Updated: Jun 11, 2021
How have Asian Americans revolutionized the beauty industry?
Growing up Asian American, I recall with wonder how influencers such as Lindy Tsang of BubzBeauty taught viewers resembling me how to embrace common Asian features like hooded eyes. As I consumed hours upon hours of beauty-related videos, I delighted in the fact that Michelle Phan, makeup artist and current owner of Em Cosmetics, shared the same Vietnamese features as me.
Fast forward several years, and the security I feel in my Asian American identity morphs into horror as Asian Americans are blamed for a deadly pandemic that sweeps across the world. According to a study conducted by California State University, San Bernardino, violence against Asians in the 16 major cities within the US rises by nearly 150%. This falsely labeled “Chinese virus,” reveals a greater issue of racism against Asians since our arrival in the United States in the 1800s. However, the beauty industry provides a unique opportunity for Asian Americans to reclaim their identity, as Asian American influencers and businesses pave the way for all diverse creators to come.
Changing the Beauty Game
Not only are more Asian Americans rising as notable entrepreneurs, but Asian Americans also play prominent roles as consumers within the field. According to data from NielsenIQ, Asian Americans outspent the general US population in beauty products by 22.75% within the past year. Furthermore, success stories of Asian-American beauty founders include Brain Oh of Venn and Ju Rhyu of Hero Cosmetics, along with countless other brands.
However, fads such as the “fox eye” trend in 2020 continue to normalize cultural appropriation and racism, revealing how much progress has yet to come. This trend, which involved using a variety of techniques such as shaving off the ends of one’s eyebrows to achieve a more tapered effect, would result in eyes that appeared more narrow and slanted. Despite outrage from Asians claiming that this trend appropriated Asian eyes, many defended the trend as an “aesthetic” designed to make the face appear slimmer. For far too long, Asians have heard taunts to “open their eyes” in pictures and dealt with school bullies pulling their eyes back to mock natural Asian features. Current violence against Asian Americans further exemplifies how stereotypes are not only hurtful but often prove deadly.
Although Asian American Pacific Islander month recently came to a close, it’s not too late to continue the conversation of inclusivity revolving around overlooked communities in all creative industries. Within beauty, proper representation is crucial in deconstructing preconceived notions against all ethnic groups. When the voice of one community is uplifted, everyone shares in the joy of inclusivity and diversity that results. Ultimately, this is also the mission of Boafo Beauty! When you purchase our products, from our loose setting powders to lip liners, you aid in furthering our mission that everyone deserves a place in the beauty industry, regardless of ethnicity or color.
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