I was flipping through Cosmo‘s Feb. issue and was psyched to see an ad by Maybelline featuring a beautiful Asian model.  Of course this isn’t the first time cosmetics companies have used Asian models but, let’s be honest, it isn’t common.
The reason it really stopped me in my tracks had to do with my research on American women’s relationship to beauty over the past year.  To get a true perspective, I needed to speak to representatives of the various ethnic groups that make up our lovely melting pot, tossed salad, choose your metaphor.  After all, ethnic groups don’t all share the same tastes and values, so obviously the same would be true with their expectations with regard to beauty.  One of those groups I studied was Asian-American women.
Unlike some of the other ethnic communities, Asian-American women are a relatively new and small community.  In fact, according to the editor (Anna Park) of a new fashion and beauty magazine for Asian-Americans, Audrey, it’s only recently that Chinese-Americans, Korean-Americans, Japanese-Americans and Thai-Americans actually viewed themselves as being part of a united group.  And being such a small group, many feel they need to fit in to the Caucasian look: white face, round eyes, thin nose.
But what’s even more stressful is that they also have to fit into some of the traditional Asian stereotypes: thin body, straight long black hair, cute personality.  No surprise many young women succumb to eyelid surgery and eating disorders.  There’s a great video by Columbia University students on this topic:
Good news: there’s growing acceptance by Asian-American women of their different and alluring beauty.  But it still needs to be celebrated more.  So when Maybelline shows a beautiful, vibrant Asian woman, I can’t help but cheer for all my Asian-American sisters out there.

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