“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?

 

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What Would You Do?

“What Would You Do” – It’s my favorite American TV show.

The show is about exactly what its name states.

It sets up very dramatic situations, involves ordinary people in them, and watches their reactions to the dilemmas given, with the hidden cameras rolling.

It usually deals with serious social issues, and a lot of its episodes have unexpected touching results, in which people step up and take action without hesitation in order to do the right thing.

However, in this particular episode, the result surprised me in a quite different way.

It takes place at a family restaurant in Utah, where African-Americans take up only 0.05% of its population.

In this scenario, a white girl introduces her black boyfriend to her father. Unlike what she expects, the father rejects her boyfriend because of his race.

Photo Credit: http://www.worldstarhiphop.com/videos/video.php?v=wshhXRzRC5V9z2W581wF

As she rushes out of the restaurant with her boyfriend, an old lady sitting next to his table talks to the father. “I am with you,” She says. “I think they should stay with their own.”

A woman behind her, nodding in agreement, is brought to tears.

“I have a daughter,” She tells her story in a shaky voice. “She has a friend that’s black… I told her, “He’s fine to be your friend, you are never going to get involved with him…” They were just friends, but… I worried about that.”

Then, the old lady adds her racist comment: “A pretty girl like her would pick something like that.”

Photo Credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UuEegi4Ojo

Trying not to get emotional about her cutting comments, dying inside, the actor keeps the conversation going, asking if he is wrong.

“I was very proud of you,” The old lady responds. “Because that’s a shock to anybody.”

When the reporter of the show, John Quiñones, shows up in the restaurant, explains her about the show, and interviews her, the old lady tells us about her strong belief.

“I’m sorry,” She says. “If you are white, you are white. If you are colored, you go with colored people. And keep it in your family. Don’t put it in somebody else’s.”

She ends her comments with another incomprehensible statement: “It’s alright if you are a Mexican person, they are still white people,” She explains. “But black people and white people, no. I’m sorry, it breaks my heart.”

Finally, Quiñones introduces the man who acted a black boyfriend to the old lady. As they shake their hands, the guy asks her for a hug.

To my surprise, as she gives him a hug, she says, “You know, but I just think we should stay with our own, don’t you?”

This Episode shocked me. I thought racism was dead in America.

As an international student in California, I never considered rejecting an interracial couple as an option.

I heard of the word, “colored people,” for the first time in my life when I was studying To Kill a Mockingbird in my English class. Also, I was surprised when I learned that the setting of the story was within less than a hundred years.

Some people might think that racism no longer exists in America. However, for a lot of people, racism is still a big issue in their lives. A big chunk of generations was taught to be racist in its youth.

Now, the real question is, how should we react to this issue?

The episode ends with an interview with the African-American actor.

Quiñones asks, “She even hugged you. How did that feel?”

“Very weird, but I believe in people,” the actor answers. “I wanted her to know that, no matter what she thought, I was still going to shake her hand and I was still going to hug her because that’s how I am.”

Speak emotion, not words

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When a human speaks what comes out?

Is it failures, hopes, dreams?

Do the words represent freedom?

Or just a logical way to communicate?

Humanity has not always been united in this regard.

Thousands of cultures have existed.

These ancient people made art, tools, and crafted language.

Progress always had it’s price.

Skin color, cultural values, and language all warped.

People could their differences to others.

It is these differences that has caused conflict.

A week without running

… is killing me.

Track season ended so my college coach told me to take 10 days off of running. A lot of runners take a couple days off between the seasons to mentally and physically rest.

For the first 3 days, I was all down from the last race. After that, I was a little happy that I have more free time but today is my 7th day without running and it’s literally killing me. I’m getting stressed out and I don’t feel like I’m alive.

I can feel that I lost muscles. I have way less appetite from not working out. It’s just so strange; The last time I stopped running for a week was probably more than 4 years ago.

3 more days and I can run again!!! But I’m starting the workouts given from my college coach… I can’t believe the next race I’m running is a college cross country race… I will be the youngest and will be competing with college runners… Nervous but exciting. I have no idea what my next 4 years of running would be like.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

Last Saturday, I had my last race of high school. I still can’t believe it’s over.

It wasn’t my best race. I was so overwhelmed with the atmosphere and I lost confidence in myself. I realized that I am still an inexperienced runner.

Afterwards, I was very disappointed in myself for finishing the season like this. I wish I could just rewind time…

But one thing I can say in spite of my performance, is that I made every effort since last summer and I never gave up. I kept my eyes on my goals. I trained and thought about running everyday like I madly fell in love.

So now I want to work to be mentally stronger because long distance running is more than 50% mental.

Running has always been a great teacher in my life and allowed me to grow as a person. I met a lot of people who inspired me. Whether I loose or fail, I get up again, look back at what I could’ve done better and start running again. I gain toughness and guts from tolerating the pain during practices.

This year was very meaningful to me. I am so lucky to have met Mr. Alvarez. I couldn’t have achieved what I did this year without him. He has given me some awesome running experiences.

This is not the end, but just the beginning. I have 4 more years of running in college and right now I don’t see limits.

So I want to say, Mr. Alvarez thank you thank you thank you so much for everything. You are my two third brother hahaha!

I won’t be sad because it’s over, I am happy for what happened and appreciate god and people who supported me.