Being Asian-American translates to many different things. This is especially true if you are a second born generation American like me with first generation parents who emigrated from their home country. Because while you have adapted to regular cultural customs of the one country you’ve always known and been a part of, your parents also taught and instilled within you customs they brought along with them. Identity becomes a difficult concept, and when you try to establish who you are, it’s almost like perfection is the one consistency you can hold onto for grounding. The teasing, bullying, and pressure to conform are all factors that cause Asian-Americans to rely on perfection to feel accepted. But by relying on perfection for a sense of self and belonging, it does more damage than good. Psych2Go shares with you 3 ways Asian shaming leads to harmful perfectionism:
1. There is a stereotype that Asian-Americans are often success stories. When you feel as though you’re not, it causes a sense of alienation, rather than acceptance.
Most people think that Asian-Americans grow up to be doctors, lawyers, or anything else that helps them climb up the social ladder. When Asian-Americans feel as though they’re not living up to that status or expectation, it negatively affects their self-esteem and makes them have preconceived notions that they won’t amount to anything in life unless they have large ambitions and are actively working towards making them come true. The pressure is always on, and when they are nowhere close to achieving that status, it causes them to feel like a failure.
2. Asian-American women are seen as submissive and exotic —the ideal combination to date.
There is a generalization made that all Asian-American women are submissive and exotic, and this is simply not true. We are also apparently a trend in the world of dating, as if we are a form of conquest. Instead of treating us like we’re actual human beings, we face the assumption that we’re only good for boosting the egos of men. As a result, it’s almost expected that Asian-American women aren’t to be fully respected and that they only exist to serve others. This is an awful stereotype and it can also cause a lot of body image issues as a result, because outer beauty is a large focus.
3. Despite being born in the same country, Asian-Americans are viewed as perpetual foreigners.
This is the worst misperception. Because despite sharing the same homeland, we will always be seen as less. And why is that? Why is it that despite being American, Asian-Americans have to try harder to be heard and accepted? Or if we’re not being the typical good Asian-American role models, then we are seen as a disgrace? As a result, it causes so much anxiety and perfectionism to develop that robs us of self-growth and acceptance. And because the stereotypes linger, they creates this vicious perpetual cycle of working hard just to live up to being the model minority. When Asian-Americans work hard to try to close up the gap of differences as much as possible, they hurt themselves, because it means denying the self.
In order for Asian-Americans to be accepted, compassion has to take place. Fostering the idea that differences are okay and eliminating superiority are vital. While it’s impossible to erase history and the many painful stereotypes, generalizations, and racist experiences that have risen from it, it’s important not to neglect that these are all still issues Asian-Americans are combatting. And that instead of taking part within those issues, we are working towards a solution.
Have you experienced Asian shaming? What are your thoughts? Leave a comment down below!
Louie, S. (2017, September 23). Asian Shame & Perfectionism. Psychology Today. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
Yam, K. (2017, May 8). Asian-Americans Have Highest Poverty Rate In NYC, But Stereotypes Make The Issue Invisible. HuffPost. Retrieved October 3, 2017.