The beauty standards of East Asia

Asian Beauty Standards implies a few questions: What is Asian beauty? and what are the beauty standards in East Asia? Can we define what Asian beauty is? Every time I try to explain to people (or ask for information) what is the so-called Asian Beauty, also trying to bring the conversation to a different level, I stumble upon the same type of reactions: is it about those products with a cute packaging?

That’s easily understandable if you think in-depth: lately, Asia has become recognized internationally for its attention to beauty products and its constant research and more and more people are attracted to this kind of beauty routine. Mostly, Asian beauty products have reached our shelves because they’re cute and they’re extremely Asian. Not many people really know the benefit of using a certain type of products… but the majority is attracted by how adorable they are, by the fact they’re not boring and they’re also a reminiscence of childhood.

Cute Asian Products
I mean, who can resist?

Let’s move from this, even if hard!

When we think of Asian girls and women, automatically our mind gets filled with images of beautiful women with smooth and milky complexions and no wrinkles at all. On a superficial level, in fact, Asian Beauty refers to every beauty practice, coming from Asia and specifically from Japan, China, Taiwan & South Korea, which assures smooth and milky complexions. And, in reality, that’s true: beauty products from Asia are thought to serve women’s needs and their desire to be always impeccable.

Traditionally, East Asian women have to adhere to a standard of feminine beauty that suggests they should be sweet and gentle and that’s how we, from the West, see them.

Have you ever watched an anime? If so, pay attention to women: forget about their eyes, way too big, and focus on their skin. The main character is always representative of the classical standards of beauty: shy and without a single bit of makeup on her face, beautiful according to the standards both on the inside and the outside. The rivals, on the opposite, usually wears makeup or provocative dresses or they generally look different ’cause they are not 100% pure inside so, automatically, they’re not pure on the outside as well. Only exceptions: characters derived from mythological creatures, such as Lum, for instance.

manga women
Can you spot the differences?

Regardless to their role on the anime or movies, women in media always represent the standard of Asian beauty we all know: a baby-like complexion with very few makeup and styled in a way that is cute and soft.

Asian Beauty Standards are totally different from Western beauty standards.

Beauty means moderation and moderation also express itself in the form of a porcelain pale skin. In Asia (Japan, China, Taiwan & Korea), in the past being pale meant being healthy and wealthy and was one of the main signs to identify a poor and a rich woman; time after time, the idea has slightly changed but it still remains eradicated.

According to many studies and shreds of evidence, Asian skin doesn’t experience premature aging because they have higher levels of natural hydration. On the other side, Asian skin is more prone to hyperpigmentation (aka darkening of an area of the skin because of the production of too much melanin) and this condition is considered a sign of aging. That’s why women of all ages are so keen on products with skin-whitening properties: they don’t want to look Caucasian, the just want to look healthy and young, in respect to their tradition.

A porcelain skin, an oval face shape with a straight nose and double eyelids: this is the idea of beauty in Asia and the way you look is equally competitive with the work experience and education you have.
To reach the goal and meet up the standards, Asian women adopt a holistic, in-depth approach where the skin is king and requires attention and time. A constant research that in many cases people feel pressured to reach this standard of beauty to adopt drastic measures (such as surgery).

At this point and to go back to the initial question, What is Asian Beauty, is fair to say that this question doesn’t come with an easy answer.

There’s surely a cultural and social element in all of this, where many Asian women and men see their appearance as a way to confirm and express who they are, how they’re seen in the society and how they want to be seen for us.

But aside from this, to me the so-called Asian beauty is an act of respect for yourself: the act of planning some time, daily, just to take care of yourself is a way to nourish your person and your life. It’s also a way to nurture your soul and appreciate some solo-time.

[Cover pic by Giuseppe Milo]

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