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.

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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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Dear Soon-To-Be Seniors

These are a few things we'd like to tell you about Senior year.
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Dear soon-to-be high school seniors,

Goodbye. As the class of ahead of you, we've watched you grow, always one step behind us. As we graduate, there are some things I'd like to tell you about your last year of high school.

Yes, Senior year can be just as amazing as everyone says it is, if you make it that way. But don't think it's a blow-off year with no work. This year may hold some of the most stressful times of your life.Be prepared for late nights writing papers or hard tests that could make or break your graduation status. However, don't stress too much about homework. A question I often asked myself this year was, "in twenty years, will I remember staying up till 2am studying for Econ? Or will I remember a fun night with my friends?" Ok, probably not the best advice if you don't have the best of grades, but most of the time you stress yourself out for no reason and miss out on fun things.

Another thing, try to get on the college grind early. If you haven't already, start looking at colleges and applying! Then narrow it down as soon as you can. You don't want to be stressed about that decision in the last month of senior year. Honestly, the sooner you can make your decision, the happier and less stressed you will probably be.

It's not too late to join new things either; a lot of people join a sport or a club senior year and have a lot of fun because of it. So try that thing you've always wanted to join! Speaking of which, go to prom! I won't tell you prom is the best experience of your life because for some people it's not, but it's pretty amazing. Don't stress too much about getting a date, either the right guy/girl will show up, or you'll just go with your friends and still have a blast.

Don't be too rude to the underclassmen. You were that young just a few years ago. And they're the ones who usually put your senior nights together, so make sure you thank them. Also keep in mind that they are looking up to you. Remember those seniors you looked up to just a few short years ago? Be a good example. Take your place in the school as Seniors and continue where we left off; carry on the legacy of your school and be proud of it.

If your school does Kairos (or a similar senior retreat), be absolutely open to it! If it's your thing, enjoy it! If it's not your thing, still try to be open to it. You don't have to love it, but at least don't hate on it before you've even been. Bonding with your class is a big part of senior year. I made so many new friends this year that I never thought I would if it hadn't been for Kairos.

Speaking of which, be open to new friends. Whether they're seniors or not, talk to everyone. In a few months, you may never see those kids again, so it's worth getting to know them past just being friends on Facebook. Also, don't give up on dating people in your class. Yeah, there's only a few months left and you've spent the last 4 years with these people, but there might be one person out there who could change your whole year for the better if you give them the chance.

Above all, enjoy it. You only get one senior year, so make it count. Go to everything you possibly can: every football game, dance, party, musical, bonfire, etc. Enjoy wearing the jersey of your team for the last time, taking your last bow on your high school stage, and turning in your last final, because it will all be gone within the blink of an eye. You'll find yourself walking down the aisle in a cap and gown of those same school colors you thought you despised (but really, you'll secretly miss). You'll look at your favorite teachers lined up behind you and your family sitting in front of you, and most importantly your class around you, and I hope, I really hope, you don't regret a single moment of senior year.

Cover Image Credit: Anna Skog

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College Can Be Difficult, But Trust Yourself, Girl

Life can throw you curveballs sometimes, and times can get tough, but it is SO important to pick yourself up and trust that you can do anything.

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I'll be honest, this school year was one of the hardest years of my life. There were lots of moments throughout the year that I just wanted to go home and get away from it all. I had to be reminded that I have been raised to try as hard as you possibly can, and I was doing that. It took some determination and time, but I didn't give up.

No matter how bad I felt, I stayed and persevered.

Now that I am home for the summer, I have been reminiscing on the past two semesters of school. At the beginning of the school year, I had a much different idea of how it would go. It was going to be "my year," but somehow while the year was going on, I felt that I had been completely wrong. It's easy to come to quick conclusions when life doesn't exactly go your way. Conclusions like "this year has been the worst year ever" and "I can never get a break" were often popping up in my head. My grades weren't where I wanted them, and I was surprised by a lot of occurrences that I never expected to happen (imagine a wild ride). I found out who my true friends are and who I could rely on, and luckily, my circle only grew. Being extremely extroverted, it was hard for me to get out and just do something. Being in this "rut" took a toll on me. I had to make those hard decisions about doing what was best for me in the long run instead of doing something just for the moment. Trust me when I say, this was NOT easy at all.

Through all the tears and change all around me, I decided to proceed to the finish line because I am NOT a quitter.

I decided that it was time for me to allow myself to fully, undeniably be me. I wanted to start doing the little things I enjoy again like working out, taking pictures, and simply just going out to do anything. I started forcing myself to take any opportunity that came my way, and it helped. One of the things that brought me so much joy was kickboxing – talk about therapeutic, people! Kickboxing at least three times a week helped my mood shift so much, and it was a start to seeing me again. I am so blessed with friends who would come over at, literally, any time of the day. Spending time with them helped me more than they could ever know. We did anything from just hanging out in my living room to splurging on a fun dinner. Through everything that I was doing daily, I was learning how to rely on myself. Looking back now, I have never really had to know what it felt like to rely mainly on myself. I did get so much help from my family and friends, but what good could their help do if I didn't want to help myself first?

Even though I felt like this was one of the worst years of my life, it taught me so much more than I ever expected. Looking back now, I grew so, so much. I learned how to smile when times get tough. I learned that it really is okay to not be okay sometimes, and it will be okay eventually. I learned that it's okay to ask for help because we weren't made to do life alone. Most importantly, I learned how to trust myself. My hope for anyone reading this, you will learn from my experience that the worst seasons get better. I am in such a good place right now because I never gave up, and I will continue to never give up. In a short amount of time, I am seeing how far I have come and how much I grew.

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