Struggles with Asian American Beauty, Monolids and Make-up

It’s pitiful but true: I am 29 years old and I still don’t know how to properly wear make-up. The upside is that I feel like I don’t necessarily have to: being Asian has somehow translated into aging more slowly than the rest of my demographic, which means I don’t have any crow’s feet or weird spots (yet) to conceal on my face. The downside is that I still don’t have a clue what to do when it comes to sitting down in front of the mirror and making myself look presentable (or at least not as greasy as my face tends to get every day around 3:00PM). Yet, how do all these other women figure it out?

I hate to admit it but I believe that my biggest setbacks are my monolid eyes. Instead of a double crease, I have a pair of eyelids that tend to simply disappear when I open my eyes. Where do they go? I have no idea. Sure, basic biology would say it’s somewhere in my eye socket but after years of attempting to wear eyeshadow, I truly believe it’s some sort of eyelid heaven where they can prance around with unicorns and mock me in my sad pursuit of looking pretty. So while my eyelids are having fun, this means my eyes lack a crease to accentuate or highlight with eyeshadow.

Beauty advice columns in Glamour and Seventeen were useless; I even bought the late Kevyn Aucoin’s Making Faces book to see what a make-up artist would have to offer for a poor face like mine, but his only advice was to mimic a crease below my eyebrows. No thanks. I understand the attempt to add more depth to my eyelids but I feel like it only perpetuates the idea that a Western looking face is “prettier” than an Asian one. Also, any attempt for a smoky eyelid only makes me look like someone stopped by to punch me in the face.

I’m usually okay with this. I mean, let’s be real. My face is usually amazingly hot enough that I don’t need eye make-up but the worst part is trying to explain the situation to well intentioned non-Asians who don’t understand why I can’t just brush on some eyeshadow and call it a day. I remember the first time I had to cope with this make-up issue was at a dress rehearsal for our middle school play. I had the role of some background character in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and though I loved my vintage costume, I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to make up my face. The Caucasian mother of another student offered to help but before I could explain what the real problem was, she managed to brush bright green eyeshadow over my eyelids. The next ten minutes went something like this:

Lady smears green eyeshadow for my eyes.

White Lady

There we go. Now open your eyes.

I open my eyes. Green eyeshadow disappears.

White Lady

Hmmm. Close your eyes again.

I close my eyes. She brushes more eyeshadow on.

White Lady

Okay, now open your eyes.

I open eyes. Green eyeshadow disappears.

White Lady

Okay, close your eyes again.

I close eyes. She brushes more eyeshadow on.

White Lady

How about now?

I open my eyes. Eyelids disappear.

White Lady

Well, then.

By the time I managed to wrestle my face away from her hands, the green eyeshadow had reached my eyebrows, making it look like the Hulk had stopped by the dressing room to punch me in the face. It was great. Needless to say, I wiped my face clean with some cold cream and then went on to portray my silent-but-rather-plain-looking character with smashing success.

Looking for make-up advice in Japan is almost embarrassing. I scour the pages of Japanese fashion magazines and blogs as often as I can, but they seem to be obsessed with double eyelids. It’s disheartening to see tutorial after tutorial for an eye shape that I can only achieve with surgery or–god forbid–the awful tape or glue. I can’t help feel like even my own home country doesn’t believe that a girl like me can even wear proper make-up and that the only solution to look pretty is add an extra fold above my eyeballs. (I did try the eyelid glue once. It gave me a migraine.)

So what’s a girl like me to do? I can search through YouTube tutorials to find that perfect look, I can cheat by wearing eyelid tape and finally put my eyeliner to full use or I can resign myself to looking like a face victim of The Hulk. Are there any other ladies out there who can successfully wear make-up on their monolids? Any tips you can share? Please make me look pretty.

[Photo courtesy of my sister.]

Thanks for rating this! Now tell the world how you feel - .
How does this post make you feel?
  • Excited
  • Fascinated
  • Amused
  • Disgusted
  • Sad
  • Angry

About Moye

I am a Japanese-American girl who was born, raised and is most probably stuck in traffic right this second in Los Angeles. I'm currently one of the co-editors of 8Asians and like to distract myself with good food, reading long books, playing video games, catching up on celebrity news, choosing my new new haircut and then writing all about it on Hello Moye and sometimes here on Twitter if I can get it in under 140 words or less. You can reach me at moye[at]
This entry was posted in Fashion, Health. Bookmark the permalink.