I’m 16 and full Korean. I grew up in all-white schools in California and I remember how I always thought blonde hair and blue eyes were the prettiest and despised my flat, thin black hair and dark brown eyes.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, the korean friends I grew up with praised the “ideal korean look” that kpop celebrities held. Double eyelids, a long, narrow ski slope nose, pale milky white skin, twig legs and arms, a V-lined jaw, and a thin waist. We were then exposed to something called plastic surgery at the age of 12 or so. Even after we knew how these celebrities looked so perfect, we still longed to fit that image, surgery or not.
That image, is being spread and idealized as what Koreans are supposed to be by non-koreans, and it makes me sick. “What? You’re not (every other east asian race)? You don’t look korean at all. I’ve seen kpop music videos.”
not all koreans look the same. And most definitely NOT ALL ASIANS LOOK THE SAME.
Growing up was definitely a little bit confusing for me - all the family I’ve ever known has been Chinese, and I was extremely lucky to have gone to a school where the majority of the population was of Asian descent. However, despite feeling like I fit in like everyone else, I was constantly singled out for looking “other.” I’ve been fielding questions about my ethnicity since childhood, from strangers to teachers to peers. I’ve been told that “I don’t count” because I’m not fully Asian. Passing for white has been a constant source of anxiety in my life - if I go into 99 Ranch Market by myself, will the cashier talk to me in English or Mandarin? Is that (totally gross) man trying to chat me up on the street going to say “ni hao” or ask me if I’m from China? If I pass by a group of other Asian students, are they going to recognize me or categorize me as other? Is anyone going to think twice if I speak Mandarin on the phone with my mom? If I grew up completely culturally Taiwanese-American but (sometimes) get white privilege when I’m walking down the street, where do I belong?? My Mandarin isn’t even that good and I can’t cook any of the foods on which my grandmother raised my mother and her siblings and the only time I’ve been to Taiwan was when I was a toddler. I feel so lonely sometimes, unable to really claim Taiwan for my own, but unwilling to throw in my lot with Americans who still see me as other and don’t understand what it was like to grow up as a first-generation child.
But you know what helps the loneliness? Blogs like this. Communities of fabulous Asian women, mixed background or not, coming together to celebrate us and fight to be seen as the strong ass women of color we are.
There were some white people looking at me weird on the subway and I’m pretty sure it was cause my lipstick threw them off. I texted my friend saying, “I think I’m scaring the white people.” Her reply? “Slay the white people.”