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Survival Guide for Asian American Women

  1. Put American pop culture in its proper place.

         Stereotypical roles for Asian men and women are so inextricably linked to images fostered by the mass media that an Asian woman who seems immersed in American pop culture will be automatically suspected of having adopted stereotypical images about herself and other Asians. Intelligent Asian Americans tend to view pop culture with a healthy dose of irony and skepticism.

         An Asian American woman too immersed in pop culture can send the wrong signals. For example, the common tendency to use the names of white actors and celebrities as synonyms for physical beauty would be alienating to Asian Americans with healthy self images. So instead of saying "he's a Brad Pitt", be familiar enough wiith Asian pop culture to say "he's a Russell Wong". Say "Toshiro Mifune" or "Chow Yun-Fat" instead of "John Wayne" or "Tom Cruise". These seemingly trivial cultural references can play an important role in establishing you as a woman with a healthy racial identity.

         Lest you be tempted to use American popular culture as a reference for anything in the real world, remember that it is the creation of media conglomerates trying to profit from caucasian (and to a lesser extent, hispanic and black) fears about being overweight, malodorous, underloved and uncool. If you're smart, you will use the mass media for what it is: an excellent gauge of American insecurities and fantasies.

  2. Upgrade your body instead of your wardrobe.

         Being well dressed and well-groomed is an asset. Becoming fixated on fashion trends and beauty treatments is a liability. It's common knowledge that many young Asian women cross that line into the domain of high-maintenance fashion victims. Sadly enough, they confuse lavishing all their free time and money on clothes and beauty salons with self-respect and personal maintenance.

         From my own experience I know that young women often fall into this trap out of a wish to fit in with what appear to be the most desirable cliques. Designer labels and expensive manicures are seen as membership badges for an exclusive sorority. At an age when life seems to pose so many questions and provide so few answers, this fixation on surfaces seems at least to offer a clear and attainable ideal. It also seems to jive with all the alluring messages with which we were bombarded by magazines, TV and the movies. In other words, it's an all-too-easy trap to fall into.

         It's a trap that goes beyond wasting your time and money. It can literally ruin your life by discouraging healthy attention and attracting the unhealthy kind. Intelligent, eligible men regard "high-maintenance woman" as a euphimism for a self-centered quasi-prostitute seeking a sugardaddy. Unless a man has more money than he knows what to do with and is in the market for a mistress, he will stay clear. And rich older men are generally too shrewd to see such women as anything more than short-term recreation -- that is, unless they're very very old or very very repulsive and in desperate search for any kind of human companionship.


         If you're looking to upgrade your look in a way that will attract the right kind of attention, take the time and money you devote to clothes and beauty salons and invest it in regular workouts and healthy outdoor recreation. A trim, active body has lines and movement that not even the most expensive dress can fake. A healthy face has a radiance that no beauty treatment can simulate. A woman in good shape commands not leers from old leches but true admiration from other healthy, attractive people.

  3. Show interest in other Asians.

         In a white-majority social milieu, it's all too easy to focus on Whites and overlook Asians. Many Asians are more reserved due to cultural conditioning and the social disadvantages of being a minority. This is especially true for Asian males in groups of strangers.

         The course of least resistance would be for you to ignore the Asian male and devote your attention to white males. You are unquestionably under subtle but insistent pressure to just that. But if you give in to it, you will not only reinforce stereotypes of sellout Asian females in the eyes of the Asian male, but also in the minds of the non-Asian males. Even if it ultimately turns out that you have more interest in one of the non-Asians, it is not to your advantage to be seen as having bought into a majority-centered social pecking order. You will be cheapened in the minds of non-Asian men and written off in the mind of the Asian male and his acquaintences. PAGE 4

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"Enjoy that empowering bond of being a majority of two Asians in a white gathering."