Asian Americans have the label “model minority” for good reason. We work hard, persist, and beat everyone at everything (or try to). Our Tiger parents often came to America with nothing, but in a few years time, they established a home with educated children and a stable lifestyle.
Seeing that Asian Americans succeed in so many things – e.g. medicine, law, science, business, and other professional areas – why do we suck so badly in fashion and entertainment? In magazines, tv shows, and movies, I see a cake of Caucasian people, frosted with African Americans and Hispanics, and sprinkled with Asians and other ethnicities. What’s up with that, folks? I know it’s not because we don’t try hard. All my Asians in fashion and entertainment have outstanding work ethic, drive, and marketability.
To answer my questions, I interviewed two lovely Vietnamese American women who happened to be working models. They fall under the labels of model, minority, and model minority. What better candidates to explore why Asians aren’t the shit in media (yet)!
Olivia Hoang says
like this article and your suggestions!
“Asian Americans are pretty much awesome at everything.”
Best opening sentence evar.
Olivia Hoang says
I read your bio tagline as Chim was baked in Berkeley…. O.o
That’s true, I was baked in Berkeley on numerous occasions.
That’s a horrible opening sentence. That implies that all Asians are good– and “non-Asians” are not so great. I’ve always hated comments like this. I would never want to be grouped as “Asian”– I’d rather be my own, and “Asian Americans are pretty much awesome at everything” implies that we’re not individuals and all the good are bad and all the bad are good– because we’re all the same. I’ve met Asians I respect, and I’ve met Asians I want to pound into the ground– obviously not because they’re Asian or not.
Viet In CO says
Very close, but I’d say “… equally awesome ….”.
I welcome your effort to provide insight on Vietnamese Americans in the modeling industry; however, I take serious issue from the first sentence–“Asian Americans have the label ‘model minority’ for good reason.” A blanket assertion that Asian Americans are exemplary in “so many things” negates the fact that a lot of our Southeast Asian American brothers and sisters are not faring as well as what the model minority myth would like to depict. When we lump the entire Asian American community into one monolithic entity and brand it as homogeneously successful, we lose sight of the fact that within this Asian American umbrella are many different ethnic groups that experience huge differences in socio-economic status, educational attainment, historical context, social capital, etc. One suggestion I offer in order to “surpass the barriers built before us” is to stop subscribing to and start denouncing harmful stereotypes such as the model minority myth.
Actually, I will have to agree with all of these comments and say that an amendment needs to take effect immediately.
“Asian Americans are awesome.”
Casey Nguyễn says
@ Van, I think the opening line was supposed to be pun, since this article is about Asian models, two words that don’t come together very often.
JP Graf says
First let me say that I am a photographer and I have worked with Ms. Ly a couple of times. I can personally attest that she is an awesome model and a real sweetheart to work with. I love Judy!
If you substitute the word Jewish American for Asian American in this story is would read exactly the same way. What do Jewish Americans and Asian Americans have in common? Work ethic for one. Height challenged for another. Minority demographic status though is the most telling.
The modelling world will mirror the target demographic. If a magazine or an advertisement is meant to target mainstream America…. well that mainstream is largely Caucasian. I’m sure this will change in another forty years or so, but in the meantime, if you are tall and slender and pretty enough to be a model, then Asia is probably where you want to be. It isn’t bigotry or racism, is it business.