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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Asian eyes; European eyes

I read an article on Chinese-American beauty pageants in NYC the other day. The writer commented that in an attempt to look more white, the contestants would clip their eyelids (so that they would have double eyelids) and put on whitening creams.

I am not sure if these are attempts to look more white. I have large eyes with double eyelids. Several non-Chinese have told me that I did not look Chinese though no one in China would ever mistaken me for anything but Chinese. I look the standard Chinese. But it seems the "authentic" Asian look to some non-East Asians is the stereotypical super small and slanted eyed look (and perhaps the buck tooth as well?).

Hey, maybe large eyes with double eyelids is a natural aesthetic preference in East Asia independent of Europeans. The people in Asia don't want to look more white; they just somehow want my eyes!


Pei said...

I have to disagree. The obsession with the double eyelid is a relatively recent development. If you look at classical Chinese art, it's not the big eyes that are emphasized. It's small feet, a lilting gait, slender neck, white skin, lustrous hair. Very little mention of big eyes.

You don't look stereotypically Chinese because the Western stereotype is of a southern Chinese. Of course no one in China would mistake you for something else because 99% of the people there are Chinese no matter what they look like.

Cat said...

You make a valid point. But my sense is that Chinese ppl (who have not seen alot of white people) view Caucasians as exotic, kind of similar to how certain whites view Asians. I am not sure if the goal is to look like whites... need to consult an anthropologist.

Pei said...

Maybe not consciously, but whether they like it or not white people have been the dominant race for awhile now. Anyone who's rich enough to get plastic surgery has probably been highly exposed to Western media: magazines, movies, billboards, retail ads, etc. And whether you know it or not, you start thinking THOSE women are beautiful.

Cat said...

It's true -- when I was a teenager, I wanted to look white too and fit into the popular crowd. But now I wouldn't change anything for being Asian -- I think Asians are beautiful! Aesthetics is a dynamic thing -- in the 80s shoulder pads were in, and now we think they are hideous. So I hope those ladies who had the eyelid surgeries aren't regretting it now -- cuz Asian looks are definitely back in now!

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