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Friday, December 11, 2009

Open Letter From a Very Annoyed Asian Reader

So, I am more or less free from the rest of the december (DONE MY LAST RESEARCH PAPER OF THE SEMESTER W00T!!), and since it's a friday I should get those link round ups ready but DAMN, I just read three books in a row that did this thing I really, really hate and piled up with all my pent-up school stress I'm going to have an Open Letter From a Very Annoyed Asian Reader. But before I rant I will have gratuitous pic of Kang Ji-Hwan. Just to balance out the letter that follows.



Dear White Writers That Choose to Depict Asians In Their Works,

Now, I'm a reader, and I love reading English-language books with Asians in them. Since they're so hard to come by, whenever I find a book with Asians in it, they almost always get top priority in my reading list. Writers like you who choose to make the attempt to have diversity in their work by having an Asian character in the cast give me hope that someday I might, you know, see more Asian representation in the world of Novels and less white-washed casts as defaults in the story.

However, there's these three words that I am finding extremely common in books written by White authors when describing their Asian character of choice:

Almond-shaped eyes.

Almond

Shaped

Eyes.

*breathes*

Okay, first up, my eyes are not fucking almonds. They're not little pieces of edible nuts you can chew on for a fucking snack. They aren't food. And what is with this blanket term "Almond-shaped eyes" to allude to your Asian character's Asian-ness? For one thing, not all eye shapes of Asian look the same! I know, this may be a shocking revelation to you, but they aren't and whenever I see this term being used to describe the Asian character, it kind of makes me think that you have never talked or interacted with an Asian person in any real way in your entire life. Either that, or you're just being lazy and copying this commonly used terminology as a blanket term to describe all Asian facial features. Both these reasons don't exactly make me appreciate or respect you as a writer.

FYI, This is not to discourage white writers from choosing to depict Asian characters! Please, do carry on in your attempts. But maybe next time you might want to consider doing a bit of research. Take a good hard look at the Asian population. And maybe then you might get into your head that Asian eyes are not almonds. Even if you think Asian eyes somehow do equate to almonds, just, pretend you aren't an ignorant sod and don't use the term anyway. I cannot and will not speak for all Asians, but I personally find it offensive and it's slowly becoming one of those buttons where once I see it, I'm put off from finishing the whole thing.

Signed,

Ah Yuan aka wingstodust

5 comments:

ninefly said...

Kang Ji-Hwan! \8D/

hmm, I thought ALL eyes were shaped like almonds, pointy at the edges and round in the middle? lol
unless there are Asian-specific almonds(??)
still, there are skinny almonds and fat almonds, though a lot of white male actors have skinny almond eyes too? =T
it's like saying "he has a nose! he uses it to breathe!", makes them sound stupid XD;

I get why you're angry, but seriously, if I wanna see asian characters, I'll resort to asian media (ex. Kang Ji-Hwan)

Ah Yuan // wingstodust said...

@ninefly,

KJH~~~ Be in a new drama/movie already so I can drool all over you~~ *is bricked*

This is one of those things where normally I'm like, "again? meh" and move on with my life, but my gawd, THREE BOOKS IN A ROW?! For real!? I just, I exploded. Like seriously, it's like their codeword or something for them wanting to say 'Asian eyes' but don't dare say it outright or something or they're just too brain-dead to use another description. It's to the point where I'm like please, BE MORE CREATIVE.

lol well, I do think there is a different between seeing Asians from the "sourceland", and seeing Asians as a minority in a "Western" world, and how I look and identify with the Diaspora Asians more than I would with the Asians sourcelanders, but I get this feeling I talked to you about this aspect of me already so I'll just shut up to avoid repeating myself. xD;;

Sapphire Pyro said...

I am not familiar with that asian celebrity . . . but he looks hott~

ah, perhaps that's they're asian stereotype? They are perhaps not that aware of the variations of asians. Get a Chinese, Iranian, and Malaysian . . . they all look different, but they're all Asians! . . . but hhhmm . . . I'm not sure where the almond-shaped thing came from . . .

MissAttitude said...

Arghhh that's so frustrating! At my old school I'd never met an Asian person (all white school), but once in high school I did and they;re eyes arne't almond shaped! Don't compare eyes to foods, especailly nuts. It's a bit odd. although (I hope this doesn't sound offesive and feel free to rant if it does offend) but I think Asian eyes are beuatiful, I LOVE their shape and I don't fully understand why Asian women get the fold surgery (I read the book The Fold by An Na and it helped explain things, but it was just a decent read).
I recommend you read She's So Money by Cherry Cheva, Good Enough by Paula Yoo, Ash by Malinda Lo and The Great Call of China by Cynthia Liu (I haven't read this one yet, but I own it and it looks good) for some good fiction with Asian main characters.
I defintiely co sign this letter!

Doret said...

Have you read any of the Gilda Joyce mysteries. That is some serious MG fun right there. I love me some Gilda Joyce.

Gilda's best friend is Chinese. Wendy Cho. She plays a big part in the third book. Though you should enjoy this series and their friendship from the beginning.

And the author never says anything about Almond eyes or eyes period.