Asian Identity And The Tyranny Of The Majority
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

Asian Identity And The Tyranny Of The Majority

Who do you see? I see a small bit of diversity.

133
Asian Identity And The Tyranny Of The Majority
Flickr.com

As a freshman coming into college, you discover a lot of new things. You get to grasp on life a bit more, you learn a thing or two within your classes, and sometimes you get to see how people really see you. So, with that in mind, a couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of being insulted with the words, “Mmm… You’re not cute or pretty.” Which, in any other given situation, I would have shrugged off the comment, but you know, those words stuck a little.

You see, as an Asian-American, I’ve never found myself to be particularly attractive. In fact, when I look in the mirror, all I see is an “Asian girl.” Someone with dark hair, dark eyes, and a plain face— I fit the bill for the majority of the “Asian girl” stereotype. But that’s the thing, why is that? Why am I not able to self-compliment myself? Why do I think that I am “plain” in comparison to the rest of society?

I thought about it for a while, and I asked my other Asian-American female friends the same questions. They also thought, “[they] were just Asian.” But what does that even mean?

These questions took some investigating; I asked some of my friends what I honestly looked like to them. To my surprise, their comments were more specific than I would have ever thought myself. One said that I had a kind face, another said that my hair was unique because it was wavy and not pin-straight, and a different friend said that I had a sweet smile. To be honest, I was expecting generic comments such as, “you’re pretty” or “you’re cute” or other quick comments, but to compliment and pinpoint someone’s distinct features is a larger feat than most people would really think. Regardless of the fact that these comments came from people who are my friends, their comments made me wonder more about why I didn't have any confidence in my Asian features.

Now, perhaps this is a self-esteem issue, but when I was younger, I was told constantly that my physical features weren’t the most popular. I was often told off for having “chink eyes,” for “being yellow,” and for being short in general. Which, now that I am older, I have learned to embrace my given features despite the occasional demeaning remark.

But let’s face it here, self-appreciation takes a long time to muster. And who are we to look up to besides our family members and our friends? Media. Mass-media which can accommodate to all sorts of views, but has a particular bias nonetheless.

Just look at your average beauty magazine. Who do you see? I see a model, a singer, an actress, and an A-list socialite. Their hair is blowing in the air, their makeup is flawless, their skin is airbrushed at all angles, and their clothes are perfect. Not a single part of them seems faulty— they are the exemplars of society. Mind you, that’s not always the case with every person featured on a magazine cover. But at least physically, they’re what the rest of us should strive for.

Okay, now let’s look a little bit closer at the variety of magazine cover figures. Who do you see? I see a small bit of diversity— mainly Caucasian and a perhaps Hispanic or African-American figure here and there.

Yet just where are the Asian-American models and celebrities in magazines? There are plenty of talented Asian-American individuals such as Margaret Cho, Mindy Kaling, and Constance Wu (just to name a few) who are beautiful people that are wholly deserving of having exposure on Vogue, Cosmopolitan, or Glamour. And while there are specific magazines such as Kore.am (http://kore.am) or Mochi (http://www.mochimag.com) which discuss Asian-American cultures, why is there no mainstream exposure to the Asian-American community?

And while on the topic of no mainstream exposure, why are Asian characters often white-washed in cinema? Now, I am fully aware that Asians are not the only ones being white-washed by media. However, let’s focus in on Asian white-washing for a moment. In this past year alone, there were controversies over major Asian characters such the Ancient One (Doctor Strange) and Mulan having Caucasian actors. I’m sure that there are probably reasons for the choices, but is it too hard to ask to keep the Asian characters Asian?

From magazines to cinema, Asian representation is eclipsed by Caucasian representation in mass-media. Tell me, how is a growing Asian-American girl supposed to have confidence in her looks if characters or figures of her ethnicity are not present on television or on magazine racks? We underestimate the power of media more than we’d like to acknowledge, but to have a role model that you identify with from a media platform is a bigger part of oneself than you might realize.

If you’re an Asian-American female who is reading this, I will tell you right now that the color of your eyes and your hair are beautiful. That even if you yearn for lighter hair and eyes, you are still wonderful in your own way. Your features are unique to you and your ethnicity— be proud of who you are and have Asian pride. Whether you have dark skin or light skin, wavy hair or straight hair, your features are a part of you and your identity as an Asian. Admire yourself for who you are because you are pretty, gorgeous, and cute— don’t let anyone, especially society, tell you otherwise.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
houses under green sky
Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

Small towns certainly have their pros and cons. Many people who grow up in small towns find themselves counting the days until they get to escape their roots and plant new ones in bigger, "better" places. And that's fine. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't thought those same thoughts before too. We all have, but they say it's important to remember where you came from. When I think about where I come from, I can't help having an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for my roots. Being from a small town has taught me so many important lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Keep Reading...Show less
​a woman sitting at a table having a coffee
nappy.co

I can't say "thank you" enough to express how grateful I am for you coming into my life. You have made such a huge impact on my life. I would not be the person I am today without you and I know that you will keep inspiring me to become an even better version of myself.

Keep Reading...Show less
Student Life

Waitlisted for a College Class? Here's What to Do!

Dealing with the inevitable realities of college life.

86503
college students waiting in a long line in the hallway
StableDiffusion

Course registration at college can be a big hassle and is almost never talked about. Classes you want to take fill up before you get a chance to register. You might change your mind about a class you want to take and must struggle to find another class to fit in the same time period. You also have to make sure no classes clash by time. Like I said, it's a big hassle.

This semester, I was waitlisted for two classes. Most people in this situation, especially first years, freak out because they don't know what to do. Here is what you should do when this happens.

Keep Reading...Show less
a man and a woman sitting on the beach in front of the sunset

Whether you met your new love interest online, through mutual friends, or another way entirely, you'll definitely want to know what you're getting into. I mean, really, what's the point in entering a relationship with someone if you don't know whether or not you're compatible on a very basic level?

Consider these 21 questions to ask in the talking stage when getting to know that new guy or girl you just started talking to:

Keep Reading...Show less
Lifestyle

Challah vs. Easter Bread: A Delicious Dilemma

Is there really such a difference in Challah bread or Easter Bread?

52438
loaves of challah and easter bread stacked up aside each other, an abundance of food in baskets
StableDiffusion

Ever since I could remember, it was a treat to receive Easter Bread made by my grandmother. We would only have it once a year and the wait was excruciating. Now that my grandmother has gotten older, she has stopped baking a lot of her recipes that require a lot of hand usage--her traditional Italian baking means no machines. So for the past few years, I have missed enjoying my Easter Bread.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments