I woke up this morning, saw this article Retweeted onto my Twitter feed and instantly rushed to my desk to switch my MacBook on and write this post. In it, the topics of being Chinese and/or Asian as well as blogger were raised, concentrating primarily on why bloggers don’t embrace their Asian ‘side’ more. Like with many of these articles, it features a chat with Susanna Lau (Style Bubble) who I must admit I wholeheartedly admire for her ever-present talent, wit, drive, humility and ability to confidently articulate her thoughts that often mirror my own.
Being Asian and being a blogger are not mutually exclusive. Unfortunately for the majority of my life - right through to today - I’ve experienced racism in many forms, from the more extreme (bricks through our windows at home and at my parents’ business) to everyday racial slurs that I’m supposedly okay with, when really, I’m usually exhausted of attempting to correct them kindly and not come across as a pedantic, ‘too politically correct’ gal. You know? Double-edged sword.
“Why haven’t Asian style bloggers embraced race?”
I’m not sure what this question is supposed to ask. Do you want me to look stereotypically Asian and wander around in a qipao? Because we don’t. Do you want me to somehow transport myself to a Chinese village that my ancestors lived in some hundred years ago? Because, I mean at the time of writing, I live in the home we own in Hong Kong. Do you want me to write to my blog audience, who are primarily English speakers, in Cantonese? Because, I mean, I might as well just direct you all to Google Translate.
“'Our interest in [models and style stars] has gotten deeper,” she writes. “We’re not just interested in style, we also want to see them wade into issues of visual and racial identity.'”
When we're asked to embrace race and 'represent our culture', I'd like to believe I'm doing that by existing and just being happy in being Chinese and British. The paper-thin line that exists today surrounding the idea of wading into issues of visual and racial identity eh? Let me share with you a photo from Causeway Bay in Hong Kong. And let me share a secret with you: we also wear jeans and sweaters with ironic slogans on and Stan Smiths and culottes. This is 2016 Asia and, actually, you’ll find much of the time that Asia embraces trends a little way before ‘the West’ does.
Online and offline, I often worry, myself, about how I may or may not represent being first-gen British-born Chinese. We’re the unique generation that have been raised directly in both cultures. I speak fluent Cantonese and fluent English, I went to an Inbetweeners-esque secondary school where I was frequently bullied, I went to Chinese school at the weekend where I learnt to read and write Chinese characters, poring over those nostalgic grid-lined exercise books, I grew up in a family-centric background where my Granny would bring us clothes, toys (the newest Pokemon cards and Beyblades!!) and Pocky after her annual solo holiday. I learnt how to pay my respects to the elderly by bai sun and I learnt chopstick etiquette, I remember my first day at primary school and being told I used my knife and fork ‘wrong’. I learnt to spell and construct sentences in English and I learnt the same in Chinese. I ate siu mai or macaroni with ham for breakfast and experienced cereal for the first time at a primary school sleepover. I’m just going to be completely honest here; being raised in a traditionally Chinese family yet with newly established British roots means I have no idea what many people mean when they want me to ‘embrace race’.
Blogging is such a diverse, usually inclusive, brilliantly minded and freely creative platform and ‘thing’. Articulate, as always. Here I have free reign to share what I please and worry just a step later about what people might think. Bow down to the comments section! Who’s to say that Asian bloggers don’t embrace race? Yet who’s to say that White-British bloggers don’t embrace race? You know?
I feel that I embrace race with every post I create, every photograph I shoot and every word I speak.
Perhaps my outfit posts (rare as they might be nowadays) serve to show readers, Asian or not, which brands are well-cut for petite figures. Perhaps my beauty and skincare posts help Asian women figure out which brands and ingredients work well on Asian skin (typically more elastic, prone to pigmentation from environmental aggressors, light-olive toned) as well as those with a fair, normal skin type. I'm British as much as I am Chinese and, funnily enough, this modern generation of Asians is knocking down the barriers of what it means to be X or Y or Z. I can’t say that I actively write my posts with nuances of ‘am I being Asian enough?’ in the back of my mind. I think, sometimes, that maybe I am enough? I am Asian and I am British and this blog is the most raw and accurate modern-day representation of that that I can offer.
I’d love to know your thoughts on this topic.
I’m going to go and brush my teeth now and wonder if my ‘get ready with me’ routine is Asian enough.