The Biggest Problem In Media Today...
I'm not sick in the way that Vanessa was sick on her date with Nick on The Bachelor this week from a zero gravity experience. I'm not sick in the way that we all feel time to time after one too many servings of our favorite meal. And I'm not sick from food poisoning like I was three years ago during the week of my conference meet (that fricken sucked...).
I'm sick of a lack of representation. It is incredibly hard to be a digital influencer in a world that has a lack of fair representation.
I want nothing more than to inspire others. But in order to do so, I too need to draw inspiration just like everyone else. It makes it much more difficult to do so when there aren't a ton of Asian-American influencers, actors, and artists of different mediums that dominate the industries like other nationalities do. Luckily, I've found a couple of amazing Asian American influencers that I can relate to over the past couple of months.
But those makeup tutorials that American and European women post that have double eyelids? I can't relate to. I can't use the eyeliner they use, because my monolid smudges it all over the rest of my eyelid. I can't do the same smokey eye, because my crease sits where the edge of my eye begins. And if you have no clue what I'm talking about? Refer to this image:
A lot of Asian women are drawn to getting cosmetic surgery because of Western beauty standards. And not gonna lie....I've even considered it too. But this was years ago when I struggled to find my place in this world and wasn't quite comfortable with how the universe intended for me to be.
I think about our social media use, where it is and where it's going. I fear that the influencer world will take over a little too much and brainwash us into thinking there is only one way to be powerful--and that is to be beautiful and obtain a large follower base.
There is more to each of us. Power strikes us in the oddest of times and places. To one, it may be the simple act of serving a meal at the local soup kitchen. To another, it may be a weekly donation to their church. And to another? It may be the ability to connect well with others and to communicate ideas clearly. Power is what you make of it. You simply create your own definition of power.
My definition of power? Feeling empowered.... If I'm empowered, I have power over myself and I hold the ability to dictate my own path.
One of the most inspiring and empowering bloggers that I look up to is Chriselle Lim.
Not only is she stunning, but she has shown me what my life could be like as an Asian American beyond the typical stereotype. Oh, this is how I can do my makeup. This is how I can dress for the person I choose to be today. This is how to style this and this with some cultural influence.
It's amazing what she does. She values her family and their history. On her daughter's birthday, they sang Happy Birthday in 3 different languages--English, Korean, and Chinese. It was incredible.
This is an empowered Asian-American woman that I look up to. The only problem now, is that I have to do some more extensive research to find more. There aren't really any strong Asian leads in the movies (both male and female), nor are there really any asian influenced-singers and songwriters that jump to the forefront of my mind. And one of the worst parts? I've found that most often times when asian actors are cast in a role, they portray the typical stereotypical asian. And that truly saddens me.
It honestly confuses me when movies sometimes cast Americans to play Asian-American roles. I'm Asian-American. I think I would know if the actor resembled an Asian-American...anddddd they don't really.
When was the last time an Asian-American was the strong and sexy main character?
These shows may be great--but the Asian-American actors in them are the stereotypical asian and are often times portrayed to be the "oddball."
As a young girl, I looked up to Brenda Song. Yes, she played a not-so smart character on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, but she was Asian like me. And that was a more relatable character than I had ever gotten. I was thrilled when she landed the role of Wendy in Wendy Wu Homecoming Warrior. She played a strong and powerful female lead that I looked up to. And that is something the other millions of Asian-Americans need to be able to relate to in the media.
When will the media make it to a point where people are just people and stereotypes can be broken? As a 100% Korean-American, I can honestly say that I'm not the best at math. Am I the World's Worst Driver? No. Am I the best? No, not really. Just like most people, I live a normal and average life that doesn't always correlate with the given stereotypes associated with my nationality.
When I went to Korea in 2015 to meet my birth mother, we ended up taking cabs a lot in Seoul. It's a pretty efficient form of transportation. Were the drivers there a little crazier? Yes. But that is because the road conditions weren't as great as they are here in the US. It may also be due to the large population of 24 million, bringing Seoul to be the 4th largest metropolitan area in the entire world. I hate sitting in traffic just as much as the next guy, but we take our excellent road conditions for granted. They are so well planned, and our government does such a great job at maintaining high levels of efficiency, that we sometimes need to remember that. I'll never forget driving down dirt and stone paths in Africa, and wondering if we would even make it back to the hotel because the traffic was so terrible. There were no lines, no traffic lights at intersections--it was just free for all. So remember these conditions the next time your mind begins to make a predisposed opinion.
I want to change this world just as much as you. And it starts with this:
We both need to recognize the media and it's affects on everyone. We need to consider representation and lack thereof. And we need to do something about it.
The biggest impacts we make come from an ability to relate. It's time for the media to give us all access to those we can actually relate to. It's time to break boundaries and stereotypes. People are people and we should treat them as such. We should ensure that the younger generations have strong leaders in the media to not only look up to, but relate to on a personal level beyond the stereotypes. That alone is what is going to transform the world.