The overlining trend has been around since the 90's, possibly even earlier, but it hasn't gained the traction we see now until 1) Kylie Jenner, and 2) Kylie Jenner.
Suddenly, everyone wanted big lips once Kylie started posting pictures of her full, plush lips. Lip injections have been steadily increasing since 2015 - but if you don't want to stick needles into your lips, her lip kits allow you to achieve lips just like hers for a low cost of $29!
Never mind that for years, African Americans were stereotyped and shamed because of their lips; African American women were made fun of for wearing lipstick for the size of their lips. It's okay when Kylie flaunts her (artificial) lips, but not when people naturally born with these features embrace theirs?
The same thing happened with East Asian food. Gone are the days of Von's sushi and Panda takeout - white Americans want their exotic food, and they want it authentic. Nevermind that Japanese-American children were ogled at for bringing traditional nigiri for lunch, or that American-born Chinese were alienated because of their food choices. It's okay for white Americans to eat traditional Asian cuisine, but not when actual Asians do so?
These assimilated trends send a message: it's only acceptable here in the U.S. when white people do it.
There's something grating about that, isn't there? When you were made fun of eating sushi, and now sushi is "trending experience"; when your chopsticks were teased for being "too Asian," and now everyone wants to learn to use them; when people thought you were weird for going to Chinese school and Chinatown on weekends, and now they do so on their own time and post it all over Instagram because they're #cultured.
Why is it unacceptable for Asians to eat our traditional foods and embrace our own culture - yet when white people start liking it, it becomes acceptable again?
Like many other second-generation Asians growing up in the U.S., I've witnessed the culture here change drastically in the past decade or so, especially with the advent of social media. Awareness of Asian culture wasn't nearly so prevalent in my childhood; there was a lot more ignorance and many more racist actions/comments back then compared to now.
Being told straight up, "Your food is disgusting."
Overhearing giggles and "ching-ching chong-chong" in a store after speaking Chinese to my sister.
Walking my dog with my mom in middle school when some guys in a passing car threw eggs at us and yelled, "Go back to China!"
And many, many more.
These experiences that were directly tied to my race. With traditional food an inseparable part of my cultural background, of course having it brought up so suddenly makes me defensive. Where was this Asian acceptance when seven-year-old me decided to only use forks after being made fun of for using chopsticks? This awareness when ten-year-old me was confronted with the typical "So you eat dogs at home?"
Luckily, that's changed a lot. Kids are growing up with and accepting what we were once made fun of - that's one less hurdle for them to overcome in the gauntlet of adolescence. Many non-Asian Americans are now aware of the nuances of Asian culture - in fact, many cultures here in the U.S. are so much more knowledgeable about those outside their own (thanks, Internet!). Growing Asian representation in the media means defying harmful stereotypes, and increased access to authentic Asian foods means more awareness - younger generations won't be shamed for the food their parents pack.
No matter what experiences you may have faced, this widespread inclusion of diversity is something to celebrate.
Of course, there remains discrimination against Asians outside of food despite all this awareness. "Yellow fever" is alive and thriving, unfortunately, and the competitiveness of academics have led to school policies many claim are "anti-Asian" (not to mention outright racist campaigns). Quite a few of these "authentic" restaurants are anything but and use that "exotic" label to reap a quick profit while selling a (very Instagrammable) shadow of true "ethnic" food.
Still, food is a great place to start improving. What better way to bring people together than a delicious, hearty meal? Maybe one day, these illegitimate restaurants will delve deeper into the culture behind the food they're selling and make an effort to truly emulate the dishes they once loosely imitated. Maybe one day, an anti-Japanese congressman will have mind-blowing sushi that will change his entire world view on Japanese culture.
We're taking steps in the right direction, and the intentions and progress are what count. So why not take a moment to appreciate the inauthentic (but very delicious) fusion foods that result from the assimilation and merging of different cultures? Korean tacos and ramen burgers weren't made to be shamed on social media.