Hi, My Name is Jane and I am Proud to Say My Last Name is Choi and I Love My Slanted Mono-Lid Eyes
Mono-lid definition: are eyes that do not have a crease on the eyelid.
I was wearing an earring shaped like a long thin bar going vertical. A friend of mine said, “I like the earrings. They look terrific on you. They complement your eyes.” I was slightly miffed. Not angry because I’ve known him for a long time. I knew He didn’t mean anything offensive by it. He knew I was miffed. He was explaining that he didn’t say anything offensive, and he likes my slanted Asian eyes. Even though he meant it as a compliment, I was offended. I was offended by his description of my eyes as being slanted. The thing is, my eyes are slanted. It’s a fact. Why did I get annoyed by him saying my eyes are slanted? I realized it was because I viewed my eyes being slanted as a negative thing.
I didn’t come to that conclusion right away. The incident pestered in my head. A short time later, I was getting my blood work done. The Nurse was chatty and sweet. She mentioned her surprise that my face was so light even though I was Asian. The Asians she has met are from the Philippines or Thailand. Living in Miami Beach for 8 years and coming across very few Koreans does not surprise me. I might be the first Korean person she has met. I told her the different types of Asians and how Philippinos and Taiwanese tend to be a little bit darker than Koreans. She mentioned that though they are darker, they all have the slanted eyes. This time I didn’t get offended. She was right. She didn’t say it to hurt me. She didn’t say it with any type of malice. It would be like saying you have red hair. If you have red hair, why would you be offended?
In this moment I was fully conscious that I had viewed my slanted eyes as a bad thing. The reason I was so offended was that subconsciously I had made myself believe that having slanted eyes made you unpretty. A viewpoint that was confirmed growing up. I was taunted for my flat face, small slanted eyes, or as the mean kids would say “chinky eyes.” The truth is my face is flat, and I do have slanted eyes. What is different now is that I’m ok with that. There’s nothing wrong with having flat features. There’s nothing wrong with having slanted eyes. I realized I was trying to reach society’s beauty of what beauty is, while not appreciating my own unique beauty.
Another challenge was I didn’t fit into the Asian stereotypes either. I didn’t know how to play the piano. I didn’t know martial arts. I wasn’t good at or liked math. I wasn’t in AP classes, and I wasn’t skinny. By American standards, I was slightly overweight. By Asian standards, I was fat. Growing up in America, I felt like I wasn’t white enough nor Asian enough.
As a kid, my favorite book and character was Candy Candy (And yes, that’s two Candys.) The main character is a white blond big doe-eyed girl with long lashes. Now I realize how unhealthy that book was for me. The twisted part is it’s not even American. It was written by a Japanese writer Kyoko Mizuki. I had the Korean version. I read every single series. I wanted to be Candy Candy. No wonder my whole perception was so warped. I mean, this is what I grew up looking up to, a character who was supposed to be Asian, I thought, but she looked utterly opposite of myself and any Asian I’ve ever encountered. All the physical attributes I admired of hers I lacked. So, the conclusion I came to be was that I must not be pretty.
There weren’t many Asian girls around to look up to when I was young. On television, movies, and fashion, all I saw were people who looked opposite of me. All of these factors made me feel unpretty. I felt ashamed of my features. Everyone around me that represented the “pretty and happy people,” were mostly big-eyed, skinny, white blonds. When no one around you tells you your features that are different from what society defines as beautiful is beautiful, you start to feel not beautiful.
Growing up, I always wanted to get a nose job and eyelid surgery and change my last name. Not necessarily in those orders. My last name is Choi. It sounded very Asian to me, and I hated it. I wanted to be Kim or Lee because I felt it sounded more pleasant and less Asian. You see how I said pleasant. As if sounding Asian is less pleasant. But growing up, that’s how my brain was wired.
Rewiring of my brain and beliefs starting with developing healthy habits. Through some deep soul searching and reprogramming of my brain I learned acceptance. In addition, through researching on how to do makeup for my mono-lids eyes on YouTube and other social outlets, I discovered beautiful and wonderful Asian beauties. They shared their skills on how to enhance our beautiful, different and unique features. They spoke about our mono-lid struggles and normalized our features.
Now at age 40 I am not only optimistic about my “Asian-ness” but also embrace it. And now, I love my last name. I’ve even embraced my small slanted mono-lid eyes. They are exotic. I can, without a doubt, finally say I am proud to say, my last name is Choi, and I love my small slanted mono-lid eyes and all my other “Asian-ness” as well.
Below are Asian beauties I follow who helped me accept and love my mono-lid eyes.
Claire Marshall https://www.youtube.com/heyclaire
Sophia Chang https://www.youtube.com/sophiachang
Aimee Song https://www.youtube.com/c/songofstyle