I stared into the mirror with frustration growing inside of me. I had been trying to apply liquid, winged eyeliner for the last twenty minutes. Nothing was working. I had applied, wiped off, and re-applied too many times now.
Tears were starting to form. No. I could not cry. That would ruin the rest of the makeup.
I was never taught how to apply makeup to my Asian eyes. I was raised by a white family. It wasn’t that they refused to teach me how. It was that, at the time, no one really knew that beauty techniques were different.
My friends didn’t understand that when they’d apply color to my lid, it would disappear as soon as I opened my eyes. I tried about thirty different mascaras (no exaggeration), and almost all of them smudged onto my skin and couldn’t hold a curl.
Some time has passed since those days. I’ve had enough experience to figure out what works for me and what products I need to invest in. No shocker, I’ve been sticking to Asian beauty brands because the formulas work best for my Asian face.
YouTube tutorials were my saviors. From the thousands of vloggers, I could watch different techniques and figure out what would work best on my eyes.
No one in the transracial adoption community informed my family about the ‘smaller’ things they’d need to consider. No one told them that when I started wearing makeup, the products for fair-skinned, blonde women would not work for me. Maybe no one in the adoption community thought about it. They are now. Plenty of us are speaking up.
No, you don’t need makeup to be beautiful. It took me a while to learn that. But I did need it to fit in and feel comfortable. It was embarrassing when my friends would look in confusion at my eyes and try to figure out how to apply liner on me. I felt like something was wrong with me… like I was a defective girl. I’m not. I just needed the right products and the right techniques.
A lot goes into self care and beauty. Those things are often overlooked in transracial adoption. In a world where I was the other in all places including my home, I wish I had the tools and techniques to really own my identity and beauty.
And I wish I had the confidence to firmly tell people to stop touching my hair.