Growing up in Pakistan in the ’90s, I was surrounded by beautiful women
But all the girls at school looked the same. Long, straight hair. Fair skin. Petite frame. And any girl who dared to be different- to have short hair or god forbid a tan because she liked playing sports after school, was branded a ‘tomboy’ and immediately relegated from the dating pool.
I never had to feel that sort of pressure as a boy. So I think that’s pretty f*cked up.
Going to uni in Australia in the mid ‘2000s, I saw the same trend in international students, particularly from South Asia
Some of these girls had full make-up and stilettos on for a 9 am lecture. Frankly, I was impressed with their dedication.
The pressures on Asian women to maintain beauty standards were unreal
And more so than men, these pressures often came from their mothers. Or their aunts. Beyond the age of 18, they were always ‘on show’ for potential suitors.
But I’ve noticed a shift in the last decade and I think it’s a good one
The internet has exposed Asian women to wildly varied examples of beauty. And they’re revolting against the traditional, often suffocating beauty standards forced upon them by the older generations. Against the blatant racism built into these standards. Even TV dramas, a staple of South Asian culture, are trying to tackle body-shaming issues, albeit clumsily at times.
So it feels like we’re heading in the right direction but there’s a long way to go.