Allison actually grew up in a town in New Jersey not too far from where I attended high school. Unlike me, she attended high school with a lot of other Asian Americans students. However, she couldn’t shake the idea that the Asian community was considered inferior to her non-Asian peers. It led her to feel unable to be completely comfortable around her white friends around whom she felt she needed to “tone down her Asian-ness.” Furthermore, she observed that Asian females were specifically typecast as submissive, weak and reliant on men.
Growing up, Allison was told on several occasions that she was pretty…for an Asian, which insinuated that all Asians were standardly less attractive than non-Asians. By contrast, a 2012 study by Cardiff University on opposite-sex facial attractiveness determined that Asian females were considered the most facially attractive. Are Asian females actually more attractive? If not, why do males prefer Asian females?
Allison was told on several occasions that she was pretty…for an Asian.
According to a January 2018 article in The New York Times, exclusively dating Asian women has been defined as a “white-nationalist rite of passage.” This is partially due to the draw of the subservient, hypersexual Asian woman. The article continues to explain that Asian women have been considered “naturally inclined to serve men sexually and are also thought of as slim, light-skinned and small, in adherence to Western norms of femininity.” Even if not part of the alt-right, it is well-known that many non-Asian men fetishize Asian females for the aforementioned reasons, even if they don’t explicitly admit it. Filmmaker Debbie Lum details the yellow fever phenomenon in her documentary, Seeking Asian Female. She follows a 60-year old white man who begins a relationships with a 30-year old Chinese woman he discovered hrough an online dating website. In describing his ideal woman, he responds, “There’s this Vietnamese movie called The Scent of Green Papaya that has this servant girl who cooks these beautiful meals. Gee, would it be like that?”
In regards to family dynamics, females are sometimes considered less intelligent and less revered than Asian males. Encouraged to study majors such as pharmacy and business, Allison ultimately sought to pursue a more creative field such as Human Computer Interaction (HCI). Despite her efforts to explain HCI’s plethora of career opportunities, it wasn’t until her brother appealed to their parents that they finally believed it was a viable major. Allison believes, “He said the same things I said but because he’s a boy, they thought he was smarter and trusted him more”
“Whenever I saw an Asian girl in a TV show, she would have colored hair to stand out more.”
In the past, Allison has felt conflicted about feeling “not Asian enough for my Asian friends and not white enough for my white friends.” Once a fan of swimming and horseback riding, Allison has been scolded by older relatives for her tan complexion and was encouraged to quit all outdoor sports. In addition to pressure to be slim, light-skinned and small, she felt concerned that Asian females’ beauty was not on par with that of non-Asian females and she became convinced to alter parts of her appearance such as her hair color. She reflects, “Whenever I saw an Asian girl in a TV show, she would have colored hair to stand out more.”
It seems many others have noticed this trend, too. A recent article in Allure analyzes a recent spike on Twitter following a tweet that said “It’s time for western media to drop the idea that Asian girls need neon streaks of color in their hair to stand out.” Examples include Yukio in Deadpool 2 and Tina from Glee, who both donned purple streaks. The tweet has since been retweeted more than 61,000 times and prompted more than 23,000 responses.
Thankfully, this feeling of imbalanced identity has diluted over the years. With increasing push for inclusion and acceptance, Allison has noticed more and more people have embraced Asian culture. For example, K-Pop has become a global phenomenon in the past five to ten years. Asian K-Pop group BTS performed during the last two Billboard Music Awards, at which fans of all races were seen excessively screaming and cheering. She notes, “It would have been nice if K-Pop and other Asian entertainment were more popular when I was younger but I’m glad it is now.”