standard : Asian vs Western

Western and Asian women seem to have a beauty standard that intertwines with their makeup style. Straight, light, and natural eyebrows are prefered in Asia to project a more friendly and innocent image rather than aggressive, fierce or too sexy. Soft tones are also preferred to bold or harsh colors of the ‘on fleek Nike ticks’ of Westerners’ eyebrows. Asians tend to go for natural and clear makeup looks. They tend to wear minimal foundation and opt for BB cream (blemish balm) to give the skin a dewy and youthful complexion. In contrast, Western women, especially Red Carpet celebrities chose a thick foundation with heavy contouring to bring out the sharp cheekbones. Finally, the two cultures differ on the lips, in which Asian women prefer the ‘gradient lips’ effect, where the color is only strong in the center of the lips and fades outwards. On the contrary, Western women prefer lining their lips with a nude lip pencil and going over it with a matte nude lipstick for a full and sensual pout.

There has been much debate on the stereotype in Asia, where women are judged based on the “perfection list” of Asian beauty standard: Large bright eyes with double eyelids, tall bridge and thin nose, petite mouth, small V-shape face, tall and slim yet possessing round and feminine features. In particular, in a country like South Korea where the plastic surgery is most popular compared to other nations, an excessive number of women and even teenage girls get plastic surgeries to achieve their “dream” looks. They considered such decisions as completely normal and even deemed it as necessary to give them an appearance advantage when applying for work.

However, some may say that Westerners have a standard concept of beauty as well. Throughout the 90’s, every chick-lit novels and movies were plastered with the gold standard of all-American beauty: being naturally blond, with heart-shaped faces and luxuriantly, effortlessly tawny skin. Therefore, it can be argued that homogenous beauty standard goes both ways, and it was rather unfair to label Asian women as ‘strikingly identical’ when in Western culture, the promotion of “perfection” was the image of blonde and blue-eyed women.

To Asians, beauty is always associated with a fair milky skin, as it represents nobility.

There’s a big misconception that Asians’ pale/white beauty standard is because they want to achieve a “Caucasian” look, but this notion of ‘white’ beauty existed even before Asians knew the existence of Westerners. To Asians, beauty is always associated with a fair milky skin, as it represents nobility. Skin whitening has a long history in Asia, stemming back to ancient China and Japan, where the saying “one white covers up three ugliness” perpetuated through generations. A white complexion was seen as aristocratic and served as a show of wealth, especially in SouthEast Asia. This is because only those who were rich enough could afford to stay indoors away from the sun, while peasants were baked in the rice fields.
However, in the west, beauty is connected to having tanned skin as it connotes a healthy, “sun-kissed” complexion. But a fake tan is never healthy! The deeper the colour of the tan, the more extensive the skin damage. While the market for tanning lotions are prominent in the West, people in the East search for the best whitening product. This is a perfect example of the idiom: “The grass is always greener on the other side.”

After all, appearances shouldn’t be prescribed by stereotypes or dictated by tradition. You don’t have to be an Asian woman to walk around under a big hat and sunbrella in order to preserve your sickly white vampire hue. Nor do you have to be one of those sunbathers slathering yourself with tanning oil. It maybe great to stay on top of trends, but at the same time, it is not a crime to play around with different looks, regardless of your ethnicity. Open yourself up to changes and you may find positive surprises.


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