Breaking cultural stereotypes while making friends in exotic places. My recent trip to Beijing has opened my eyes as an American and as I now focus on finishing my degree in Educational Consulting, I hope to share my experiences and knowledge with others so they too can make a difference in the lives of others and their community.
Monday, August 13, 2018
Quick Tips About Chinese Beauty Standards
What makes you feel beautiful? For me, my hair color, whatever color it is this month, is what makes me feel beautiful. Instead of caked on layers of powder, makeup, I utilized dyes to change my appearance. In recent years, I’ve even started wearing colored eye-contacts.
CHI Profile Photo
There is a reason why I change my hair color and eye color. We’ve all had times where we wished we were different. I had to fight to not have bangs anymore when I was twelve and to perm my hair when I was thirteen. And as I started changing my appearance I noticed certain things.
The people around me, be it at school, home, church, in public, or elsewhere, was starting to compliment me for my looks. Instead of some farm girl who liked wearing bagging clothes and had a plain appearance, I suddenly became flashier and more noticeable. Yet, even with all this, I still didn’t make more friends.
So, after a few years of experimenting with straight and curly hair, I stopped and lived with what I had. It wasn’t until I was eighteen that I decided to dye my hair. It was the first time I could do anything unique, besides perming, to my hair. As sweat ran down my face and arms as my mom lathered my virgin hair with Walmart box hair dye, I silently prayed that I wasn’t ruining my hair.
I’m sitting here laughing remembering this because once my mom was done, it didn’t even look like I did anything to my hair. I dyed my hair one shade darker than my original golden-brown. Only one person noticed my hair when I went to school the next day and she only found out after she asked if I did anything to my hair. I was cautious with what I did to my hair in the beginning, but now, I find myself with either the darkest brown or black as a hair color.
When I signed up for CHI (Cultural Homestay International), I had to send in an introductory letter and a few photos of myself and my family to potential host families. Many of my photos showed me with black hair and my host family assumed this is what I was going to look like when I arrived.
To their surprise, I looked completely different. Before I arrived, I decided to experiment with Ombre hair. Instead of the same black hair I’ve lived with since I was eighteen, I bleached half my hair light brown and blond.
My host mom immediately told me that she liked my red-black hair better and I agreed with her. Dora, my host sister, loved my hair and couldn’t stop playing with it because of the unique color. I knew Dora only liked my hair color because it was different from hers.
Your hair not black? Wow.
You will be stared at in China if you have a unique hair color—any color that isn’t dark brown or black. Even having thin hair and curly hair is seen as unique. There are plenty of Chinese people with dyed hair and I occasionally saw someone sporting golden blond hair. Luckily for me, my hair was not the only thing that made me unique.
Though this may be seen as negative, I learned to enjoy the fact that I was the only white person around where I lived. I didn’t once see another Caucasian person in the northern part of the district, Fengtai District, in the thirty-three days I lived there.
I had hoped that when I arrived in China, that I would fit in better than I do in America. What I’m trying to say is that I thought my weight, physical body structure, would be like Chinese people. I was always told that Asians look younger and are generally skinner than the rest of the world. And this was true to a point.
In China, for the last decade or so, fast food restaurants have swept the nation. McDonald's, Subway, KFC, Burger King, and Pizza Hut are only a few Westerner fast food joints that have taken over China.
Because of this, there has been an increase in childhood obesity in China. The risk of diabetes has skyrocketed. And children are less physically active than ever before.
I met many Chinese families where the children are stockier. Suddenly, I was the smallest kid in town once again. Even my host mom mentioned that I was “super skinny” and that I needed to eat more. This told me that I needed to gain some weight because if I’m considered “too skinny” to the Chinese, I’m not at a healthy weight.
All Asians are short, right? Wrong! Still, I found a fair share of short people, some who were even shorter than my younger sister who is four foot eleven. Many of the shorter people were older individuals. The younger generation, my generation and younger, were tall. Some of the guys had to bend down in the subway because their head touched the ceiling.
I'm taller than my mom! :)
My slightly below the average height of five foot three was normal enough that I fit in a crowd easily and many times could see over people if I needed to. Like in America, there are short people and tall people. There seemed to be an equal mix of both in China.
One thing that is interesting is that many of the men are about the same height as the women. In America, the guys are generally taller than the women. I saw many couples who were nearly identical in height. For the first time, a woman could kiss her boyfriend without having to stand on her tippy toes.
There is an eye color that fascinates the Chinese. My host sister always talked about it and my host parents said the eye color was the most beautiful.
Blue. If you have blue eyes and were blessed with natural blond hair, you will be considered beautiful. Part of this is because blue eyes and blond hair are not normal in China or in any Asian country. Everything is about being exotic, and if you have blue eyes, you are in the club.
What makes you feel beautiful? Does wearing makeup make you feel powerful? Does changing your hair color make you feel free?
I enjoy changing my hair color but have little interest in makeup. I was unique when I lived in China because I did nothing to my appearance that was striking, besides the Ombre. I let my natural beauty stand out and I did nothing to cover up blemishes. I know I’m not a one-of-a-kind. There are other people out there who don’t wear makeup.
Do you wear makeup? What makes you feel the most beautiful? Leave your answer below in the comment section and share this post with friends and family.