“You never know how much you miss being represented on screen until you actually see what it’s like to be represented.” – Chrissy Teigen
Crazy Rich Asians… A movie that has forever changed my life.
Where do I begin? How do I start one of the most important blog posts that I’ve ever written.
I guess I’ll start by sharing my story.
I was adopted as a very young baby from South Korea by my amazing parents (I’ve touched on this before). They gave me a life filled with unconditional love, never-ending support + a worldly perspective on life. I am their daughter.
But (more recently) I’ve had a lot of introspection.
Time to sit with the concepts of: identity, culture, race. I look back on my childhood + can now connect the dots as to how I’ve gotten here, mentally. And by here I mean… Being able to recognize times when I shrink myself down + try to hide my “Asian-ness”. Times when I feel confused because my identity lies within so many different “faces” if you will.
These faces that I’m referring to are:
- The face of the only Asian friend in the group.
- The face of the young Korean girl at the grocery store with her Caucasian parents.
- The face of the Asian girl who bleaches her hair to hide it’s natural darkness to look more like her friends + the beautiful women she sees as lead actresses. You know, the ones that are worthy of attention, accolades, having a voice.
- I recognize myself in the feeling of, “Oh crap, I just realized that I’m the only Asian person in this room.”
During the start of sixth grade, I remember a boy in my grade would yell a very, very cruel + harsh slang term for Asians across the bleachers as I’d walk in every morning. I remember putting my head down + rushing to sit down so that I didn’t draw any more attention to myself. He did this every day that year. I remember that pit in my stomach having to walk into school every day, knowing that I was going to be called out for my appearance.
This was the start of me realizing that I was “different”. But what was wrong with my appearance? Sure, I had dark hair + a tan complexion… My eyes squint when I laugh and smile. But… What was wrong with that? Sixth grade me didn’t understand (yet) that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
What may have been even more confusing is the fact that I was raised by my caucasian parents – I have a caucasian name, was raised just like any other suburban kid. Went to summer camp + ran around playing cops and robbers with my neighborhood kids at night.
I wasn’t “Asian enough” to fit in with the groups of Asian girls… my deep tanned skin + “white-suburbia” culture made me stand out. But, I wasn’t “caucasian” enough to not be called out any chance that someone could for being the token Asian friend.
Ah, identity… What a confusing topic for me.
Crazy Rich Asians was one of the most spiritually moving movies that I’ve ever seen. I laughed, I cried (a lot), I celebrated. But most of all: I felt seen, I felt heard, I felt understood.
For the first time, I saw people on screen that looked like me.
Lead characters being role played as: beautiful, heroic, worthy, smart, strong, funny, sensitive. I got a peek into the life of what it means to be apart of an Asian culture, something that I didn’t grow up with despite my outer appearance.
For the first time… I felt proud to be a Korean–American.
Wow, that’s so hard to write… so, SO hard to write. But it’s the TRUTH. It’s how I feel. I feel proud to see myself within the story // plot line of that movie. I feel proud, right now… sharing my voice + speaking up for those who may not have the opportunity to.
I want my future children to see themselves in their favorite actors // actresses. I want my future children to know + understand that they are: worthy, beautiful, smart, strong, funny just like all of the characters in Crazy Rich Asians.
I want to live in a world where people don’t generalize // stereotype Asians and Asian–Americans. No, we don’t all “look the same” – those words are so hurtful and cruel. Each person has a unique story, background, culture + identity.
As I looked around the movie theatre at people from all walks of life with tears in their eyes… I realized that Crazy Rich Asians broke down a wall. It gave a voice to something that didn’t know that it needed one: Representation.
So, here’s to the future. Here’s to all of my beautiful Asian–American friends – you are all worthy, enough + powerful.
If you haven’t seen it yet, GO… Better yet, RUN to your movie theatre and see it. I promise that you won’t regret it.
All My Love,