Identified as Un-Asian

Tiffany Leung

 

Growing up, I only knew what I was not and what I do not have.

I do NOT have straight, full hair.

I am NOT skinny.

I am NOT good at math or science whatsoever.

I am NOT quiet, reserved, and polite.

I do NOT have rich Asian parents.

My parents were NOT strict on me.

How could they be?

I only saw my father for two hours during the day.

My mother sewed clothes 24/7 for below legal pay.

My brother was making his way in the world away from home.

Strictness requires attention and quality time.

 

So when growing up in a community that is predominantly Asian, and sharing no attributes with the people around me…I was lost.

 

I still feel lost.

I do not feel entirely connected to people of my culture.

I am Asian. But that is just my ethnicity.

It is not my identity.

 

So I rebel against Asian stereotypes.

I don’t have straight hair, but I have beautiful eyes.

I can’t be skinny, but God Bless my buxom boobs.

I can’t be good at math or science, so history can be my academic focus.

I am not modest, but I am vivacious, opinionated, and untamed.

I don’t have rich parents, but I am grateful for my loving parents.

I don’t have strict parents, but I am grateful for having a roof over my head.

 

I need to get it out of my head that being Asian means aligning with Asian stereotypes.

Not only is it disrespectful to Asians, but it is also limiting.

I am not able to do this just yet.

I am not able to let go of the fact that I grew up so differently from all the pretty little Asian girls.

 

I wanted to be them.

I wanted to fit a size 00 at Hollister. Better yet, I wanted to afford Hollister.

I wanted to be petite and playful and polite.

I wanted my parents to be around when I came home from school.

I wanted everything they had.

I wanted to be Asian.

 

But I only got the scraps of this bitterly constructed identity.

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