Super Scary, Stereotypical Costumes

Halloween is arguably one of the most fun holidays. You can dress up like a banana, a zombie cheerleader, or even a cat. However, a certain kind of costume that is not acceptable, comes around every year. Those costumes fall into a small category: when people adopt the aspects and features of another race or culture as a costume, a joke. Some examples of this are blackface and yellowface where people will literally paint a color onto their skin to make them look like a different race. Halloween is not the proper place to display your racial microaggressions. You may not even be aware of them, most people aren’t. Microaggressions are when you say a racial slur or dress up as another race to make fun of them. Actions like these showcase how unaware our society is to the amount of cultural appropriation we experience on a daily basis. Some may take this as it not being okay to dress up as their favorite movie character of a different race, but that is not the case. Little kids can dress up as Mulan, Pocahontas, and Tiana, because they are doing it out of admiration, not disrespect. It is hard to identify when a costume goes from okay to bad. If you think someone will be offended by your costume then odds are it isn’t appropriate.

STARS Poster Campagian 2012
Photo Credit: http://www.ohio.edu/orgs.stars/Poster_Campaign.html

In 2012, a group of students at Ohio State University, known as STARS (Students Teaching About Racism in Society), made a series of posters to showcase this problematic Halloween trend. It is a series of six posters each picturing an offensive costume representing a racial stereotype, an actual person representing that racial group, and the same line: “You wear the costume for one night, I wear the stigma for life.”

And this is so true. Coming from a place of privilege, I don’t understand the type of oppression people of color receive on a daily basis; neither do any of the people who dress up as stereotypes of a culture. If you dress up as a racial stereotype, then you most likely don’t know anything about that particular culture’s daily oppression. People who don blackface or dress up as a nerdy Asian never have to live in the skin of people of color. They don’t have to wake up knowing they’ll be judged for the amount of pigment in their skin. Most people dress up as stereotypical racial figures to make fun, not knowing anything about what it’s actually like to be who they’re dressed up as. On November 1st, you can wake up in your safety bubble of skin and go on with life, but the group of people you made fun of the night before will continue to wear the skin and/or identity that you appropriated as a costume.

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“Beautiful”

While it may sound vain, despite being relatively confident, comfortable, and even sometimes feeling rather pretty, I don’t think I’ve ever felt fully represented as “beautiful”. It frustrates me that so much of my already fragile confidence could be tied to media, movies and t.v shows but it kind of is.

Part of me feels like the culture I grew up in does not believe me to be “beautiful”. I’m not western enough, in fact in personal experience when I see an East Asian in a show or movie, while my heart does glow, they are usually mixed race or distinctly more western looking than I or many other East Asians look, so in a way I guess I’m used to feeling sidelined for a more western standard. Which is probably why I’ve never felt that en masse the American.

I often wonder: have I have been conditioned from childhood to see myself as too East Asian to be considered en masse “beautiful”? I have this fear that there will always be that “for an Asian” tacked onto compliments about my appearance or just the “oh she’s Asian” exclamation. I’m not sure when this would/has befall/en me but it’s still become a very real insecurity.

Photo Credit: Martin Taylor Home Page

The older I’ve gotten the more I seem to notice that I’m not sure where I fit, there’s always a twinge when someone asks if I’m an exchange student or to translate something for them, that’s in Korean *cringe*, but hey perhaps understandable transgressions, but still, really?

I don’t see myself reflected back when I see “beautiful” people on the t.v or in books or in American pop culture. When people make lists East Asian are woefully lacking, the part of me that is fed off of pure media is constantly being told that people who look like me aren’t really that beautiful.

I’ve talked about white washing before, but this year I was hit with a whole new wave with the twitter #expressiveasians.

An unnamed casting director is cited in Nancy Wang Yuen’s book Reel Inequality: Hollywood Actors and Racism, as having said, “Asians are a challenge to cast because most casting directors feel as though they’re not very expressive.” As much as this statement kind of makes me want to laugh, because who even says sh*t like this? The more I sat and thought about it the more it shocked and … hurt.

Photo Credit: Twitter

I’ve always been slightly insecure about my smile, how small my eyes get when I laugh, I mean just my face in general, but this comment, despite the amazing retaliation from many proud Asians on the internet, just hit hard and not even where it was necessarily directed.

It hit me in a way that I can only liken to feeling like taking a photo with friends looking at it and going, “Oh god why do I look different, why do they all look good while I look so ugly?” It’s just the feeling of being the odd one out, in the case of Expressive Asians it’s being the perpetually non-expressive race.

It’s a kind of reminder that says even if you feel the same you definitely don’t look like it!

While I am in fact Chinese-American I’m not mixed race, I am full blooded Chinese, but I’ve grown up in America with Caucasian parents, in relative white privilege, so I’ve always been stuck between two worlds. I think and act like an American but I realize that people don’t see me as American until I open my mouth and even then sometimes they don’t. It leaves me to wonder about how I feel about myself, how does America as a culture feel about me?

Is it too much for me to want to see myself reflected back from the screen without the aid of cartooning? Is it too much for me to see someone like me be considered “beautiful” in American pop culture?

 

The Vow

This Saturday, I went off campus with some friends to go shopping, have dinner, and see the new movie The Vow.
I have been SO excited for this movie ever since I saw the first trailer in theaters.
First of all, the actors in it are some of my favorite. Channing Tatum is a god, and I have loved Rachel McAdams ever since the Notebook. The story also sounded so extremely cute, and I expected it to be the cutest new love story that everyone was talking about.

But to be honest, I was not impressed. I could be because I built it up so much in my head that my expectations were much too high. I was actually a little upset, especially at the end. The ending truly ruined it. I was hoping for a total cliché and cheesy romantic ending. Even if it would have been a predictable one, I wanted a real love story, and it ends leaving you wondering, and not in one of those good ways.

The story had so much potential, and I really don’t think that the movie makers took full advantage of what they had to work with. Maybe they didn’t want just another predictable, perfect Hollywood romance.

It was not terrible by any means, but it wasn’t great. I’m a bit disappointed.

Unlovely

Love•ly |ˈləvlē| adjective ( -lier -liest ): exquisitely beautiful

Un•love•ly |ˌənˈləvlē| adjective: not attractive; ugly.

Beauty. Allure. Charm. Elegance.

What makes a woman lovely?

Rather, what does society deem beautiful?

What do you think of when you hear the word pretty?

Lisa Noel Ruocco -Model

Long legs.  Glossy hair.  Full lips.  White teeth.  Smooth skin.  Big eyes.  Curling lashes.  Tiny waist. Delicate collarbone.  Flat stomach.  Curving hips.  Toned arms.

What’s one thing they’re looking for? Maybe you don’t think of those things.  But Hollywood does, modeling agencies do.

Skinny, slender, slim, thin, svelte, lean, willowy, slight, lanky girls.

Grace Park: Hawaii Five-0 -Actress

Anyone heard of Tumblr?  It’s pretty much a photo  blog with captions for each picture.  Lately there has been a weight-loss blog craze.

People (mostly females) post pictures of skinny girls and talk about how much they want to slim down.  It’s obsessive and even scary.

“I didn’t eat for three days so I could be lovely,” said Cassie, a character from the British television show Skins

I don’t watch the show, but I stumbled upon that clip and went WHHHAAAATTTT??????

People are listening to this?

I saw this picture the other day:

Oh my Ross Turner… That is SO WRONG!

Exercise is good.  Maintaining a healthy weight is good.  Trying to look your best is good.  But that?

THAT is NOT good.

In fact, that’s bad.  Very bad.

Weight-loss blogs.  Media figures promoting eating disorders and exhibiting symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder. “Thinspirational” pictures.

All these entities are furthering this perversion of beauty.

Speaking of which, how much do you know about photo editing?

Not that much?  Maybe this will give you an incentive to think twice about the hottie you met online:

Freaky huh?

I’m not saying that trying to be skinny is bad and I’m not trying to trash make up and photo editing.

I just think that there is a line between the lovely and unlovely sides of beauty and crossing that line could be very bad indeed.