People love pretty things. That is undeniable; It is encrypted in our DNA - - hint : lookism. But what really constitutes as "pretty" in our mind?
Beauty standards. If you were born to fulfill them, congratulations you are attractive. You are most likely to land a job during interview, receive higher income, more attention, more likely to have strangers pushing the door for you at the entrance and exit, lead a better life than your "unattractive" counterpart, smarter, assumed with all good and positive qualities.
Those are not my words. Many research have been done to conclude that lookism has unconsciously taken over our thought process in judging a person's quality. Wait, thought process? - - oops, I meant 'preference' instead. Which leads to un-thoughtful process.
What happens to those who do not fulfill beauty standards?
'People neglect us', 'less attention', 'less recognition', 'always assumed with negative qualities instead' - these are what my peers usually complain to me. And what I have seen with my naked eyes, with my own experience included. It has been ingrained in our daily life that we are ought to think that it is normal.
So, do we have to take it seriously?
As the world economy powers have becoming too competitive in this modern globalisation era, and the heat has turned to flame drastically due to the alarming shift of global powers, every nations are desperately working up their labors and global market competition to avoid losing to the competition. This has encouraged each countries especially advanced nations like US, UK, Germany, France, Japan, etc to be challenging companies to profit more money which accentuates their influence on their societal behaviour (of their own society). The debris can be found in developing and less developed nations with the emerging of a more competitive investments, where these nations heavily rely on developed nations. Literally on anything. From foods to cosmetics to medical care. Minimum wages have been increased wildly. They say that globalisation is all good but bad deeds are apparent too. Globalisation is not all 'saint' but not a 'devil' that is for sure. Modern cosmetic industry is indeed, a victim of a globalised economy - which creates more victims. All over the world.
Before I dwell further into the cosmetic or beauty industry, let us look at beauty standards.
Beauty standards differ around the world. In the US and much of North America itself, the beauty standards are big eyes, thin pointy nose, plump lips, tanned skin, tall hourglass. In Northeastern Asia (Japan, Korea, China), the beauty standards are big eyes, thin pointy nose, plump lips, fair skin, tall skinny, V-face. In southeast asia, the beauty standards are big eyes, thin pointy nose, plump lips, fair skin, tall thin hourglass, V-face or angular face. In South Asia, the beauty standards are big eyes, thin pointy nose, plump lips, fair skin, tall, thin hourglass body. In Africa, big eyes,thin pointy nose, plump lips, fair skin, hourglass.
Do they really differ much tho? Except for skin color. Northern America and Europe prefers tanned skin while much of Asia prefers fair skin.
Most beauty standards are caucasiod features - eurocentric. (plump lips is the very recent addition to the western beauty standards in the 21st century).
For much of asia, we were colonized by european/US powers and the aristocrats in our country at that time were western colonial officers.
We tend to look up at those who are at the top of the food chain.
Before Western colonization, Asian civilizations had already prefer fair skin for beauty and attractiveness, due to the wealthy families and royals did not have to work outside under the heat of sun. Asians during colonial times were made as 'second class' citizens and led to believe that they were not as clean and elite as the colonial side. Thus, we saw 'caucasiod features' as superior, and Asian features as 'inferior', starting with skin color. Ironically, during colonial era on southeast asia and other tropical countries, western beauty standards changed as well. Due to the colonial activities, colonial officers of high ranks ( western aristocrats at that time) used to bring along their family to their colonial lands. The colonial lands were usually tropical, and these aristocrat families were tanned while abroad. Being abroad itself, when planes were only reserved for highly rich people, has raised the perspective among westerners that tanned skin is a sign of 'abundance of wealth and of high status' due to be able to visit colonial lands. Many colonial officers and families stayed in the colonial lands for years and when they go back home, they were tanned. Plus, most western labour force have been placed indoors in the 90s and tanned skin became quite rare.
However, facial features - wise, caucasiod features are still more desired.
Cosmetic surgery was first introduced to Japan after World War 2 ended, when the American doctors suggested that the women in Japan would have to change their facial features to appear more 'caucasiod' - big eyes, thinner nose - to be more appealing to the westerners.
Truth to be told, the sentiments hit the previously colonized nations harder, although both sides have been dealing with it a fair share. As an Asian, I can confirm that : many Asian nations today (Northeast, Southeast, Pacific, South, Middle East) feel notoriously inferior MORE than the western nations feel superior. I would not blame any side; it is a consequence of a widespread colonization, probably more widespread than the infamous mongolian invasion. If there is anyone to blame, it would be the colonizers who had been eyeing our natural resources. The blame does not change or even solve the problem today.
However, I am more boggled by perspectives.
In case of my countrymen here in southeast asia/pacific, we are born tanned, some have fairer skin than others, with small double lid eyes, wide flattish nose with plump lips and non-angular face. For northeast Asians, fair skin, some have monolids some have double eyelids, with flattish nose but thinner than southeast counterpart, and non angular face. It is almost the same thing with African countries except that Africans have thicker lips, Africans can have the biggest eyes and some have monolids, and darker skin with wider nose. For south Asians, they mostly already posses caucasiod features except that their skin is not white. (that is why cosmetic surgery is not prevalent in India but skin whitening is, which by the way, sells a lot).
It is very DISTURBING due to the fact that between the whole beauty standards, and the ethnic facial features of most Asian countries and African, countries, they differ too much. This creates pressures among the people to look down on their own gene and to look up at foreign looks; in addition to the popularisation of Hollywood and dominating popular Western and media. Now, not only the colonized effect, but the dominating media today too, has been affecting our perspective on attractive people. We have been exposed to media as we grow and it alters our perspective on many things. Among southeast Asians which I am very familiar with, people who have caucasian look, even half of it, are socially privileged for their look; no discrimination.
In my country, those who have flat nose / wide nose are always taken as joke with the popular saying, 'hidung penyet' (flat nose) or 'muka jawa' (Javanese face - which pictures a stereotyped indigenous austronesian look) which are offensive terms. Terms like 'mata besar' (big eyes) , 'muka arab' (arabic face) , 'muka mat salleh' (caucasian face) , 'hidung mancung' (pointy tall nose) are taken extremely positively.
Due to the society that allows this mindset to roam free, the effect of beauty standards in most Asian, African countries triples.
TO BE CONTINUED
Stay tune for Part 2 where we will dwell further into the cosmetic industry and exoticism.