Unpacking why I’m Ashamed of my Asian Culture
My Goal of Breaking Away From Stereotypes Lead to Subconscious Thoughts I Never Wanted
We live in a world where judgments happen in a split second. People watch me — a twenty-something Chinese female — walk down the street, and they’ll immediately make assumptions about what I like, how I speak, my upbringing, and why I’ve made my decisions in life.
Everyone seems to have an idea of who I’m going to be before I even open my mouth to say a single word.
Before I begin, I just want to make something very clear — to myself, to my family, and to anyone who ever reads this. I am proud to be Chinese-Canadian. I am not ashamed of who I am. I don’t wish I looked different or that my parents raised me differently. I just don’t like when people assume who I am and what I like. And I hate it even more when people are right.
I feel like that headstrong, stubborn, devil’s advocate part of me has driven many of the decisions of my life. After all, the last thing I’ve ever wanted in life is to be a walking-talking stereotype.
Let’s dive into this a little.
I’m the girl who refuses to go into the women’s only section of the gym. The varsity athlete in me didn’t ever want anyone to think I was intimidated by the men who thought they were hot shit for lifting heavy plates. I am pretty sure that part of the reason I studied engineering — specifically software — was because I wanted to be the girl who could dominate in a man’s world.
So does it surprise anyone that I hate Chinese food? And that I cannot name a single anime character? Or that the very idea of K-pop music makes me internally cringe?
Old habits die hard, especially when they’re subconscious. And the oldest habit I have is trying to prove to racist strangers that not all 700 million Chinese girls are the same — and that even if they were, I’d be different than the rest of them.
I am a third-generation Chinese-Canadian, but I didn’t grow up in a completely whitewashed bubble. My parents tried to speak to me in (albeit quite broken) Mandarin for as long as their vocabulary could hold. I went to my grandma’s to celebrate every major Chinese holiday…