i’m gonna make a confession. when i was younger, like when i first start noticing people as attractive and they would make me all excited an stuff (maybe 8/9?) to about the age of 15, and then with a lot of deprogramming from there, i used to be someone who said i never found Asian men attractive. that i find just about everyone else attractive, but Asian dudes. and i know we’ve seen posts about how Asia is really a geographic distinction and it is, but for the purpose of the post on race and desirability, i am using it as a race. so yea, i used to say oh i don’t find asian guys attractive. i don’t think they are cute. “it’s just a preference.” and that was perfectly normal and ok. and though i wouldn’t run around everywhere saying this, when i would have personal convos with friends, they would never flinch or bat an eye, this was perfectly ok.
it took a couple of things for me to realize, well a. how wrong saying this and believing this way and also b. how wrong in general i was, that there are plenty of attractive asian men. well the first was getting old enough to realize as a Black girl, i had heard this all the time. i just don’t like Black girls, nothing personal, it’s just a preference. or the backhanded compliment, you’re pretty for a Black girl. and i started seeing how much that made me feel terrible, made me hate on myself, or wish to be something other than i was. how often i was rejected despite the person i was simply because the idea was, Black girls are not attractive. one thing about sinking into depression was i did start thinking about those truly deep hurt feelings more and more and it was also terrible to think i was doing that to someone else.
another thing was having a young Cambodian boy have a huge crush on me and be friends with me and walk me from school to where i needed to go to pick up my sister. he was a sweetie and from the town i’m living now, cute and had brown skin like me. we had somewhat of a language barrier because he came here when he was young and english wasn’t his first language, but we still communicated. and i appreciated that he protected me. he didn’t treat me like some kind of object because i was a Black girl, he just really liked me. nothing ever came of this as i was with another boy, but he was a friend. i had many asian girl friends growing up but not many boy friends after my crushing age. and this had opened me up to like the possibility that i was being small minded. that i never liked being called ugly by default and i was doing that to a group of boys who really were not a monolith and came in so many different shades and from so many different backgrounds.
and as i got older and kept that idea in mind, really i stopped grouping these men together as some sort of undesirable group by default, mostly based on the desexualized and fucked up U.S. context of how Asian and Asian American men are depicted in the media/as a stereotype in society. we all grow up inhaling all kinds of fucked up ideas and notions that have become norms and acceptable in society and when it comes to attractiveness and desirability, there are lots of fucked up messages we all receive. aside from massive body shaming and fat shaming and the constant showing of only “able” bodies, one thing the media constantly does is to desexualize Asian men and also Black women (tho we are also hypersexualized in many aspects, their are still many tropes of the asexual Black woman or the just pure unattractive Black woman, usually fat and dark, but this trope still takes affect in many Black womens lives). we are constantly viewed as the ugly ones, the unsexy ones, the unwanted ones. while i don’t know of any research that was done to uphold this point for Asian men like the report stating Black women are just scientifically the ugliest about a year ago, their is still plenty of evidence of the way we portray Asian men.
so i guess now when i hear all this “it’s just a preference” bullshit not only does it hurt me, but it also reminds me of my own foolishness. my own inability to see how preference can and is shaped by what society often deems attractive. and this is still a challenge. to me, both dark skinned Black men and women (not trying to erase anyone outside the gender binary) are beautiful but i still know that their just something that has been beamed into me, absorbed into me, that doesn’t even acknowledge those two on the same level sometimes. like we constantly show and portray dark skinned Black men as much more attractive. and even this can be fetishizing, all these ideas of dark Black men and sexuality. but then dark skinned Black women are portrayed as unattractive or sex objects to be dehumanized. and that’s fucked up. and it takes a literal conscience effort to sit there and deprogram yourself from that. like looking at pictures of people and recognizing that little urge to look away or move on is not that person, but rather something embedded in you that has been taught and learned and has to be unlearned. realizing part of me was not seeing the beauty in Black women of all shades because of my own self-doubt and hate and lack of love for my self-image. and also because Black women, dark skinned especially, have been degraded and downplayed and abused and talked down upon has put the ugly images of society upon them. by no fault of their own, this white supremacist society throws its inner ugly on those who are really way more beautiful than those people could ever realize.
i mean, for me, this is a personal post on my thoughts and my experiences. and if any of my terminology, phrasing, is shitty, please call me out. but i’ve been thinking about this for awhile and examining myself and my own thoughts and how that shitty ass idea that certain people are just wholesale ugly and outside of our range of attractiveness even came to be inside myself or any others. and why that bothers me but also how i have been conflicted there. some thoughts.
The boldness is mine for emphasis, because this is something that I also have to work on.