The Westernization of Asian Beauty

What makes one person more beautiful than another? While the definition of beauty varies not only from culture to culture, but also from person to person it is not entirely correct that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. Eurocentric standards of beauty such as a creased eyelid, slim nose, and pale skin have been idealized through media and advertisements in the fashion and beauty industries for the pretty much the entirety of their existence. This continuous idealization and portrayal of a specific type of “beauty” in media has a very apparent impact on ideals in other countries.

Furthermore, as C.N. Le mentions in a post about Asian beauty standards, elevated status of Europeans politically, socially and economically throughout history has placed them at the top of the global hierarchy. This means western culture, the United States especially, has a huge influence on media and advertisement globally, therefore shaping an “ideal” that doesn’t equally represent people not of European descent.

So what impact does Western idealization have on cultures of people who do not fit those standards? The influence can be seen everywhere, in advertisements, beauty products, and is especially noticeable in the glorification of plastic surgery.

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One beauty product in particular that serves as a perfect example of glorifying western beauty is monolid tape. A monolid is an eyelid without a crease, and is a common feature of many people of Asian decent and this product literally is used to tape your eyelid to its self creating a crease — talk about uncomfortable. What is wrong with a monolid? Absolutely nothing! If advertisements and media represented more people with a monolid, this product probably wouldn’t even exist.

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Promotional head shots for Miss Korea 2013

The head shots for the Miss Korea 2013 Pageant feature a group of women looking eerily similar, which many claim is a result of “westernizing” plastic surgeries.

Plastic surgery is huge among Asian cultures, even encouraged. According to an article by CNN, the majority of facial procedures performed on Asians are considered “westernizing” procedures — and one in five women in South Korea are receiving these procedures. Even more unsettling is the fact that Miss Korea 2012 admitted to having plastic surgery, stating that, “I never said I was born beautiful.”

 

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SK-II Advertisement

Advertisement and celebrity endorsement even go as far in Asian cultures to use actors and models who have received plastic surgery to obtain more western features. The SK-II advertisement shown above features a celebrity who has admittedly had a rhinoplasty to achieve a more three-dimensional nose, as well as double eyelids. Serving as a constant reminder that according to media Asian features are not as “beautiful” as western ones.

What needs to happen is a change in the way we as both producers and consumers portray and support idealization of beauty in order to create a wider— more diverse definition so that men and women of all ethnicities can be embraced and celebrated – instead of paying money for products and procedures to fit a standard. As C.N. Le writes in his article, “beauty can wear more than one face when millions of beholders make it known.”

 

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