Wednesday, June 23, 2010
On the occasion I would flip through a tween/teen-oriented magazine, I would stare transfixed at the pages detailing makeup tips and advertising various products. My most common concern: the elusive double eyelid. Online research and Asian American Psychology class have since taught me the methods Asian-American women use/have used to give the appearance of the double eyelid, from Scotch tape to surgery. Let's be honest though: any type of surgery is inherently terrifying. My (ir)rational fear of eyes has me squirming just at the thought of having the double eyelid surgery. We watched a documentary in Asian American Psychology that showed a woman going through this process and the way one's eye swells up post-surgery before looking "normal"...I shudder at the thought of the recollection. Is the pain and discomfort worth it? Many women will argue "yes," including some of my own relatives who've used the Scotch tape method.
Sure, it always bothered me that I couldn’t use eye shadow or that I couldn’t use eyeliner the way other women normally would. The fact that I couldn’t use mascara because of my condition was already a bother. But the lack of makeup products available to me helped me become less dependent on chemicals to feel beautiful. I enjoy makeup as much as the next Cosmo girl and my already incomplete eye features do feel even more incomplete without eyeliner, but I’m also aware that there are more important things: character, class, personality, etc.
But then here’s the strange dilemma: If I don’t look Chinese, what (who?) do I look like? As much as I’ve learned that looks are not all important, it’s hard to abandon that appearances do hold a key role in helping shape an identity early on. I can't pretend that my current identity crisis is related to my lack of identification growing up - a little like Gonzo in Muppets From Outer Space, I suppose. (And yes, I just made a Muppet reference. Serious business.) I grew up avoiding mirrors but now, in confronting them, I’ve become confused as to what I’m searching for.