Here on my new blog I like to review products and try new beauty trends… but I honestly started this blog when I accepted my face…
As a Korean-American born here in the states I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere. In kindergarten I drew a picture of our class holding hands under a rainbow and my teacher told me “Oh that’s not you” referring to the dark haired stick figure I tried to color in with and tan crayon. “THIS is you”, as she handed me a yellow crayon. Though in the PC era this would have caused outrage, in my childhood being called names, having kids pull the sides of their eyelids down, and learning that your appearance made you different was very common. I grew up bilingual, never took an ESL (English as a second language) class, and have no accent. Yet, occasionally I am reminded that I am different, and to this day I get really confused when people ask me where I’m from….
“Where are you from?”
[Inner monologue] Do they mean my ethnicity? Or like hometown? Where my parents were born? … Wait, why would they want to know where my parents are from? Should I be offended? Nah too soon Rica, too soon… you just met these people….
[Me] Oh I grew up in the DMV area.
[Inner monologue] ANNND they’re looking at me like they want more to that answer. Damnit. Is this a teachable moment for culture? There’s a lot of people here so that might be embarrassing for this guy… Anyways you have to keep it professional, you have to keep a nice business relationship with these people…. but if I let it go they might think that it’s acceptable to be overly nosey based on appearance? Maybe they’re just naturally a nosey person. Oh no… the pause is too long.
[Me] I NEED TO GO TO THE BATHROOM EXCUSE ME! [Exit stage right]
The point is, my appearance has been something that has been fixated over my entire life. By myself and by others that I barely know. Imagine puberty, high school and all the awkwardness of ugly duckling syndrome, but being compared to 2 different standards, neither of which you fit into.
I spent my life growing up with boys… At least at that age there was less judgement when you were one of the boys. I wasn’t that into make up, and honestly, no one knew how to do make up on an Asian face with monolids anyways.
In high school someone introduced me to means of temporary eyelid enhancements and I became OBSESSED. For those of you unaware, these are ways in which tapes and glues are used to create an artificial fold in your eye to create a double eyelid. For make up junkies, this is the “crease” that you blend those nude matte shades into for natural depth. Monolids don’t have a crease, or at least not one that is visible when your eyes are maximally open.
Getting eyelid enhancements whether temporary or permanent (surgery) is a very common thing in Korea. I don’t want to get too much into Korean culture, and you can believe what you will… but Koreans like the look of an open and clear face. This includes whiter skin, accentuated eyes, and a smaller face. Imagine like cute harp seal.
You can argue with me if you wish, (because I get this a lot) but Koreans have no desire at all to take on the Caucasian aesthetic. Ideals for a white, open face are documented before our encounters with Caucasian counterparts in our artistry. And if you pay attention to our make up art forms, we go for a completely different look.
But I digress…
For years and years I utilized methods of eyelid and eye enhancement and thought it was normal. For some people it might be a completely healthy thing. Just like plastic surgery, if you do it for the right reasons, then you do you. But I was DEFINITELY not.
I hid it compulsively, waking up early on group trips to get “it” (the eyelid gluing, yes, you have to do it everyday) done before everyone woke up and then pretending to go back to sleep… I tried not to look down or blink too much in public so you couldn’t see that the lid doesn’t unfold… I was deeply ashamed of my eyes, of my face, and of my heritage that was written all over my appearance. People probably knew, but at that time if anyone found out, I don’t think I would have been able to show myself in public.
I had an unhealthy complex.
A couple of years ago after using the glue for many, many years I noticed that the skin around my eyes began to tear apart and it was… painful. Though eyelid glue is relatively safe, if you use it night and day for 5 years, the skin doesn’t get a chance to recover or breathe so the integrity of your skin fails… I attempted to keep using the glue on my raw open wounds on top of my eyes… I came to a realization that I needed to stop when my eyes were bleeding one morning and I STILL felt desperate to have my eyes modified.
For a couple weeks I went without it. My eyes were so red I think all my friends assumed an allergic reaction and moved on. I wish I had pictures to show people what not to do… but I don’t think there are pictures from this period in my life.
I became very anxious as my eyes healed (thankfully & miraculously without scarring)
What do I do now?
It took time.
It took a lot of self evaluation.
I had a lot of things to be proud of, and a lot of reasons to be happy in my life but I couldn’t see it.
I had to think to that yellow crayon incident in Kindergarten, and even to some scary moments in my life dealing with those who were racist and discriminatory.
But a very simple question opened the door to a journey towards self acceptance.
How the heck do I do eyeliner on my eyes now that they don’t have a double eyelid?
I pulled out some of my everyday eyeshadows and liner and found that this was quite the conundrum. (after my eyes had healed) I didn’t know how to contour my eyes or flatter their shape. I looked on the internet and I wasn’t in love with any of the monolid looks either (/ I really sucked at doing them?)… Does anyone know how to do this without looking like someone threw mud near my eyes? Through trial and error I slowly got the hang of it and started experimenting. I got used to my face, and I got used to seeing people on youtube with similar face and eye shapes. I came to see that there was nothing wrong with the way I looked.
It sounds completely and utterly stupid that it took a Straight A student 25 years to realize that appearances absolutely did not matter. But it did. They don’t matter and they don’t define you.
I did realize that there is power in seeing those that look like you in media… and I thought that the internet was an amazing platform to spread… my face!
One of my favorite youtubers: nigahiga, talks about how youtube and the internet really gave Asian Americans a chance for exposure and to be influencers for others who need a role model. (Let’s not get into too much controversy but cough… some people think that racism towards Asians is really funny… cough… And everyone else refuses to cast Asians as the lead in anything) Though I don’t think anyone NEEDS a make up role model, if my page helps even 1 person feel like they are beautiful and normal because there is someone else that looks like them somewhere… I’ll be happy.
Now, I love make up, but I don’t hide behind it.
Infact I go out barefaced more now than I ever did. (Also I put my bareface on all of my foundation reviews for everyone to see) Make up is a fun tool that boys and girls around the world should be able to play with regardless of how their face is shaped. In my everyday life I’ll continue to try to be a role model in the medical field (if I pass my exams), but here on the interwebs I hope that we can unite in that we all want to feel accepted, loved, and beautiful (inside and out!).
This is my confession, publicly exposing something I have been ashamed of for many many years. As of now I love my face and all it’s craters, my eyes and all it’s extra fat and am thankful for my mental and physical health.
Until next time…. And when I find something fun…
Check out these Love-your-monolid Looks!
Cutting a cat eye: using negative space
Girl on Fire: Look using new colourpop pressed shadows
Just Peachy: How to wear orange eyeshadows
Too Faced vs NEW Colourpop pressed eyeshadows (and lip gloss) Review and all day wear test
Classy VampyMatte & Brown Monochrome