Cultural Representation Is Important
Politics and Activism

Cultural Representation Is Important

Here's to my stinky lunches, 3 New Years, and being a year older on the other side of the world.


When I was younger, my very Thai mom used to send me off to school with a very ethnic lunch. It wasn’t the school’s Mexican pizza or a homemade peanut butter and jelly sandwich every elementary schooler had growing up; It was jasmine rice, fried eggs, and scrambled basil stir-fry (Pa Ka Pao).

I became an easy target and kids were cruel. They made fun of me because my lunch didn’t look like theirs.

They would tell me it smelled and the look of it made them want to vomit. I’ll never forget going home, crying to my mom, and begging her to let me buy Lunchables simply just to avoid the comments and the hell that awaited me every day during lunch. Even though their comments were nothing more than just comments, kindergarten I was hurt and lost myself a little that day. I mean, I was just being me? Yet, I was outcasted for it.

For a while, I’d try to understand it but it simply came down to this: representation. Growing up, the only hero or role model I had was Mulan. Now don’t get me wrong, I loved Mulan. She looked just like me, saved China, and proved women can do anything a man could do, and better. But the lack of Asian-American portrayals in media at the time that wasn’t stereotypical or represented poorly seemed like a small percentage.

Not to mention the roles that were white-washed as well.

With that being said, to presently see a show like “Fresh Off The Boat” on t.v. warms my heart and genuinely makes me happy to see a show that I resonate with on a personal level and the progress we have made. During the first episode, the main character, Eddie, gets invited to sit at the lunch tables with what appears to be are the cool kids. They’re treating him as if they were one of them until Eddie opens his lunch.

The kids then point out the potent smell and tell him to leave the table immediately all while making fun of him. He then goes home and asks his mother if they can go out and get Lunchables. To think, someone out there went through the same struggles as me growing up was comforting. There was actually a show out there that was completely relatable while growing up as an Asian-American family.

The fact of the matter––representation matters. The importance of having a role model, not exclusively Asian-American, but of all different kinds of backgrounds is important to showcase for kids. To have someone who looks like you, understand your struggles, and representing that in a positive light is crucial.

To have cultural socialization promotes one’s culture and ethnic pride. Looking back, I was dumb to care about what other people thought about me and my heritage; I was a kid who was being picked on for simply being me and I decided to assimilate with what everyone else was doing. I realize now that they were just ignorant and I'm proud of my stinky lunches.

It's refreshing to see a new era that's beginning to showcase films, t.v. shows, etc. with different backgrounds, cultures, disabilities, or whatever it may be like never before. We're finally taking that opportunity to create these conversations; To learn, understand, and accept people for who they are.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

These 11 Face Masks On Etsy Support Small Businesses While Fighting The Spread Of Coronavirus

We're staying safe as states start lifting lockdown guidelines.

I, like most people who have had the luxury of being able to stay at home during this time, haven't spent much time outdoors at all. But when I do brave the great outdoors for a walk or to get to the grocery store, you won't find me without a mask.

My family and I were lucky enough to have family friends who were sewing some and had extras to give to us, but most of my friends and loved ones outside my immediate family have had to order some (or make a makeshift one out of scarves or bandanas).

Keep Reading... Show less

13 Reasons We're Using Quarantine As The Ultimate Excuse For Online Shopping This Month

The one thing we haven't distanced from is our bank account.

Throughout quarantine, I've been FaceTiming most of my friends in a full turtleneck or the go-to cozy sweater I keep wrapped around the chair in my room. Either way, I always have tea in my hands to keep myself warm — till this past week.

For most of the country who hasn't had the luck of quarantining in 90-degree weather on their family's lake house or with a backyard pool, things began to change this month. Our favorite shows came out with summer seasons, the sun came out, and we started spending more time outside.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Sat Down (Virtually) With Morgan Wooten To Talk About Coronavirus's Impact On The Wellness Industry

Just because coronavirus has greatly impacted the wellness industry doesn't mean wellness stops.

Morgan Wooten

If you're anything like me, your weekly fitness classes are a huge part of your routine. They keep me fit, healthy, and sane. Honestly, these classes help my mental health stay in tip-top shape just as much as they help my physical health.

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, gyms and fitness studios are facing temporary closure. Yes, this means my personal routine is thrown a curveball, but this also means the wellness industry is one of many that is looking at unemployment and hardship. Do I miss my Monday spin class? Of course. But do the wellness professionals whose worlds were flipped upside down have a lot more to overcome than a slight change of routine? Absolutely. Thankfully, if anyone can prove the ultimate flexibility, it's the wellness industry.

Keep Reading... Show less

If you are a normal person who spends most of their time streaming TV shows, you'll know that "Friends" was taken off Netflix early in 2020. Given that a global pandemic followed shortly after, many diehard fans of the show stuck in quarantine have been experiencing significant Central Perk withdrawal.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

How To Interview A Class Of 2020 Graduate

What they've been through is truly unprecedented.


No matter how you want to spin it, the Class of 2020 will be the first class graduating amidst a global pandemic.

Keep Reading... Show less

By now, it is safe to declare "Outer Banks" on Netflix as THE TV Show of quarantine.

"Tiger King" got out to an early lead, but since, the Pogues and the Kooks have owned pop culture conversations while everyone has been couped up this spring amidst a global pandemic. And if you are one of the very few people out there in the world that has not heard about "Outer Banks" and or haven't binged it yet, well...

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Spoke To A California ER Doctor About COVID-19, And Y'all, Our Healthcare Workers Know What's Up

In light of what's going on in the world, it's time to get some front-line perspective.

It seems like the only thing I do these days is scroll through social media in a desperate attempt to gain information. My phone has called me out on my screen time more than once, and I just continue to ignore it. You're probably in the same boat — stuck at home, scrolling deeper and deeper into a hole of conspiracy theories and possible "back to normalcy" dates, hungry for information.

While we know that the news is not our mental health's friend these days, getting reliable information is helpful and necessary.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments