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Malaysian Alien


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Tuesday, November 15, 2005
The Dawning

Slitty eyes. Tan skinned. Flat nose. Chinak face.

These are but a few of the remarks I received as a child. If impressions are made at a young age, I have quite a few impressions of beauty. You see, when I was a child, I was tan. I had small, slitty eyes and a nose bridge so flat, I could be mistaken for a Persian cat.

Imagine going for wedding dinners and nothing good can be said about your facial features? The only one adjective not used to describe me was “fat” because I was neither fat nor thin. I was just average.

Mother was very kind and she comforted me often (in my presence). “Don’t care what they say. What is the most important is that you are smart.” However while I was out of ear shot, she’ll reel at my father for it was often his side of the family that made fun of my physical features. Mother was the one who encouraged me to look beyond my physical beauty and look into my mind and my heart – that beauty could only take me to a certain level. But if I wanted respect from society, I need to use what sits on top of my shoulders: my brain.

However I also possessed the most pragmatic of mothers. After comforting and encouraging me to excel academically, she would add, “In any case, mummy has allocated a portion of money for you to go for plastic surgery. Fix your eyes like Aunty L and fix your nose like my friend, Mrs. T. Both married successful businessmen and are happy.”

So I grew up not only with a study fund. I grew up with a beauty fund too! It was the very thing that will save me from taunting from my aunties and paternal grandmother.

The most ironic thing happened. Everything changed as I grew – from teenage years to my 20s. Somehow my facial features changed as I grew! It is the most ironic thing. Now I have the largest set of eyes in the family, with deep double eyelids and a balanced nose. My jawline slimmed and my forehead just did its thing. Nature took its course and voila! I am no longer fugly.

So now while we sit at reunion and wedding dinners, all the relatives go on and on about how much my features have changed. “Oh my, Otto. You looked different! Remember last time you used to have such a flat nose?” Okay my relatives are still rubbing the old wound but I really do not care anymore.

I literally don’t fucking care about what they thought about me anymore. I knew who I was and it took me some years to realize that I am fine just the way I am. I am still tanned, compared to my fairer Chinese sisters but I am actually very proud of that.

Yesterday while I was at the petrol station filling petrol, the lady boss came over for a chat. She commented that the day was very hot and that I should have worn long sleeves. I replied that it would only make everything feel hotter (especially over my mop of hair).

“Long sleeves to keep the sun away from your skin mah. Fairer,” she said.

“Aunty, I don’t want to be fair. I am happy just the way I am,” I replied.

She then mumbled the compulsory courteous, “Yeah, you look much nicer with tanned skin anyway. Hitam manis.”

It is also ironic that I am giving hope to my close girlfriend. She gave birth to a daughter three years ago and since then, has been having deep conversations with her husband and family, on how the little girl looked. It is the same comment all over again: Flat nose and slitty eyes. She was worried her daughter is fugly and could not be married out later in life.

It goes without saying that in her family home, I become the celebrated comfort factor.

“Wah your daughter has such a flat nose,” Aunty 1 said.

“But Otto had a very flat nose too and look, her nose is fine now,” my gf said.

“But your daughter also got such small slitty eyes, so Chinak!”

“Wah you won’t believe how small Otto’s eyes were! Now her eyes look fine what,” came the swift reply.

The conversation went back and forth, back and forth between the grandparents, the parents and the busybody relatives. They basically condemned my childhood self to death, only to redeem it by saying I don’t look that bad these days. I don’t think it was meant to be a compliment and if it was, it sounded bad.

But back to my gf’s daughter: I told PY that features will change as the child grows up and that my girlfriend need not worry. “So don’t worry dear, Otto last time was so ugly as a child, nowadays look quite pleasant what. So our daugher got hope,” is the sentence that the couple use to comfort each other as their daughter grows up into a healthy and smart 3 year old.

The morale of this ugly duckling childhood story is – our facial features change as we mature. Dawn could have just changed, just like I did. She could have also gone under the surgeon’s scalpel, that I do not deny. My mother had a piggy bank in place for the day I would get my nose and eye jobs done. But those days did not come to pass. Maybe Dawn's mother had a little piggy bank too? Maybe Dawn's day did not come and she decided to take matters into her own hands, quite literally.

So whatever happened to “Otto’s Beautification Fund”? I used my plastic surgery fund for something far more beneficial - to study in London.

I think more people are curious about Dawn’s surgeon (as compared to Dawn). I for one, am! Whoever that doctor is, he deserves a pat on his back for creating such a beautiful creature to walk among us, mere mortals.

Growing up thinking that one day I will became beautiful when a doctor makes me pretty, I am quite adjusted to the idea of plastic surgery. However, unlike Dawn, I won’t have one when I am in my early 20s. Why, you asked.

What else is there to look forward to in my 40s, if all the surgeries are done now?



Dawn is beautiful?

She looks quite freakish really. Definitely does not look beautiful by traditional chinese standards.

Surgeons have made her beautiful by western standards - long straight nose, narrow face, huge round eyes. So now she look like mix-breed (i.e. mix between anime character and human). Don't know how her parents can explain that to friends.

Chinese beauty is much more subtle. Coy almond eyes, rounded dimpled cheeks, pouty lips and a delicate button nose.

8:50 am  

Hello IB! You have an avatar this time around =) Nice to be able to see your eye.

When I first wrote "The Dawning" I described Dawn as a Japanese anime. She does look like a Jap anime and that is a compliment. Her eyes are disproportionate as compared to the rest of her face and her jawline is just jaw dropping.

Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Yes, Dawn (to me) looks freakishly beautiful.

I struggled with the words for "The Dawning" mainly because I did not have the words to describe the nose, eyes, mouth, chin, jaw etc. What is the definition of beauty anyway? Eastern? Western?

I personally think that Asian girls are far prettier than their European counterparts. Chinese beauty is far more delicate, just as you have pointed out.

But I am not fair, so by definition, I do not fit into the typical Chinese beauty mould. I've given up on whitening lotions more than 5 years ago and since then been slapping on good measure of SPF15 daily. Did I say I hate ppl who comment abt my tan skin?

Hoo hum.

12:48 pm  

Good post. :)

With regards to your question on the definition of beauty, sad to say, the trend in Asia seems to be - the more Western you look, the prettier you are.

What people covet nowadays are:

huge pools of eyes that you can drown in - not a very Asian feature, although the Japanese can fight that claim. Japanese are also famous for going for plastic surgery, so maybe, they too are prey to the Western concept.

high nose bridge with a straight nose (like Dawn's) - very prominent Western feature.

thin upper lips and full lower lips - this I can't really tell. Seems like both Asians and Western have their share of sexy lips, although Angelina Jolie seems to be dominating over us mortals.

I mean, look at the vjs on Channel V or MTV. If I'm not mistaken, ALL of them are of mixed-parentage. Beauty magazines feature either Caucasian models or once again, mixed models. I think we are so brainwashed by mass media and Hollywood that all of us seem to accept that beauty is judged by the Western standards. Is it any wonder that Dawn wants to look more Western? After all, she DID land a contract based on her looks, which again, is sending out the message that if you want to be a celebrity, PLEASE PLEASE look like a Pan-Asian.

6:35 pm  

The only adjectives I used for a nose were "sharp" or "flat". Now I know the prefered nose is one that has a high bride...........

I did not notice abt the lips though. I thought Angelina Jolie's lips were the most sought after and there were ones that were full on both upper and lower lips.

Personally I do not see a need to look Pan-Asian - especially if we do not possess a single European blood line at all. It's basically stupid and reflects poorly on one's self-esteem.

Being beautiful is not necessary a blessing all the time. Often time lesser beauties have better and more meaningful relationships than their prettier sisters.

A man might be swarmed over a girl's beauty and knows not (much) of the girl's personality.... and in the end, it's the personality, intelligence, humor and wit that counts. After physical beauty, one should be able to converse and carry oneself well.

Sounds cliche but it is true. I should know. I walked on earth for almost 30 years. HA!

7:15 am  

hmmm... the fair look does not originate from asian longing to look caucasian, but it meant that you didn't have to do hard work in the sun... anyway that's ancient news...

OH! i just saw those dawn photo's myself... AMAZING! hahahaha.. my neighbor went for plastic too, shaved her chin, boob job, nose job... she just doesn't look like the neighbours kid sister I used to know.. but hey, I fully support boob jobs! hahahhaha, just don't mess around too much with the face.. thats what i say..

6:11 am  

I really don't care how Dawn looks. It doesn't affect me in any way. I don't have time for MTV *laughs*

I think everyone is overestimating how much influence Dawn has on young people's lives. I think Utt's good looking but heck, that's all he is to me - good looking. Full stop.

Boob job? Eh makes the girl's breast seem rather unnatural...... esp when they are out during summer, sun tanning in the parks..... wei you can tell who's has what....

7:35 am  

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