Do Asians Really Want To Look Like Ang Mohs?

Not long ago I read a controversial post by fellow blogger Xiaxue, about Asian girls coloring their hairs blond, and how exactly that wouldn’t have anything to do with “wanting to be Ang Moh”.

Let’s say I was skeptical. After all there is an undeniable appearance of Western peoples or styles in advertisement and campaigns all over Singapore’s streets. The West is cool, big eyes are beautiful and being fair is the ideal. But is that actually really the case? Do we, the supposedly adored ones, maybe just wish being that ideal picture?

How The Ball Got Rolling

Sitting at my place me and my friend were talking about … Blond Asian Girls. And don’t ask me how we actually hit that topic but suddenly it was there. (And I really have no clue, damn short term memory)

However after chatting about weirdness and looks in general, we got to the point were I said “Hey, but all Asian girls always want to look like Ang Moh!
Where he quickly replied with a more or less surprising, and even slightly disgusted “No Lah!

And that’s when the discussion started.

My Slightly Wrong Idea About Asian Ideals

Arriving in Asia and traveling around every now and then, I have build up a general idea of what I believe, Asians think is good looking, nice and adorable.

Obviously I was wrong in at least some points. The picture that had painted itself in my mind was influenced by “Whitening Cream” (the ultimate “WOW – That does exist?” for every first time Asia visitor), Umbrella swinging girls in bright sunshine, Caucasians or mixed people with very obvious Western-look in TV or print advertisements and all the brabbeling about plastic surgery, big eyes etc.

Then you read every day about the “Western Influence” and how Singapore would be the “most European Asian City” and without much thinking I had adopted the opinion that obviously Caucasians and their look are seen as some kind of ideal to go after. You can’t blame me, right?

The Obvious Denial Of Your Culture

I blogged about it before and I could never understand why anyone would reach out for another culture to adopt and go after. I am fascinated by Asia, its diversification and the depth of the different cultures. And every time I read a travel magazine or official brochure mentioning the “Most European Asian City”, I shake my had in regards to this obvious conflict.

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‘)); ?> So I was always wondering where this cult about double-eye lids and white skin comes from, why english songs are more popular then local ones and why Pizza, Schweins Haxe and Weissbeer are so popular (and expensive) in Asia.

Its Not About Us

As my friend and me were sitting there, discussing this hot topic with pictures of hot girls sliding by on the Computer screen in the back, I confronted him with the following arguments:

  • So what about the longing for fair skin, walking in the shadow and the so mystical whitening cream? It’s obvious you want to look “white” (caucasian?)
  • • In fact this one wasn’t really my best argument to be true, and I realized myself that out of the historical sheer fact that having fair skin means that you don’t have to work outside, and hence could be considered wealthy already makes the point. No more questions about “Fair Skin = Ang Moh Skin”
  • What about all the European stuff, clothes, music etc.?
  • • Again, the not really surprising answer. Why do you have chinese restaurants in Europe, why is everything from Japan considered uber-cool? It’s the things that one doesn’t have easy access to, that make them interesting. (Although I still get annoyed about a Hofbrauhaus in Thailand, I mean… wtf?)

The Deep Ang Moh Eyes

To be honest I was only building tension to my (so I believed) Killer-Argument, the big eyes. The Ang Moh eyes. How wrong I was.

  • So tell me my friend, Big Eyes, Double Eye Lids, it can’t be more obvious Ang Moh, right?
  • • And here comes the really surprising part. “Big Ang Moh eyes? Uuuh, no! You have deep eyes, we don’t want that!”

I had never really sat down to compare my forehead with the one of any local friend, but at that point I jumped up to the mirror.. and it was true. I actually have “deep eyes”, where my eye part lies much more back then Asians eye part does.

It’s not about having Ang Moh eyes, its only about having Big eyes, more like having… Manga (the typical and uber famous Asian comics) character eyes.

Shocked I sat down and a big Ang Moh tear rolled down from my deep eyes… just kiddin’ but its fascinating what year-long believes can be (interestingly) shattered within minutes of a half-drunk conversation.

Let’s quickly clear some more prejudices, shall we?

comments

11 Comments

Singchester

I used to think the same thing that Asians crave to have certain western characteristics because they think it’s better than Asian ones. But I learnt a little bit about why these trends have come about too. Here’s my outlook:

A lot of these trends come from Japanese influence where they try to look more like the Anime and Manga characters, typically drawn with fair skin, coloured hair and huge eyes with blue/green/light brown/purple eye colours.

The Whitening cream: What your friend said is partly true, Asians do believe it’s a sign of wealth as you don’t have to do hard labour out in the sun. But more modern beliefs for whitening cream is that fairer skin makes you look younger, and a lot of products aim to get rid of spot marks or freckles by “lightening” them.

Big Eyes: The whole double eyelid thing is to make your eyes seem bigger, and Asians believe that people with double eyelids are generally prettier than those with single ones (sad I know). Circle lenses are also used to make your eyes seem bigger and prettier by making them look glossier too.

Hair colour: For some it may be a case of wanting to look more western, for others it’s just following an extreme trend and partly there is a Japanese influence again. I personally think that Asians with blonde hair generally follow a certain style (generally Japanese trends) and they like to be a bit more extreme haha. But others really can’t pull it off and it just looks wrong. Others who don’t want to go blonde generally settle for a brown. Hair colour is easy to change if you want a different look and once it seems like the “in” thing to do, the rest just follow.

Older generations and a more traditional outlook will think that girls who dye their hair, lighten their skin tone, use eyelid glue etc etc are abadoning their Asian roots and heritage. But I think the younger generation just wants to do these things because they can look pretty/different/trendy/unique and just put together their own sense of style.

I personally think it’s a case of you always want what you don’t have.

Personally I think it’s just a case of you always want what you don’t have.

KM

In Chinese and East Asian societies, fair skin has always been associated with beauty. It has nothing to do with wanting to look white.

On the contrary, girls who tan themselves are the ones who follow western trends. In China you will be hard pressed to find a girl who tan herself on purpose.

Mark

Nobody seems to be ever satisfied with their own looks.

A lot of Chinese girls often ask me how my skin got so white. I tell them my secret: Eat ham and cheese sandwiches every day for at least 10 years. That worked for me at least.

xiaxue means...

“disgrace” in hokkien. I have avoided reading her blog for years cos she’s true to that word. After reading her tirade against the couple, I guess she’s gone from bad to worse. Too full of herself. Don’t understand why she has such a fan base. Says a lot abt her fans I guess…. “Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit”. That’s all I can say abt xiaxue…And I actually cringe when I see Asians with blonde hair and “blue” eyes. It’s just wrong.. Gong Li , Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi and Shuqi – all Asians who are glam and Asian ! And lots of hot looking Asian guys who look Asian too. We should stay Asian and be proud of it !!

neutrinos

I believe that the hair coloring thing is due to influence of japanese fashion. The next question is what is the influencer of japanese fashion ^^;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKTvFhRbBt8

Interesting, someone had done an analysis if anime characteristics are derived from caucasian types.

Overanalysing? =P

Kenneth

Asian girls usually love to get themselves fairer, Caucasian girls usually like to get themselves tanned.
Xiaxue? She has an ‘angmo’ boyfriend, so it would make sense for her to make herself look as caucasian as possible.

ve

its not about caucasian..
in indonesia..they want to have fair skin..like japanese and chinese..not like ang mo skin :)

pity-the-foo'

yeaahhh….i’m not buyin’ all these arguments. You’re first presumption is correct, unfortunately.

laowai

Sure, a lot this decades pop fashion and style derived from Manga. Yeah, good thinking. But not quite deep enough. Research into the origins of Manga. Learn a little “wasei-gairaigo”. Try to consider fashion/pop culture in the context of the industrialization of Asia. At the onset of widespread manufacturing most orthopraxical cultures of Asia abandoned their costumes/ traditional architecture and then, emulated or adopted foreign medical theory, vernacular-style literature, Abrahamic monotheistic religion and political theory. The hierarchical Asians are styled as the white-man. No doubt about it. They wear ties and suits: ha ha ha ha ha. I never understand a Chinese guy wearing tie. Yeah, they aren’t copying the West wholesale. Sure, they don’t have rich cultural histories. No. Don’t they, not?

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