We love them and we hate them — We love them because it makes defining people much easier. We hate them when they actually apply to us.
Stereotypes make it so that we can categorize and lump people into blanket definitions of what society has generalized about them.
It creates an umbrella statement over a specific group of people that unfortunately often tend to be true.
However, for those of us who do fall into certain stereotypes, we know that they’re not necessarily always true.
A majority of my closest friends and even past boyfriends are white.
I swear it wasn’t intentional, (or maybe it was) but somehow that’s just how it always turned out.
With that being the case, I was always the person who was a little different — Different in terms of how I was raised, different in terms of the food I ate, different in terms of certain habits or mannerisms I possess.
I was different because I’m not white.
And the truth of the matter is, I was always labeled as “the asian friend” or “the asian girlfriend”. The purpose for this label, I don’t really know, but at times, I kind of wish it wasn’t that way.
We all know a handful of the Asian stereotypes that exist.
“Asians are good at math.”
“Asians can’t drive.”
“Asians are short.”
Well, I’m decent at math, I consider myself to be a good driver, and I am indeed a short person.
These are facts that are about me as an individual — I just hate that these things are often linked to the fact that I’m Asian.
I never really minded when people would bring up that fact, especially if it was someone I was close to, because I knew that it wasn’t intended in a negative way.
Obviously the times I did mind were when things were said in a condescending or belittling way. And again, sometimes I would get it from my friends, unintentionally.
I’d get called out for being the “token Asian friend” as if I was a character in a show or movie.
Maybe it was because I’m polite or maybe it’s because I just wanted to avoid drama, but I never said anything about how I felt being the “token Asian friend”.
I wanted to think that it was funny and I wanted to have a laugh too…but, I’m not really laughing anymore.
A little while back, I watched a video posted by Huffington Post where an Asian model told his story about the difficulties of breaking through in the industry as an Asian man.
The model looks back on the things said to him, such as “You’re really good-looking for an Asian guy.”
I immediately connected with his experiences and how he felt growing up — Being called our for your race, and not who you are as a person.
And hearing a story like this was inspiring because people never really opened up about these things publicly before.
It made me a little less uncomfortable writing about these topics.
We love them and we hate them.
Yes, they may make our lives a little easier, but not necessarily for the people that they are about.
Just remember that the next time you want want to bucket someone into a stereotype.