Not Your Model Minority

I recently read an opinion piece on New York Times that really resonated with me. It was called “Stop Calling Asian Women Adorable” and the author, R.O. Kwon, wrote about her experience working in professional settings and constantly being called cute or adorable, and even at one point, someone saying that they wanted to adopt her. The article can be found here. My mind was blown away because 1. Why would anyone think that any of these comments are appropriate in any setting and 2. I couldn’t help but think about other incidences where I have experienced these types of invalidation. And I also wondered how I have also perpetuated this stereotype as well.

The objectification of Asian American women is not a new concept and it’s leaking into all aspects of our lives. How the heck am I supposed to get any work done when people just don’t take me seriously?! Obviously women of all background experience this type of ‘harmless’ stereotyping, but for Asian women it’s just a different beast. The Model Minority stereotypes facilitates these types of comments as a way for people to diminish the value and worth of Asian people. If you haven’t heard what the Model Minority myth is, here is an article that talks about it in length.

For me this is was an important read, especially coming from a performing arts perspective. In my entire marching career, I was constantly told how cute I was and how because I am Asian, I was “supposed” to be on the sabre line or I had to be so graceful, etc. This fetishization of who I was supposed to be was toxic and made me feel like I wasn’t living to everyone’s expectations of what it meant to be an Asian woman. As an adult, I still hear all these toxic messages about who I’m supposed to be in my career! And yes, I still hear about how fricking cute I am. So, what I would like readers to take away from this is to stop calling Asian women cute. Stop complimenting a woman’s body as a way to validate the things that she’s done.

Cindy Su