Posts Tagged ‘Beauty

24
Sep
13

Asian American Beauty Standards Don’t Apply in Asia

I remember reading some blog awhile back about a Cuban/Filipino/Korean/American that wrote about her experiences teaching English in Korea and that she wasn’t considered beautiful enough in South Korea.  The internet was full of outrage and disbelief.  I’m sure those commenters weren’t Asian from Asia and NOT Korean.  Without even looking at her photo, my reaction was “DUH!”.  After seeing her picture, my thoughts were confirmed.  All that article told me is she was incredibly uninformed about a country that she went to live and work in and knew nothing about the culture at all.  She was shocked and disappointed that being a quarter Korean descent she wasn’t accepted by her people.  That tells me she’s an American through and through and either unbelievably naive, or looking for publicity.

I’m a generation 1.5 immigrant-I came here about age 4, and grew up here with my immigrant parents.  I’m straddling that line between the Old World and the New.  Both Koreans and Americans see me as “other”.  I have never been to Korea since we left.  My American friends can’t understand why I wouldn’t want to see my native land.  They don’t get it.  I’m a full-blooded Korean with very Korean features, but I would not be accepted in Korea.  For one, I’m not fluent in the language. Even if I were, I would still be looked at as American, but not quite.  My white friends would have a very different time there than I.  They wouldn’t be treated with the kind of suspicion, prejudice, and contempt that I would.  They would think Koreans were very nice and tolerant.  What they don’t understand is that their behavior would be overlooked because they are white.  The attitude is that Westerners are barbarians and don’t know any better and it’s useless to teach them as they are beyond hope.  It’s like indulging a misbehaving retarded child.

As for me, I would be judged as a traitor of sorts.  Although I am from the same stock, the fact that I grew up in America means that I’m tainted and corrupted.  I’m not really Korean because I don’t conform to every aspect of their culture.  Not speaking the language and fully adhering to the customs disqualifies me from being Korean to the natives.  As a woman, I am also expected to conform to sexist behavioral norms.  I’’m far too outspoken, aggressive, and loud.  I am not demure and submissive and as a feminist, would be an outcast and extremely threatening.  Again, this is to be expected in Westerners, but on this, I would be judged as a bad Korean.

Being female also subjects me to more intense scrutiny and a set of criterion in terms of appearance.  I’m way too big.  When my mother visited Korea, she never brought any clothes or shoes back as early as 7th grade, as my broad shoulders and size 9 feet wouldn’t fit into the standard sizes sold there.  Good God, every Korean girl grows up being told she’s clumsy like a bear, has tree trunk or daikon radish legs, and constantly criticized about being fat by everyone in the community unless she fits the 98lb mold.  So if that’s normal in the Korean community in America, what do you expect it’s going to be like in an entire nation with this mentality?.  I scoff at her emotional distress after a few months-try living with that your whole life!

She should have known she would have been rejected from the outset because she is not full Korean.  Asians in general don’t celebrate diversity and being mixed race is not accepted, especially in Korea.  For her to be ignorant and surprised about this seems disingenuous.  Whether this attitude is right or wrong is a topic for another column on another day, and I’ll get to it.  What I’m talking about is walking into the lion’s den and being surprised that the lion would bite.  And then playing victim and looking for sympathy.  “Woe is me, I walked blindly into the lion’s den and I was mauled, traumatized, and scarred for life.”  I’m just incredulous at her stupidity.

When I looked at her picture and saw her skin tone, that would be the first indicator that she would be unattractive to Koreans, and frankly to the vast majority of Asians, even Asians whose natives are mostly of a darker skin tone.  Of course, Americans are already clambering onto their soapboxes with megaphones at the ready to shout “Racism!”.  Sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s Western projections of their own racist attitudes onto other cultures.  If anything, it’s classist and elitist.  Think about it, Koreans have a long history and culture, and Westerners only appeared recently in the whole context of things.  Long before ever seeing people of any other race, the Korean beauty ideal was a pale complexion.  This was representative of being rich and privileged enough to live a life of leisure and not become tan from toiling in the fields like a peasant.  After Westerners came to Korea, they brought their racist attitudes with them and influenced this already exclusionary mindset.

It’s stories like hers that make me realize that our media and society really represents a limited and one-sided perspective on things.  Everything is framed through one lens and we seem to operate in total ignorance, or arrogance of other viewpoints.  Maybe we just ignore the attitudes of other countries that we don’t like or aren’t in accordance with our values. The message I take away from this is that while America is celebrating diversity, it’s just lip service since they don’t  know jack shit about the cultures they are supposedly embracing.  I also believe that free speech as well as discussion about unpleasant realities and viewpoints are choked off by the strangle hold of political correctness.  Only those viewpoints that have been sanitized are the ones that are heard in our mainstream media and as such constitute propaganda.

It’s ironic to me that this woman who went to teach in a foreign country clearly didn’t do her homework before deciding to go there.  Graded on lack of preparation, poor research,  and unfamiliarity with subject material, I give her an “F”.  I suspect part of the problem is she grew up in an era in America  of fake self-esteem where “everyone is beautiful in their own way” and everyone gets a trophy for showing up and everyone can be special.  I come from the Old World way which is second place means you lost, not everyone can be special, it’s a dog eat dog competitive world, and you should always strive for betterment, not acceptance of your flaws.  In America, if you aren’t really beautiful but tell others you are, people would give you some fake encouragement or keep quiet.  In Korea, if you were delusional and immodest enough to proclaim yourself beautiful when you’re not, the community at large would shout you down in no uncertain terms to your face.  Don’t get all offended.  I didn’t say the Korean view is totally right, just stating that’s the reality of the way they would see it.

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23
Sep
13

Tattoos are the Ultimate Stamp of Conformity

vailtattoo

Miss America, that moribund, hidebound, old fashioned bastion of white bread, conservative, middle America has had it’s first contestant with a tattoo.  Yes, it’s official folks, tattoos are the ultimate stamp of conformity and hypocrisy.  Any cool factor has long been dead and now popular culture affirms it.

People with tattoos think they are marking themselves as rebels from mainstream society.  Please, when Miss America has tattoos, every soccer mom is sporting some shitty Tinker Bell or flower on her ankle, when your grandparents are getting tattoos, it’s not hip, cool, or alternative anymore.

They claim that it’s an expression of individuality.  Sorry to say, you think you’re being an individual but people are prone to being influenced by whatever’s trendy at the time.  If everyone was so unique, why is there such an abundance of bad tattoo trends amongst huge swaths of people?  Let’s just name a few:barbed wire, 8 balls, black panthers, tribal tattoos, the ‘50’s revival tattoos that are now firmly associated with the garish Ed Hardy brand and Sailor Jerry’s rum, and dating yourself with shitty band tattoos.  My favorite is idiots who get their name tattooed on them.  What is that for, so you don’t forget who you are, to ID yourself when you get Alzheimer’s?

I am scornful of all those trendy shitheads that got Chinese characters or Japanese kanji, only to find out later what they have permanently etched on themselves isn’t what they thought-wrong symbol, backwards, nonsense.  It’s particulary stupid because for most Asians, tattoos are for hookers and criminals.  I remember once my  Chinese boss was staring at the tattoos on a customer’s arm of Chinese characters.  When I asked him what he was staring at, he said “ I cannot figure it out, so I keep looking.  Then I realize it is character for ‘death’, but backwards!”  After laughing our asses off for awhile, he shook his head, “I don’t understand how come he will put something like that on his body.  For the Chinese, that is a very bad luck to write ‘death’ on yourself.  That is like cursing yourself and your family to die.  So stupid.”

Tattoos are totally trendy and to me it’s just an outgrowth of marketing and branding.  It’s the next step in turning us into walking billboards , after having all our clothing festooned with loud graphics and big logos. Why should I do the work of corporations for them?  In fact, the lamest tattoos are those of any kind of logo.  The Nike swoosh, the double C of Chanel are a couple of examples I’ve seen and I can’t imagine a more blatant badge to identify yourself as an idiot and tool of the capitalist consumer corporations.  These fools aren’t even getting paid for branding themselves.  And as the skin ages, it’s like a sad worn out bumper sticker on a beater car.

Look, whatever the fuck you thought was so badass cool at 18, like getting a Pabst beer can tattooed on your arm, hopefully is NOT what you think is going to be cool later on.  Hopefully, you will have gained some taste, class, and maturity and moved on to other interests.  There’s nothing wrong with indulging in fashion and trying on identities, but the problem is when you’ve made those choices permanent and indelible.  It’s just a permanent reminder of what a fuckwit you  once were.

Tattoos advertise the incredible range of bad taste of the wearer.  Your average person has terrible taste.  If people really knew what looked good on them, the stylist profession wouldn’t exist.  Tattoos display the vulgar, unsophisticated, lurid, crass, lame, stupid, tastes of the wearer for all to see.  Not to mention the plethora of incredibly bad “art work” and horrible renditions by untalented tattoo artists.  Especially ugly are any kind of portraiture.  I’m sure part of it is that the original subject is repulsive, and immortalizing them in a badly drawn rendition doesn’t help matters.

As for the argument that tattoos are highly personal expressions.  BULLSHIT!  Yeah, that’s why you got a huge back tattoo, for yourself, because you have eyes in the back of your head.  If it’s a memorial for something personal, hell, make a shrine in your house.  People get tattoos  to show off to other people because it’s a visual medium and usually placed somewhere that  can’t readily be seen well by the wearer.  People feel the need to over share and then say that it’s highly personal.   I’m sure Grandpa would rather have you contribute the amount of time and money you spent on a highly unflattering and grotesque portrait of him, ensconced in a paean of appallingly bad and lurid art, towards a cause or charity that exemplified his spirit and values

Once upon a time, tattoos were a mark of the subversive, the alternative, the rebel.  Now it is the ultimate badge of conformists everywhere and the stamp of a hypocrite that slavishly follows fashion while proclaiming his individualism and  decrying mainstream society, proudly showing his bad taste for all to be forced to see.  The most original, rebellious thing you could do nowadays is resist the urge to stamp yourself as one of the “sheeple”.  Don’t wear your heart on your sleeve literally.  “Methinks he doth protest too much” comes to mind.  An insecure person feels the need to prove himself to others and trumpets his beliefs in the form of advertisements on his skin.  A truly secure person doesn’t need to wear his convictions in an outward symbol.  He shows his beliefs by his words and deeds, not something inked on his skin.