Beauty Is The Beast?

Why are the Western cultural assumptions of beauty viewed as key tools to getting the word out about your cause?

Ms. Tibet Beauty Contest

The following quote is from the girl pictured above, (click to read the full article):

“Culture is not like stagnant water that remains in a pool,” Lhazey said. “It is like a flowing river, it keeps on evolving, and Tibetan women should go along with this.”

Go along with what exactly? In another part of the article, she implies that she dreams of winning the Ms. Tibet Beauty Contest to increase awareness about Tibet’s situation. I’m assuming a simple press release or documentary just would not suffice. It’s the same thing that I don’t understand about the PETA people when they send out nude models for street demonstrations or print ads.

Trust me, I’m not asking that Asian beauties be represented to account for equality. In fact, I’m asking AA Christians to stick up for the subtle aesthetics that we’re stereotyped for because I believe the Asian pre-condition has been one of subconscious misogyny (yeah, I said that) and subjugation of women and these Western notions of beauty wound the psyche of Asian / Asian American women even more than other people groups. Here’s one study abstract that supports that notion.

When Asian Americans are showing a significantly lower self-esteem (as in this study), and the fact that Asians worldwide are being “marketed” broadly in terms of beauty, AA churches need to respond in constructive ways to affirm and help young women find that their identity in Christ supports a wholesome definition of beauty, not Western, not evolving culture, not Asian subjugation, but one that is indeed beautiful, broken and beautiful (shameless, unrelated plug for my wife’s favorite artist, Mark Schultz).

The time is now…

“In general people in the United States are more accepting of Asian aesthetics and Asian beauty,” [Kyeyoung Park] said, although people are quite confused about what exactly being Asian and beautiful means.

Being Asian and beautiful…do we as Asian American Christians know how to make our women feel this way? Are we confused about what this means as well?

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Comments

  1. elderj says:

    what you suggest is a political and social agenda that may be frightening for many, especially given the immigrant desire to blend in and not stick out. I find it interesting that although Black people have horrible statistics in just about every category, they tend to think of themselves as beautiful, and for the most part simply don’t care about mainstream (i.e. white) beauty standards. It was not always so. Blacks were not always able or willing to “say it loud; I’m Black and I’m proud” as the James Brown song states it. What was needed on the heels of the social and political revolution of the sixties was a cultural revolution that affirmed Black beauty and cultural (sometimes erroneously and to our detriment). The church was part of this shift and even encouraged it as many churches adopted more culturally appropriate models of worship than what had previously been tolerated. In essence, we learned to stop aping white people and learned, by God’s grace, to love who God had made us to be. It is this revolution that needs to happen in the asian church

  2. khampa1 says:

    “Beauty is the Beast?” or Yellow is Mellow? Why do we need a organization of a church(Asian or other) or a political organization to approve anything? Have we as individual people lost a sense of being? One man, James(the God-father of soul)Brown felt it, said it & mean it.” I’m black & Proud!” Everyone else realized it,accepted it & shouted it. Muhammad Ali(the Greatest) said, ” Me,We ” a great poem & statement.
    Use one’s talent(beauty),seize the opportunity and make the most of it for a good cause regardless of what any organization or people think. Keep the faith & struggle. Free Tibet!
    a Tibetan

  3. john gannon says:

    I call Tibetan Camel Toe!

  4. Pasang says:

    Beauty competition is just a title, modernization is part of socialization and key to human adaptation. Changing fashion sense is bravo but remaining and endeavoring once true cultural background is essential! Free Tibet – Compete and never fear losing!!!
    Pasang Wangmo

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