Last semester, I took a course on Asian American history and racial stereotypes. One stereotype we learned about was that Asian women are the most desired on dating apps because we are deemed submissive and exotic. I was aware of this, but wasn’t quite sure where the idea originally came from until my professor proceeded to inform the class of exactly what I wanted to know:
“Asian women were introduced to the United States during times of war. They immigrated from their homelands, following their military husbands during and after a war.”
Basically, Asian women were spoils of war. A maiden was more like a small, exotic trinket from overseas that can be brought home. There is nothing we can do to go back in time to change ideas that were formed decades ago. But ideas morphed and persisting as stereotypes in the 21st century are absolutely unacceptable.
Dear men, if you think I will be a cute, gentle, shy girl who will follow you around and fill all your fetish desires, please don’t be confused if you feel a punch in the face placed there by my small, delicate fist.
Stereotypes can have consequences that are more serious than you realize. Take a look at some common stereotypes: All Asians are good at math, or all African Americans are athletic. Studies have shown that the psychological pressure to meet the standards that these stereotypes expect people to meet affects the way people think and act, and not in a positive way. Likewise, the same can be said about the expectations that Asian women are submissive and cute; some of these women feel the need to conform to into that facet. The result is a loss of confidence and self-worth.
Dear sisters, I need you to know that you must not succumb to these stereotypes. You must not become victims of social fetishization. “Yellow fever,” a term used to describe a fetish for Asian women, is more common amongst people than you think. I need you to know that you are more than your looks, that if someone is complimenting your exoticism rather than falling for your personality, you may want to be a little cautious. Sisters, I want you to know that you don’t need to change who you are for someone to like you. You want someone to like you for who you are.
If you catch yourself trying to change your ways just to feel more desirable, I know what you’re going through. I started wearing contact lenses in the eighth grade because I was told I looked prettier without glasses. I threw away my favorite baggy shirts and jeans for tight fitting ones because my boobs and butt looked cute and perky in them. It took me years to figure out that my looks were being controlled by someone else. No, they were in the hands of social conformity and pressure to be the “ideal Asian girlfriend material.”
This revelation changed me. Never again shall I wear hot pants and a v-neck unless I want to. I’m back to wearing my beloved oversized hoodies on a daily basis, even when I go out to the city to hang out with friends. I recently switched my usually soft, pink-brown eyeshadow to try grey and purple. I even bought a vivid burgundy lip tint to replace candy pink gloss –bold, darker colors that girls typically don’t use back home.
And I feel amazing to be in my own skin, looking the way I want to look. I’m not gonna lie, I feel less self-conscious and I feel way more attractive now too (talk about self-confidence).
I want you to focus more on looking at yourself from the inside. Because you are beautiful the way you are right now, and no stereotype should be able to categorize you to be something you’re not. You are an intelligent, confident in body and mind, self-standing woman and it only takes one person to realize that for the rest of the world to see it (you!).
Remember sisters, love yourself, and you will earn respect from others, and more importantly, from yourself.