Prologue: I’m really ill-equipped to get up on a soapbox here and tackle issues like body image and beauty and white people fucking things up, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you are in the wrooong place – we should agree now that this is a blog of the humorous variety. I’ve never been a very good activist, even with my shady liberal arts past. (I may have attended a rally or something once… I don’t know; I drank a lot in college.) Let’s just say that I’m white and female by accident, educated-ish, and contain the perfect storm of laziness & over confidence that can only result in complete disinterest in my own appearance and a (bad) habit of belittling people who give a shit about theirs. I have attempted to be sensitive here, but please, everyone, have your grains of salt at the ready.
“You have small face. I envy your small face.”
I could tell it was a compliment, what my coteacher said to me after class one afternoon, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out exactly what it meant. Small face? In comparison to … the size of my head? Is my face just scrunched and centered on the huge landscape of my head?!
Jesus, that can’t be right, that sounds bad. So… Maybe my entire head is small and then so is my face? Like this?
I was pretty certain a “lost in translation” moment had just occurred, so I went straight to the most credible source I knew on misunderstandings in Korea: Megan.
Megan: Your face isn’t that small.
Erin: I think my feelings might be hurt, but I can’t be sure.
Megan: Does your coteacher have a big face?
Erin: Not cool, man. I don’t judge people by the size of their face. I saw that movie Mask when I was a kid.
Erin: Totally shaped my moral code, dude. I don’t even see face size.
When Megan couldn’t help me, I turned to the internet. Come to find out, this “small face” thing is a Korean/Japanese/pan-Asian? lady craze. Now, I’ve seen some dubious beauty paraphernalia since I moved here – mostly related to eyelid surgeries, whitening creams and assorted eyelash goos; but this was special:
Small Face is a good thing here. So good and so desirable one could purchase a girdle to wear on one’s head to squeeze it into a more pleasing oval shape if one were so inclined. But it doesn’t stop there. There are things like this. And this. And, in case you were doubting the seriousness of this fascination, let us not forget that surgery is frequently the solution here – shave those cheekbones off ladies.
Do yourself a favor and Google this business. It’s something I never would have considered a pre req for being cute, anywhere in the world. And now I feel guilty. Guilty that in the Life Lottery, I ended up a squat, pale, short descendent of northern Europeans with tiny faces. In other words, I’m a total fox.