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Being Asian is nothing to be ashamed of

Updated on September 5, 2012
Charlie's initial Southeast Asian street style; Is it just me or do I see absolutely NOTHNG wrong with this pic, accept that it looks, well.. Too typically... "Asian"? (since this look is extremely popular in Japan and Taiwan at the moment)
Charlie's initial Southeast Asian street style; Is it just me or do I see absolutely NOTHNG wrong with this pic, accept that it looks, well.. Too typically... "Asian"? (since this look is extremely popular in Japan and Taiwan at the moment)
Charlie's new, "improved" look, according to GQ. Is it just me or do I sense a tinge of whitewashing here? Great; now he looks like a "nice white boy", as opposed to an "unsophisticated Asian man", right?
Charlie's new, "improved" look, according to GQ. Is it just me or do I sense a tinge of whitewashing here? Great; now he looks like a "nice white boy", as opposed to an "unsophisticated Asian man", right?
The Taiwanese singer Wu Zun on a 2010 issue of GQ Taiwan.  Now before you condemn his look as "juvenile" and "unsophisticated", you should know that women drool over this dude
The Taiwanese singer Wu Zun on a 2010 issue of GQ Taiwan. Now before you condemn his look as "juvenile" and "unsophisticated", you should know that women drool over this dude
"Western civilization came to this country in 1788, and I'm proud of that." -Tony Abbott, leader of the Australian Opposition Party
"Western civilization came to this country in 1788, and I'm proud of that." -Tony Abbott, leader of the Australian Opposition Party
Me and my bangs. No matter what the Anglo-Saxon media may say, you will NEVER part THIS proud Asian boy from HIS bangs!
Me and my bangs. No matter what the Anglo-Saxon media may say, you will NEVER part THIS proud Asian boy from HIS bangs!

Western civilization came to this country (Australia) in 1788, and I'm proud of that.

-Tony Abbott, Right-wing leader of the Australian Opposition Party

I was once at Times bookstore, and I decided to flip through GQ magazine out of curiosity. (Now as you probably know, I dislike GQ USA as much as the typical butch female would dislike Cosmopolitan as it tears down my fashion sense and condemns my personal style when it comes to casualwear, which consists mainly of deep V-necks, tight tank tops, short shorts and plunging necklines, all deemed "inappropriate" by their so-called "style gurus", which means I'm practically supposed to give up wearing everything I love, in order to look "GQ", but I wanted to give it one more chance to prove my bad impression of it wrong) Within the magazine, I found something particularly disturbing to my left-wing Asian sensitivities, and that was the issue on hair. You see, in the 'Before and After' column, they featured this Asian guy named Charlie, whose hair was cut in the typical contemporary Taiwanese fashion. They then went on to describe apparently how distasteful such a hairstyle was, and how it was "not suitable for a grown man".

"Charlie is starting law school in the fall, but his hair looked like it was about to start middle school. "I've never met an adult male who can pull off bangs," says Blackmore. "It's Bieber- only territory." It was time Charlie graduated to something more his age: a no. 3 clipper fade with tons of texture on top. "I haven't seen my forehead since 2006," said Charlie afterward."

(Excerpt from GQ's best summer haircuts for men by Jordan Blackmore)

Now here's the thing. In case you were not aware, Mr Blackmore, loads of grown men including me, sport Charlie's initial hairstyle, and we love it. Not only is it manageable and well-tailored to soft Asian features, we also find it modern and funky. Perhaps you were not aware that Charlie's style of hair is extremely popular among young men in contemporary Southeast Asia, and by condemning it as "juvenile", you are in fact condemning contemporary Southeast Asian men as "juvenile". You know on further reflection, I see what this is. I was reading a feminist article (I don't usually give feminist or male rights activist articles the time of the day, but this one really struck some good chords) which said something to the extent that since the majority of people who hate Justin Bieber are teenage boys, it has got something to do with the strict gender role and rigidly defined social and dress boundaries Western Society places on men, and since Bieber obviously breaks every single rule of rigidly defined, acceptable hegemonic mainstream Western masculinity (The stiff and buttoned-up corporate figure, PREFERABLY interested in women), teenage and adolescent boys pretend to hate him when they really don't; they reject his identity fiercely, because it goes against how society and the media has conditioned them to think about how men are supposed behave and dress, in the same way a fundamentalist Christian might reject homosexuality fiercely, because it contradicts his one-track worldview, therefore it must be "bad". You are just contributing to the problem of restrictive gender roles, by saying that the only acceptable form of masculinity on a "grown man" is that of the traditional 1950s Anglo-Saxon patriarch (e.g. Don Draper, James Bond, Tony Abbott), while dismissing all other forms of masculinity as invalid.

GQ USA is therefore successful at getting away at what I term "politically correct racism"; while it would be socially inappropriate not to mention extremely foolish to write that Charlie's 'Chingchong Chinaman' hairstyle sucks, they are able to phrase it in such a way that makes them seem like the oh-so-sophisticated style gurus who possess the monopoly on good taste, which underlies a degree of xenophobia (hatred for anything "foreign", in which case bangs, which are extremely uncommon among contemporary Western men), and ethnocentrism (due to the fact that bangs on men are often associated with Japanese and Korean pop stars, and have only recently been adopted by the likes of metrosexuals like Bieber and Zac Efron, this makes them more or less an "Asian" thing. But since bangs are "Asian", they must be "unsophisticated", right? Because Asian men, unless they behave and groom themselves in a typically Anglo-Saxon manner, are "unsophisticated") Such a pity that getting my style inspiration from Korean and Japanese pop stars is going to land me on mainstream men's media's "worst dressed list". Ethnocentrism coated in sickeningly sweet, artificially flavored raspberry syrup, is what I call it. Oh; and please don't pooh pooh me on how I'm being oversensitive, that I have a chip on my shoulder, because God knows that it isn't simply a matter of having a chip on my shoulder; it's a matter of me being respected as an Asian, not as an Asian who conforms to traditional Anglo-Saxon norms of presentation, because "it's just good style".

The boxer Joe Louis was considered a "nice black man", because he was subservient to white people by not criticizing them, didn't touch white women, and played by the whites' rules (e.g. behaved and styled himself like a "nice white boy", but didn't demand equal rights to them). But his predecessor Jack Johnson on the other hand, was considered a "bad black man", because he was the complete polar opposite of Joe Louis. He didn't hesitate to criticize the whites, he fucked white women, and did everything that was considered "taboo" for a black man of the time. In other words, he was "unapologetically black". Unlike Louis, he was not ashamed of being himself, and saw it as his moral right to marry whoever he wanted, and call out white people who were treating black people like second-class citizens.

Likewise, why should we Asian men have to restrict ourselves to traditional Anglo-Saxon norms of acceptable masculinity, like the Anglo-Saxon version of GQ is subtly suggesting, in order to be accepted by the mainstream? It is our legal and moral right to be treated as people, not because we compromise our personal identity and individuality in order to "fit in with the mainstream", but simply because, we are people. We Asians have been kowtowing to the West for CENTURIES, hoping that by impersonating our colonizers, we would somehow gain "equal status" with them. No, my friend. Hardly so. You could dress a monkey up in a suit, and put on a Don Draper wig on him, and to you he would still be a monkey to you. (Not comparing Asians to monkeys!) The same case can be made for the generations of Asians, 'Anglophiles' if you will, who spared no effort in their attempt to be "more British than the English", so to speak. No matter how they styled their hair, no matter how typically "Anglo-Saxon" they looked and dressed, they would continue to be seen as merely second-class citizens by the dominant hegemony, many of whom were under the impression that these "Orientals" were simple-minded folk who could not speak English to save their lives. In fact, the sole act of unquestioning subservience towards Anglo-Saxon norms only served to cause our white colonizers to despise us even more!(It shows lack of backbone, which is why for a long time, Westerners have stereotyped Asians, especially Asian men as "weak")

The fact is that in our relatively politically correct society, openly phrased racism is generally frowned upon, but that doesn't mean that there are people such as Mr Blackmore, neo-Imperialists, if you will, who still see anything "Asian" as second-class. My hope is that rather than being unquestioningly subservient to the mores of Anglo-Saxon masculinity, we Asians should learn to act and think for ourselves, as opposed to dressing and behaving to please our former colonizers. We have been ever so respectful towards our former colonial overlords for the last hundred years, and seeing that such respect has not been equally reciprocated, well I guess it's about time we Asians stopped being so damned respectful. Cut your hair any way you like, wear whatever article of clothing you please, let your hair be as black as a seed of black sesame, be proud of who you are and what your culture has achieved, and if your former colonial master doesn't like it, well then that's too bad; because people like me, we don't see any shame in being Asian.


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    • supra9 profile image

      supra9 4 years ago

      Charlie's first look is my favorite. Hairstyles with bangs on a man can look a lot sophisticated and modern in my opinion, and most Asian guys look perfect with them; also edgy, architectural haircuts.

      You are really attractive and have a gorgeous face, if you don't mind me saying so. :)

      I think many times guys look so much more, mmh... expressive and charming with longer hair and/or bangs. It adds more youthfulness as well, and maybe that is why it is called juvenile by some people. Curious enough, they never say a juvenile look on a woman is actually a bad thing. It just seems like many people want men to always look older ("mature"), and they believe short hair with no bangs add even more "manliness" to them. Also short, plain haircuts are less expressive in some ways - and that is how men are supposed to be in our sexist society. No emotional depth, no emotional expression (other than anger), no vanity, no bigger interest in their appearance. And I strongly believe the limited haircuts and choice of clothes for men reflect their supposed position and role in our culture. Hope I am being able to express what I am trying to.

      Overall, it seems like guys with longer hair and/or bangs are in general more pen-minded and in touch with their more feminine/vain/expressive or even rebelious side and that is a plus in my eyes. I dislike guys so weak that they need to fit the "macho man" role to a T and just throw away their own individuality. I respect you for standing by your choices.

    • profile image

      Joopdoop1 5 years ago

      This is really awesome and i love that.. This is very unique thing you put on that post.. Thanks for sharing...

    • profile image

      Sam 5 years ago

      I agree that if the fathers were abusive then yes the mothers had perfectly justifiable reason to leave. But in my personal opinion the guy in my previous comment has got nerve talking about racism. I can think of quite a few racist things that Japan and even China are guilty of. If this guy feels that way about America it could be that he has had some bad experiences with the racist parts of America because from what I have heard there are some parts of America where Asians do and fit in wonderfully.

    • BereniceTeh90 profile image

      BereniceTeh90 5 years ago


      Hey man; i'm not American so i may be a little misinformed in my impression on the issue, but i've noticed that some parts of America (and the American media,e.g. GQ magazine) are still very "1950s", in their ideas, and that encompasses restrictive gender norms, racism, and so on. I have heard of such cases in the media, but i'd need to know more about the details to have a firm stance on the issue. Now; if the Japanese mothers in question had taken the children away because of abusive husbands (and if he's anything like Mr GQ, then I don't blame them), then it's perfectly justified. But more likely than not, that is sadly the case. Many Asian women come to the West hoping to meet a John Smith, but usually what they get is a Homer Simpson, albeit a more violent, testosterone-packed version; someone no respectable Western woman would touch. And believe me, if a man takes GQ seriously, then he's gona have some very stereotypically 1950s patriarchal ideas on gender roles; and that is a very ugly trait in a man, if you ask me.

    • BereniceTeh90 profile image

      BereniceTeh90 5 years ago

      Hey John; sorry for the late reply! HAHA, Berenice is a pseudonym i use to keep my head intact (My real name is Chris); it's the name of a character in my romance novel. Thanks bro; in this world of strict Anglo-Saxon conformity we Asians have got to keep our heads lifted high and be proud of who we are, and what our culture has achieved. It is such a shame that many Asian people are turning into "Anglophiles", sorta like Chacko from The God of Small Things, Asians who almost seem ashamed of being Asian, who will reject anything and everything that is associated with "Asian-ness". I duno man; you should know better than i do, HAHA; you're Australian, i'm just a visitor (i'm in 4th year studying)! Well you know wot though? My uncle married an Aussie lady, and they both live in Echuca. But mind you, when he first started dating her in the 70s, there was A lot of tension between him and his in-laws, particularly his father in-law. Some of them doubtless found it difficult to accept the fact that he was an Asian Malaysian man, someone so different from them. But eventually he won them over, and they now have 3 beautiful kids (my cozins).

      Perhaps Ms Right has not yet shown up for you, John; just keep waiting and eventually she will turn up. You know a lot of women don't even start dating till their 30s, perhaps you might want to consider an older, more mature woman? (Younger women tend to idolize the hyper-masculine, strictly straight Don Draper/Tony Abbott/GQ/James Bond types, but then they mature in their taste in men as they get older) as they I personally have never had a relationship, as my life has all this while been dedicated to politics, sport (Muay Thai) and studies, but i'd love to date a nice Australian girl if i am privileged enough to meet one. hahaa

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      Sam 5 years ago

      Just out of curiosity do you think that there is racism towards Asians here in America because some people say there is but I personally have never noticed. (Now before I go on I just want to say I am not bothered or am hurting myself with this I am just curious because I have personally never noticed such racism) The reason I ask is because I just read an article written back in 2011 that American children were being kidnapped and brought to Japan by Japanese mothers the fathers were American. One of the commentors found the story ego and Amero-centric and the other comments had racism and arrogance of White America in it (I personally don't know if that is true or not I did not read them all) he goes on to say what gives these American White men more rights then these Japanese mothers. Then he says these children are clearly Asian (not biologically there not) and that ironically these fathers want them back on American soil so they can beat the living spirits out of them (and how would he know that) and goes on to say shame on you I hope the Japanese government see's this board to see America for what it trully is or maybe that is why they protect these women. Well maybe some of these men were poor fathers and husbands but they couldn't all be like that could they? Seriously I thought people like this died out after Jim Crow and racial segregation ended.

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      John 5 years ago

      Hi Berenice (Btw is that your name, I thought it was a female name, forgive my ignorance though lol), I replied in your post about the myth of the ugly male body.

      I too am Asian Australian, and speaking about hairstyles: when I go to an 'Asian' hairdresser, or one 'specializing' in 'Asian hair' and ask to look through the magazines etc I do notice the styles etc are very much different...Being kind of a 'hipster', muso, artiste whatever label you wanna stick on me, I sported a Beatlesque hair with long fringe for awhile...i've never tried to be a 'boy's boy', I have nothing wrong with having a drink with the boys now and again, but i'm far from blokey. I'm not a raging 'metrosexual' or whatever either, I prefer not to be boxed in. But I get you, I think many people sort of make fun of Asian fashion, thinking the men are too feminine (I do agree the men do have a more feminine look to the 'Anglophile' ideal).

      Getting back on topic, I'm of SE Asian ancestry but have lived my whole life in Australia so am culturally Australian. Still when i was younger i admit there were times I wished I was 'white.' I didn't experience serious racism (occasional name calling) but I was aware of being 'different'. Being awkward and having social anxiety did not help. I was always a quiet, thoughtful, artistic child.

      Anyway, to be frank i'm 26 and i've never had a serious relationship. I've dated, but it never got beyond friends. I'm open to dating women of all 'races.' I sometimes wonder how many Australian women are still closed to dating Asian men...I'm sure many are open, but it's hard to gauge sometimes when you want to approach a woman. Maybe it's a moot point since I so very rarely approach women in general, let alone ask them out. Would you curious to hear your experiences in this arena, if you want to share.

      But yeah, keep holding your head high. Just be who you are. We're all Earthlings, part of the web of life, race, culture, etc are just artificial barriers we create as excuses to hate and discriminate.

    • BereniceTeh90 profile image

      BereniceTeh90 5 years ago

      Thanks Sam =)

    • profile image

      Sam 5 years ago

      Hi Berenice

      I am not Asian but I do agree with you absolutely. People have a right to be proud of there race, culture, and heritage. Every race has it's flaws and evils yes but also every race has it's great achievements things that have made them well known in history. Be who you want to be and don't ever let anyone tell you different.


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