Dating an Asian American Man Made Me Feel Invisible
I went to college in the Midwest, where I would say whiteness is valued even more than in other parts of the country. There were a lot of girls who just found that “grew up on a farm, sunburn easily” look. irresistible. And it made me feel invisible every day. I could walk into a party wearing a Gucci tuxedo, telling a witty story about my good friend the Dalai Lama; if I stood next to a tall, bearded white guy in ripped cargo shorts, every eyeball in the room would drift towards him and away from me.
Now listen, not everyone is racist, and I’ve had my share of dates. And yes, dating is difficult for everyone. But on a superficial level, it’s hard to feel bad and remember it every day. When I think of invisibility, I think of the American general public who view Asian men as undesirable, forced to be silent accountants and nerdy computer technicians, but never swaggering cowboys or swaggering archaeologists, it all comes together affecting decision-making decisions. more media that reinforce the same stereotypes, and the cycle repeats itself.
If I could go back and talk to my younger self, I would tell her that dating is about quality, not quantity. I think that’s generally really good advice for everyone, even if it’s not exactly what you want to hear in college when most people are in their sexual prime. I would also tell him that things are improving, slowly but surely. I would tell him that boy bands are back, and the biggest boy band in the world right now is Korean. I would tell him that in 2022 we would have more than one Asian-led genre film, and even a Marvel superhero. I would also tell him to invest in Marvel.
But most importantly, I would tell him to let go of all that internalized racism. I spent much of my youth trying to avoid anything that made me look, sound or feel more Asian. I probably lost some great friendships with other Asians, just because I didn’t want to be seen with them. But as I got older I learned that I can never run away from how I look and that it’s so much better to embrace all aspects of who I am. I am more fulfilled because I surround myself with people who look like me and understand me. And that inner glow that you get from having that kind of self-confidence – it is attractive.