As much as people insist Asian beauty ideals aren’t based on desiring white features, it’s just not true in 2016.
The above picture is of Taeyeon, a very famous, popular k-pop star. She’s wearing blue colored contacts and has bleached blonde hair. These features obviously aren’t natural for her. And lots of regular, non-celebrity Asian women also chemically alter their hair and wear medically unnecessary contacts to look like her.
Because lots of Asians are obsessed with looking white.
Many people insist, “That’s not true! Asians have valued large eyes and pale skin for millenia–it has nothing to do with white people!” Maybe they would’ve been right 30, 40 years ago. But today, globalization and constant exposure to white beauty standards in the media, especially in Hollywood movies, have affected what people all over the world believe is beautiful. Now many women also want light hair, blue or green eyes, a narrow jawline, a high, defined nose bridge–features that rarely occur naturally in Asians.
“They just want to look different!” some protest. I don’t see many girls running around getting lavender hair and orange contacts, though, which would make you look way, way more *unique*. And while the old standards like pale skin could be considered desirable because it’s a proxy for wealth (e.g. not having to labor outside), there’s nothing inherently attractive about light hair or a tall nose, other than making you look more like a white person.
We have to admit that these new standards come from wanting to look white. No one is immune to internalizing these Hollywood beauty standards, that blonde is beautiful, blue eyes are beautiful, white is beautiful. You can’t see something over and over without it affecting your perspective. Seeing something repeatedly makes you want it–that’s how advertising works. We have to stop denying the fact that Asians and many others in the world have internalized these standards, and that this hurts us and all POC.
It’s funny because in Asia, people straight up admit they want to look white. A Korean makeup tutorial girl I like kept saying, while contouring her nose, “this makes me look more like a foreigner” (read: white). Another girl was being interviewed by a white girl and told her, “I want to look just like you.” K-pop videos of male artists cast white women as the love interests, while Asian women are relegated to being backup dancers. Asians state their preference for white features overtly. It’s time to realize this and recognize it as a problem, so we can figure out how to stop this nonsense.
See also this great article: http://www.beautyredefined.net/beauty-whitewashed-how-white-ideals-exclude-women-of-color/