“Diversity in beauty” — bit by bit, I feel like the meaning of these words is starting to be accepted by society, albeit rather slowly. I, too, am trying my best to free myself of the “beauty standards” that were planted in my mind from a very young age.
Janice Mirikitani is a Japanese American poet and activist. While it has become more common to see people pushing for diversity in beauty nowadays, Janice has been questioning beauty standards decades before most of us were even born and addressing her unease with them through poetry.
I would like to share one of her poems, “Recipe,” in this article.
Ingredients: scissors, Scotch magic transparent tape,
eyeliner - water-based, black.
Optional: false eyelashes.
Cleanse face thoroughly.
For best results, powder entire face, including eyelids.
(lighter shades suited to total effect desired)
With scissors, cut magic tape 1/16” wide, 3/4”-1/2” long -
depending on length of eyelid.
Stick firmly onto mid-upper eyelid area
(looking down into hand mirror facilities finding
If using false eyelashes, affix first on lid, folding any
excess lid over the base of eyelash with glue.
Paint black eyeliner on tape and entire lid.
Do not cry.
Born and raised in the United States as a Japanese American, the poem portrays Mirikitani becoming insecure about her eyes—a part of her identity—over time, as they do not fit the Western mold of beauty. It also depicts the futility of trying to adhere to beauty standards even if it means erasing your own identity, yet being unable to stop yourself from doing so. I feel like the poem’s final line, “do not cry,” fully conveys her sadness and anguish.
“Large eyes” have been considered ideal not only in the West but also in Japan for a long time.
By the time I entered junior high school, my friends were using double eyelid tape and Band-Aids to try and create creases in their eyelids. Most of the makeup tutorials I saw showed ways to make your eyes look bigger. Up until recently, I never stopped to question these norms.
However, now that I think about it, while diversity in skin color and body size has started to become normalized, I don’t think I have read that many articles celebrating differences in eye shapes.
The great thing about makeup is that it can give you confidence about your appearance or help you love yourself. I, myself, like to use eyeliner and apply tons of mascara when I am going out. Just because you do your makeup like the poem above does not necessarily mean you are not proud of your identity, and you don’t need to feel guilty about it. Still, I would like to genuinely love the way I look in the mirror after I have come home and removed all my makeup.
I want you to know is that both you and I are perfect, just the way we are.
Recipe by Janice Mirikitani
Edited by Emiru Okada
Translated by Yuko C. Shimomoto
Graphic by Ayumi White