The Asian “epitome of beauty” should have fair skin, a slim face, large eyes and a tall, narrow nose.
There is a strong tendency to have fair and pale, white skin amongst Asians because dark skin is viewed as imperfect and less attractive. Due to the fact that many areas in South Asia and Southeast Asia used to be colonized and ruled by Europeans, white supremacy became the root of the problem— it displayed itself in the Asian obsession with white skin generation after generation, influencing Asians to think that the color of their skin determines their status in the social hierarchy.
Today, many skin whitening products are still found, including bleach, which is harmful to human skin. A World Health Organization study has found that almost 40 percent of women polled in countries such as China, Malaysia, the Philippines and South Korea claimed that they use whitening products frequently. However, in some third world countries, people don’t have a clear judgement nor are they able to afford other products. In the Indian subcontinent, over 80 percent of the fairness cream market was occupied by the brand “Fair & Lovely”. However, due to the recent BlackLivesMatter movement, the brand faced backlash that the name promoted negative stereotypes against darker skin tones and decided to change its name to “Glow & Lovely”. Many other famous brands such as Dove and Jonhson & Johnson have decided to do the same. Skin color is often seen as a measure of social class and status in places such as India and some Southeast Asian countries. Lighter skin is not only a symbol of beauty but also one of perceived power and wealth in these cultures, where prejudice against those with darker skin remains.
With everyone seeking a V-shaped jawline, small forehead, and a high nose bridge, many Asian women look almost identical. Going beyond just using hair products, clothes, and makeup, many women have taken to completely changing their face to look like a doll through the use of filters and surgery. It is a look that is highly desired by the South Koreans and the Chinese. Some aren’t just hit by the Hallyu wave but also influenced by Chinese mainland celebrities , such as Fan Bingbing. In order to achieve this look, a very specific set of features is required: pale skin, big eyes with double eyelids, a tiny nose with a high nose bridge, rosebud lips, and a small face with a subtly pointed chin. According to the CNA lifestyle “not many of these looks can be achieved with only makeup, which explains the increased need in cosmetic surgery.” This has normalized plastic surgery in Asia and especially in South Korea. A study done by Bank of America Merrill Lynch stated, “South Korea is the plastic surgery capital of the world with the highest per capita rate of cosmetic surgery.” Gallup Korea also found that between the ages of 19-29, South Korean women have had cosmetic surgery done to their face.
Slim Body Figure
The ideal body type in Asia involves tiny waists, slim limbs, curves in the right places, and long legs. The slim body type is extremely popular among South Korean and Chinese celebrities, with agencies forcing trainees to follow extreme diet plans that include starving or excessive exercising to lose weight. However, most of them must confront health issues such as fatigue, depression, anxiety, and countless more due to the pressure they face for their weight, body shape, and the ideal beauty standards. Diet tablets and similar weight loss products are popular and commonly consumed by most Asians, despite being harmful to the human body. Japan is currently the country with the highest rates of eating disorders, followed by Singapore and South Korea.
Body Hair and Hair Texture
South Asian women are under constant pressure for the removal of body hair to feel and look beautiful. They would undergo painful and time-consuming routines of waxing, tweezing and threading every last strand of body hair. The natural hair texture of South Asian women is also rarely given a positive response from society, causing most of them to straighten their curls despite also receiving backlash for the immediate assumption of them concealing their hair texture out of shame.
These unrealistic beauty standards have been in Asia for years and women have confined their lives to chase after them. However, no one should be pressured by society to change how they are born to look, and the beauty standard itself should not matter because no one should be judged from their appearance. All bodies and faces are beautiful in their own unique way and there is no universal beauty standard.