People would sometimes ask me if I’m part Asian. I’ll usually respond by saying, “Somewhere down the line.” My slanted eyes are a dead giveaway.
I used to feel self conscious about them. Whenever I laughed they’d become more pronounced. There was the occasional annoying class clown who would slant his eyes by using his fingers, as a way of poking fun. But, I never let him bother me. There were others who would compliment their unique shape. I remember being told by pageant coaches to apply eye shadow and make them pop.
I’ve grown to love my eyes for its uniqueness. I appreciate the encouragement I received from mentors to make them stand out. However, some people aren’t as fortunate. When TV host and anchorwoman, Julie Chen revealed that she went under the knife after being told that her hooded Asian eyes would stunt her career, it brought me back to being teased by that class clown. Even though I never felt pressured into getting plastic surgery to alter my appearance, I do understand the desire to want to succeed. I can relate to Chen’s struggle with wanting to blend in. As an on-air personality, I’ve been told that I wouldn’t be considered for a job because of my dark features. I’ve also been called into the office for my ‘hair issues.’
In the news biz straight hair is often preferred over curly hair. For me, getting a relaxer every six to eight weeks was a must. I no longer straighten my hair, but I do rock a wig. Is that selling out? No, I call it making a smart choice. Rather than fry my own, I’ve decided get a fake one. I’ve got bills to pay and a family to take care of. So, I’ll do what I have to do.
As a parent, I feel that it’s important to set an example for my children. I wouldn’t want them to feel that they must change their appearance to fit in. But at the same time, they may have to find some sort of middle ground. I’m prepared to have that discussion with them when the time is right.
The bottom line is that sometimes you have to make difficult choices in order to reach a goal. For Julie Chen, it happened to be getting plastic surgery so that her eyes would appear bigger. She’s received backlash from people within the Asian community. But for what it’s worth, I applaud her for making that tough decision. It couldn’t have been an easy thing to do. Critiques say that she’s giving in to the Western standards of beauty, but I think she’s courageous. Besides, she doesn’t look less Asian to me!