If you’re an Asian person, chances are you’ve probably heard these 10 things and many other stereotypes about your community before.
As a life coach, author and queen of setting healthier boundaries, Michelle Elman regularly discusses Asian-based stereotypes on her feed, along with a wide range of different issues; such as relationships, body image and self love.
“Where are you actually from?”
For a few years now, I have refused to answer this question. I say London on purpose and no matter how many times you ask, I will continue to say London. People will often persist with “but where are your parents from?” or “No, I mean ethnically”.
Yellow fever is a term that is often used within dating to refer to anyone who has dated or is dating Asian women. I learnt this term when I had my first boyfriend. His friends continually told him that he has “yellow fever”. It is not only offensive to refer to Asian people as yellow but also it feeds into the fetishisation and over-sexualisation of Asian women that already exists. The idea that a man has to have “yellow fever” in order to find an Asian woman attractive is also offensive.
“You don’t have Asian eyes” or any joke
Unsurprisingly, not every single Asian has the same eyes. We don’t all have monolids and having a double eyelid doesn’t make us any less Asians. Similarly, jokes about slanty eyes or pulling your eyes is racist and needs to be acknowledged as such.
“Do you eat dogs?” or now “Why do you eat bats?”
Since being a creator online in the pandemic, the number of bat emojis that are commented in my comment section or comments about the food we eat. Every culture has different delicacies, no I have never eaten dog but I have eaten jellyfish and I love chicken feet. Respect the differences in other people’s food and culture.
All Asians look the same
The range and complexities in appearance when it comes to Asians has been completely ignored and dismissed as a result of such a narrow portrayal of what it looks like to be Asian in western media. Often when we think of an Asian appearance, we assume Chinese and as a result we ignore South Asian cultures and the fact that many Asians are dark skinned and have different facial features.
Asians are so skinny
This stereotype is not only inaccurate but harmful to plus size Asian people because it creates an additional pressure to look a certain way, on top of the pressure of the beauty ideal and diet culture that already exists for everyone else.
What’s your real name?
When someone tells you their name, respect that. Sometimes people don’t have an “Asian name” and sometimes they are so bored of having their “Asian name” butchered that they have used a western one for their own ease and comfort. I myself do not use my Chinese name. My reasons for not doing that largely stem from insecurities around my pronunciation of my own name but that is my choice.
Your English is really good
This comment has been a consistent annoyance throughout my whole life. There was a moment in school when I said something in the past tense that should have been in the present when a friend started laughing at me. The teacher interjected saying “Don’t make fun of Michelle, English isn’t her first language.” I said it was. She then proceeded to try to fix it by saying to my friend “Well you can’t speak two languages”, at which point I said “Nor can I”. English is my one and only language.
You look like Lucy Liu, Mulan or insert only Asian actor you can name
The lack of Asian representation in the media is never more noticeable than when this comment comes up in conversation. I look nothing like Lucy Liu, I definitely don’t look like Jackie Chan and Mulan is a fictional cartoon character. The fact you think I look similar to Lucy Liu is the same as anyone saying that every redhead looks like Rupert Grint. In my childhood, it was only Lucy Liu, but as the representation has grown marginally, the comment hasn’t improved. I don’t look like Sandra Oh either, she’s Korean and I’m Chinese. The only vague similarity is our black hair, that’s it.
You are really cool for an Asian You aren’t like other Asian
I once had a friend introduce me to her friendship group with the phrase “This is Michelle, she’s Chinese but she’s cool”. This perpetuates the idea that all Asians are nerdy and geeky. This is a stereotype that has been perpetuated in the media and movies and it removes the ability for Asians to be treated as individuals. It is not a compliment to be told, we aren’t like others because in trying to compliment us, you are insulting other members of our race and inherently saying that being Asian is a bad thing to be, yet we are the exception to that rule.
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