Dear Asian Youth,
We are constantly reminded by beauty standards that we are supposed to have glass, porcelain, and youthful skin. We are told that there is no greater mistake than those that we make when we create blemishes, crevices, and imperfections in our skin. Asian people have been subjected to the media marketing of skin care and advertisements depicting women with poreless skin, most of which are more than difficult to achieve. In the age of facetune and incomprehensible expectations of our youth, it is easy for younger audiences to be susceptible to skin insecurity. We watch our favorite influencers back brands that have harmful chemicals and we buy them blindly because we are led to believe that we will achieve the skin texture that we see in professionally edited photos. Social media has made it unacceptable for those who have blemishes to feel welcomed to a society that constantly pushes images of perfection and smooth painted skin to push their capitalistic needs. Even though these images aren’t true to audiences, the public is sold versions of themselves that aren’t attainable. Within Asian culture especially, there is a large shame with having acne, and there is little support and encouragement that you will be able to seek within the community.
Celebrities that many people strive to be more like are heavily influenced by the products that they have available to them, which the general public may not have equal access to. The gift of perfect skin is one that is generally accessed most by those who have larger incomes, who can spend more money on luxurious items for themselves. Though it is possible to achieve your perfect skin texture with just a few products, it is highly rare that you do. It is more often than not that someone will have to go through many different skin product combinations in order to find the routine that is the perfect fit. As the pressure builds to have picture perfect skin, so does the money that is required to buy products that will accomplish that goal. This is not to even begin to mention that many influencers and celebrities that are on social media have dermatologists that can cater to their needs as an individual, which those who do not have insurance can not cover for. The expectations that the general public has for themselves is an unrealistic idea that was solely implemented by the culture that was cultivated around them.
The prominent use of facetune by celebrities and influencers has also created a world of unrealistic expectations. Younger audiences are made to believe that skin beauty is achieved overnight. Having photoshopped perfect skin continues to perpetuate the false narratives that younger people are to hold themselves to, and that it is the beauty standard to live up to those images of perfect skin. By being upfront with an audience about one’s skin struggles, it will create a relatable conversation that many teens and young adults can feel they are comfortable with.
I have always struggled with having acne and skin ever since I started middle school. I was met with lots of criticism from my Asian parents and family, who have continued their comments to the present day, almost 7 years later. They comment on what products to use, how I should wash my face more, to use more products, to use less products, and all of the statements that I have heard one time or another. This is probably common among many Asian families, as they want their children to meet their standard. However, the consistent pressure and negativity can generate skin insecurity that may last longer than the blemishes they seek to criticize. I have always been insecure about how my skin looked. I decided that the only thing that could help me was makeup, which is why everyday of senior year, I wore a full face of makeup to school. Even when inconvenient, I would at least put on a concealer to cover the pimples that had made my face their home for the week. Though I am much more comfortable with not wearing makeup everyday, those comments that I have received about having pimples continue to haunt me all these years later. I have never been able to find products that have eliminated my skin problems. As an Asian American, I feel that we have put a large portion of our criticism on those that have imperfect skin, which is largely undeserved. No one’s skin is the same, and there is no single solution to getting the skin texture you want. The judgement that comes with skin imperfection from specifically the Asian American community has come largely undeserved, and the value that is set by society should not be completely representative of what a person is worth.
This piece is about how social media and Asian American culture can wrongly pressure and criticize youth based on their acne, and the struggles of growing up as someone who has blemishes on their face.
My name is Joshlyn Khuu and I am an 19 year old college student from Anaheim, CA currently studying Political Science at the University of California, Riverside. I hope you enjoyed reading my writing! If you want to follow me on my socials, my Instagram is @joshlynkhuu!
Cover photo source: https://www.refinery29.com/en-gb/2016/06/114494/makeup-artist-acne-experience