If You Don't Want To Be Stereotyped, Don't Be The Stereotype

If You Don't Want To Be Stereotyped, Don't Be The Stereotype

Another 'hard to swallow' pill derived from the Subtle Asian Traits Facebook group.


As an Asian American from the Midwest who came to Los Angeles for college, I had a unique viewpoint of going from an area with very little Asian American culture, to an area that was filled to the brim with it. In Southern California, I learned about all that characterized an Asian American, from a love of 'boba' to ABGs, raves, false eyelashes, and exclusion of non-Asians.

Quite recently, a Facebook group called 'Subtle Asian Traits' appeared, and within short weeks, garnered nearly one million members worldwide. Most Asians you ask will know of the group, yet hardly any non-Asians will have known anything about it. This group turned out to be a conglomeration of memes that delved up Asian-American obsessions.

Though the group can be thought of as uniting people of similar backgrounds, it also exposes many race-related issues. For instance, people would glamorize their adhesion to Asian-American stereotypes while trashing people who stereotyped them - in the same breath. By this, I mean people would talk about their obsessions with boba, anime, ABGs, and more (thus adhering strongly to the Asian stereotype), yet have a shared hatred of non-Asians who would then stereotype them. This is a huge issue that keeps racial barriers up and prevents Asian Americans from making any improvements of being more normally thought of in society.

Moreover, so many of the stereotypes that Asians pledge to aren't even because they truly like the item/activity - it's more driven by social acceptance in the Asian community. For instance, boba is a good drink but it's not a holy grail like some Asians treat it as. Likely the main reason that Boba is mentioned thousands of times in the Subtle Asian Traits Facebook group is that everyone appears to like it, and liking boba seems to be what garners attention and mutual interests. Another example is ABGs - Asian Baby Girls - who effortfully attempt to look like the ABG stereotype. This would include certain makeup, tattoos, always wearing false eyelashes, and loving money. There's no way that someone who had never heard of an ABG would decide one day to pick up this personality and look. There's a societal factor that glamorizes ABGs and makes Asian girls want to look more like this kind of person. But, by looking more like this kind of person, they are adhering to a stereotype.

Then, another common part of the Facebook group is to see a non-Asian posting, asking innocently curious questions, and then Asians commenting very exclusive, repelling comments about their 'ignorance' back at them because there was so much as a hint of stereotyping in their question. This itself is another stereotype of Asian Americans - being exclusive towards other races - which they enforce as they make these kinds of comments in the group.

Asians can't make any steps forward in society with groups and comments like these floating around. The Asian community is what I'm the most familiar with, of course, but this same concept applies to all different kinds of ethnicities. There are people all over the place who fall into their ethnic community and do their best to adhere to the most universal traits. It may be the easiest path to take for social acceptance. But at what cost? By a group having these shared likes/activities, it does become the stereotype, and we can't be so sensitive when people outside of the race notice and point it out.

If Asian Americans put as much effort into adhering to American culture, which should not be hard since it's where most of us were born and raised, we would start making more concrete improvements. Other ethnicities would then see more similarities between us and them, and they'd start treating us the way they treat any other person.

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

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