I was like eight years old, and then a lady was just like, "You can leave; we don't have your size."
And she was like, "Your nose is too flat."
And so she was like, "You know if you want to have surgery, you can do a nose job."
There would be times when I'm opening gifts on holidays, and I'd be really excited to maybe receive snacks or toys or just gadgets as a little kid, but instead receiving skin-whitening products or double-eyelid tape or little gadgets that you can use to make your double chin go away.
This is maybe not a good action on camera.
As an eight-year-old girl, that's not something you want to be receiving, or let alone, play with.
I remember my grandma would come over around everyday and she would pinch my nose, literally pinch my nose.
And I would be like, "What?"
"What are you doing? Why are you doing this?"
And she was like, "Your nose is too flat. I'm trying to help you get a nose bridge."
I would say for me the main focus has been from my family and friends growing up, it was all around the shape of my eyes and the lack of prominent, thick, double eyelid.
But I remember before going out strategically doing my eye makeup and placing my eyelashes because I kind of wanted to fit in with how everyone else looked.
Skin was also a big thing.
My family is always trying to wear hats.
They bring a lot of umbrellas when we go to the beach.
There's no such thing as being tan in my family.
The visors, right?
Yeah, the visors, the Asian visor.
We call it the Japanese geisha look almost.
It's like pale white.
But the whiter and the paler you are as an Asian-American, it's almost a plus-plus.
As a south Indian, so I'm Tamilian, and it's even bigger of a thing.
I noticed it when I lived in India for the last three years.
There's a phrase that they would use in summer.
They would say, "Karuthu poirke," which means, it literally translates to "Look how black you've become."
I was like, "Really?"
I don't know any different, right, right.
- We have a similar one. - Oh, yeah?
"Umitim ka," which means, "You got darker."
Yeah, and anybody who'd visit me, especially from here, if they weren't seeing me for a long time, my grandmother would say, she'd be like, "Karuthu poirke. You've become so black."
I was like, "(mumbles)."
So, my mom never really laid it on me, but a big one in India is Fair and Lovely.
It is laser light.
(It) gives glowing fairness.
So from now, only fairness like laser light treatment.
The beauty centers for Filipinos are usually mestizo, which is a Filipino that's mixed with European features or specifically Spain because, you know, colonization.
Then the next one is "Chinita" or "Chinito" which is basically Filipinos that have more East Asian features so petite, lighter skin, smaller face.
My mom once asked me if I wanted a nose job.
Oh, my God.
Yeah, it was just I didn't feel attractive growing up.
What was your response to that?
I would love to know.
When she asked you, were you horrified?
Well, to be fair to my mom, there's nothing wrong with plastic surgery.
That was around the time that she was going to have a boob job.
So, she was like, "If you want to have surgery, "you can do a nose job. That can be my gift or whatever."
I was like, "No, it's okay, Mom."
Oh, my god.
In India, there's a big, at least from what I've felt over the last couple of years living there, skinny shaming is a big thing.
The whole idea is if you're too skinny, you won't be looked at as fertile is one thing.
That's a big thing.
And then also it's economic status I think because poverty is so in your face in a lot of areas, it's almost like, "Oh, well, if you're super skinny, you obviously can't afford to live a decent life."
You know what I mean?
One time when I was really, really young, I went to Taiwan and I walked into a clothing store.
I'm going to cry.
I was eight years old, and then a lady was just like, "You can leave; we don't have your size."
I'm an eight-year-old girl.
It's weird because at that time as a little girl, you're just happy and carefree.
And for someone to say something so hurtful like that, it sucks.
I'm still considered large for an Asian person, but in Asian America, I'm totally acceptable in an Asian American community.
And I still feel confident in myself.
I can laugh about it now, but it was really hard because I can't change my appearance.
I know that a lot of people go through what I'm going through.
A lot of these things sort of stay with you as you grow up, and I think now as adults, we sort of own it and we embrace it and we're more confident.
I think it's unrealistic for me to try to be somebody that I'm not.