Eyes that Kiss in the Corners | Book Corner
A New York Times Bestseller, Eyes that Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho is a wonderful celebration of diversity. Exploring the rich history of her culture, Ho’s heroine highlights the beauty of her features and their differences to others. She proudly observes the similarities of her ‘eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea’ to those of her mother, her sister and her Amah.
Serving to both educate and inspire, this book is a triumph of acknowledging diversity and celebrating the beauty within it. We are fortunate to have been able to discuss the story with the author herself and discover what the publication of Eyes that Kiss in the Corners means to her.
Please could you start by telling us why the message behind story is so important to you and what you are hoping to achieve with the book?
I, like many Asian children around the world, grew up wishing for bigger eyes and longer eyelashes. For too many years, I wanted to fit standards of beauty that did not reflect me, my family, or my culture. I didn’t realize that wishing for different eyes was also a rejection of so much more: my family, my history, my culture. My outlook began to change one evening while I stood in line at a convenience store in Taiwan. I flipped through the pages of a magazine and was amazed at all the beautiful people on its pages – people who looked like me and had eyes like mine. In that moment, I began to realize that I could be – that I was – beautiful too.
For those of us who are marginalized and made invisible by dominant definitions of beauty (and who isn’t?), learning to recognize our own beauty requires confronting, disrupting and changing beliefs that have been ingrained in our cores. It requires loving and lifting ourselves and others.
Learning to recognize our own beauty is an act of revolution. I hope that Eyes that Kiss in the Corners helps to build a world in which all children recognize their own beauty. I hope it inspires revolution.
Your book has appeared on the highly acclaimed The New York Times Best Seller list, congratulations. How do you feel this has contributed to your outreach?
I am incredibly grateful to everyone who has read, shared, gifted, supported Eyes that Kiss in the Corners. In the wake of the mass murder of Asian women in Atlanta, it has appeared on the list again. It's bittersweet to be back on this list again because of such unnecessary and preventable tragedy, but my hope is that this story might bring a little light to someone who needs it. Hopefully by appearing on the list, it might find its way to broader audiences and can increase awareness, disrupt anti-Asian racism, and empower change.
What steps do you feel that parents and children can take to increase awareness of diversity and promote inclusivity?
Parents should be intentional about the books and media they bring into their childrens' lives. They need to have direct and specific conversations about race, racism, and other challenging, nuanced topics. We can't just teach our kids to "appreciate differences" or be satisfied with "building empathy" or "being kind". These things are important characteristics for all humans to nurture, but just keeping our discussions to these feel-good topics won't provide our kids with critical tools to navigate or change inequitable systems. Without these tools, young people will internalize harmful messages in silence because they won't know how to talk about their experiences; they won't even know it's okay or important to have these critical conversations. Just by opening the doors to dialogue, we already empower young people to process the world more critically, and thus, safely.
All images by @joannahowrites
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