Thursday, June 25, 2015

Body Acceptance series - Eyes

 "Men seldom make passes
At girls who wear glasses." - "News Item" by Dorothy Parker
Recently I did a photoshoot with Musico Roots for her Esteemed project.  It made me confront my struggles with body positivity and gave me motivation to finally get around this series—called "Body Acceptance" because I believe we don't have to be positive about every part of our body, but we need to find some level of acceptance (modification included).  I've been wanting to write a post about being a severely myopic performer as well so I decided to start with my eyes and talk about both their appearance and their function.

Like many Asian-Americans, I grew up with kids making fun of me for my eyes.  If that wasn't enough of a blow to my self-esteem, my own family often commented on how I "would be so beautiful if it weren't for [my] small eyes" or how I should get double eyelid surgery when I got older.  Even now people think I’m sad, tired, or angry when my face is at neutral.

From Buzzfeed's
"25 Beauty Struggles Asian Girls Go Through"
Ami-rian / Getty Images / Cathy Ngo / BuzzFeed
I've never desired double eyelid surgery, but sometimes I wonder if it would make life easier.  On top of having small eyes and monolids, my eyes are droopy and my eyelashes slant downward.  This makes wearing contacts, mascara, and false eyelashes a perpetual struggle.  I've tried every trick in the book with falsies and curlers, but gravity wins in the end.  Buzzfeed hit the nail on the head with all my eye make-up struggles.  If surgery could get rid of some of these and spare me the agony of having an eyelash or three frequently in my eye, I would be thrilled.  At the same time, I doubt it would actually get rid of my insecurities.  I'd be better off going under the knife for vision problems.

That brings me to the source of my biggest performance nightmare: my rigid gas permeable contact lenses.  Before every show, I freak out about the possibility of getting glitter, an eyelash, or a speck of dust into my eye and causing excruciating pain and lots of tears.  RGP lenses are an updated form of hard contacts, which means I can constantly feel their presence (one can get acclimated to them, but my eyes don't like wearing them every day).  A tiny thread on them feels like being poked in the eyeball.  I've had a couple of close calls and one incident while kittening.  It makes me feel bad that I end up being this liability to producers and stage managers.

So why do I bother?  Well, I can only see clearly about 4.5 inches from my face.  Everything else is a collection of blurry blobs.  I'd rather not risk taking a tumble off the stage; plus, unfocused eyes make me look high.  My small eyes and monolids keep me from being able to insert soft contacts, and my vision is still changing so LASIK will have to wait. 

I laugh at irony of contacts being preferred because glasses obscure my face and reflect light, yet having RGP contacts limit my expressiveness due to the fact that the lenses actually shift around my eyeballs.  I make do with what I have by working to be a better actress and sometimes drawing in that double eyelid.  I also get my bit of critique in with my "Black Glasses" act.  The ending is a reminder that glasses in real life are not accessories that enhance or conceal a person's attractiveness.  They're a necessity for near- and far-sighted individuals to live a normal life.

Photo by Dolly Cosplay
I want to end with a note of acceptance.  Initially I struggled to come up with something positive to say because my eyes have been my least favorite trait since childhood.  A few years ago, however, I discovered the character, Kyoya Hibari from Katekyo Hitman Reborn! Not only is he a badass with a serious demeanor that I identify with, but he also had narrow eyes (that don't look closed like Brock from Pokemon).  Cosplaying him made me appreciate the eyes I have, and I'm excited about another future cosplay for the same reason.  This is partly why my aesthetic has shifted toward the masculine since big eyes and long lashes are often associated with femininity. 

My droopy eyes have also forced me to master the cat eye.  It's the one aspect of make-up that I can do well, and obviously it has been very useful in burlesque.

On a final note, you can come see my cat eye (and my "Black Glasses" act) tonight in Denton for Glitterbomb:

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Upcoming show: Fuego Noche Tropicana

No BHoF for me this year, but I am going on vacation. I'll leave you with an announcement of a show I'll be in on June 18.  Fuego Danza Company and No Mija Productions Presents: Fuego Noche Tropicana.  

It's a night of Latin-themed performances ranging from burlesque to belly dance, salsa to samba.  The show will run from 9 to 11 PM.  Click here to purchase tickets.