Misinterpretations on Asian Women Caused by the Media

The portrayal of Asian women shown in the media has greatly impacted me since one thing I identify as is an Asian women. I decided to choose the topic Asian women specifically because I was interested in seeing if I could find people similar to myself portrayed as in media. There are many stereotypes that are given to Asian women, so I expected to see many of those findings in my research. The media portrayal of Asian women can sometimes be false, which influences the viewpoint of many people in society.

In the TV series “Fresh Off the Boat”, an Asian American family moves to Orlando, Florida to experience the American Dream. A common stereotype that’s given to Asian moms are the Tiger Moms. A Tiger Mom is an Asian mom who’s very strict with their children about their grades and studies in school. The mother in this show, Jessica, is shown as the crazy Tiger Mom with her kids. She expects no less than an A, and feels as if the school one of her sons go to is not challenging him enough since he easily gets top grades.

What I find interesting is the fact that they make humor out of this stereotype in this show. In other places you will see a Tiger Mom screaming at her children and the children being upset and afraid. However, Jessica isn’t shown screaming at her children although she is upset, and her children aren’t unhappy. In one clip (will post video in blog post) she is shown unhappy with just her son’s ‘A’ on an assignment, but soon her son laughs and uncovers the plus sign next to the ‘A’. Jessica then laughs with relief and hugs him.

Many people are often influenced by the media which cause them to believe that is the typical Asian mom. They think that most, if not all moms, are like this. I’ve been asked many times how I survive with a mom who wants top grades, but I don’t even have a mom who is strict on grades. Or if I do get one of the top grades, past classmates have asked if it’s because my mom would be upset if I got a low grade. Like most other moms, my mom just wants me to have passing grades.

The next thing I looked at was a movie called “My Wedding and Other Secrets”. This movie was set in New Zealand, and it was about a young Asian woman who struggled with her parents’ traditional ways. She fell in love with a White male, which her parents heavily disapproved of. At first, they tried to keep their relationship a secret, but when they decided to get married she told her parents. Her father then goes on saying he’s disowning her, and then her mother says she refuses to attend her wedding.

Asian women wanting to date White men is a stereotype that’s been around for a long time. According to the article “Getting the message: Media images and stereotypes and their effect on Asian Americans”, the author says that ever since Asian women first came to America, they were shown in images servicing White men or dating them (Mok 2016). So it’s no surprise to me that this movie shows that relationship.

Something I’ve noticed is that it’s “normal” for an Asian woman and White man to be in a relationship. However, for an Asian man and White woman to be in a relationship people are shocked. It makes me wonder why that is.

I’ve personally never dated a White man before. However, I’ve had people ask me what type of guy I’d like to end up with in the future. One aspect they asked is if I wanted him to be White. Although I haven’t been asked that question often, I still find it surprising that people assume that a quality I want in a man is that their race has to be White. Because of how often media shows a White man and Asian women relationship, people often assume that Asian women prefer dating White men.

Memes are a huge part of social media, and you can make just about anything into a meme. When I was searching for “Asian women memes” in Google, I immediately notice how many of the memes showed images of Asian women being sexy, exotic, and their young face but older age. Although memes are meant to be humorous, there are some things that can be found offensive.

I relate to the age stereotype of “Asian women look younger than they are”. I’ve been asked many times if I really am 19 years old and not actually 13 years old. Although it’s meant to be funny and it does happen in real life, it’s not always true. Because of memes and most likely other media postings, people are starting to assume all Asian women look younger than their age. Images found in memes are not women who are at the age the person labels them at, but some people do take it seriously.

Another huge thing that’s seen in the Asian women memes are them being sexy or exotic. Since coming toAmerica, Asian women were also seen as giving services to men (mostly White men) whether it was sexual or non sexual (Mok 2016). I think these memes are misleading because not all Asian women have the sexy or exotic image in real life. It’s also upsetting that society views not only Asian women, but women in general as eye candy or sexual objects.

It’s interesting to me that in America Asian women are viewed as sexy and exotic, but in Asia I always see them as “normal”. In Asian dramas and movies I’ve watched, Asian women are portrayed as they would be seen in a day to day basis.

Not only in memes, but movies and TV shows show Asian women as something sexual. What was shocking to me was that some actresses were not even given the chance to audition. For example, “But despite the significant progress – when she started her career 13 years ago, she felt she had no choice but to go up for the masseuses and prostitutes – Chen acknowledged that she never got to audition for principal characters in films. ‘I wish they would open their minds to having Asian Americans lead’”  (Levin 2017). That is completely unfair that some directors would automatically assign a role to an Asian American actress just because she looked like the character the director had in mind. It’s interesting that people form stereotypes from what they see in movies and shows, but it seems that stereotype was already formed before the movie or show was aired.

One huge question I had during my research was how did this affect Asian women on a daily basis? For me, it affected how I dressed or how I wanted to look. When I was younger I was scared of people judging me because of how I’d act because of my culture. So I ended up dressing and looking more “American” based on how Asian American women looked in media. Now that I’m older, I don’t really care anymore.

During my research, I found a study that talked about how Asian women had developed an eating disorder because they were trying to meet society’s standards. They talk about all the “beauty standards” for Asian women that are seen in the media, which causes them to have eating disorders. They mention that Asian women are portrayed as small, petite, exotic, sexy, beautiful, etc. in media. This causes some Asian women to have eating disorders in order to meet the “standards” they want or feel the need to be at (Cheng 2014).

It’s important to realize that although everyone’s different, we can still be affected in similar ways. Because of what’s always being shown in media, most Asian women feel the need to meet the standards that are seen in the media. They also mention that racial teasing also affects Asian women. For example, since Asian women are usually portrayed as petite in movies, if an Asian woman in the real world is actually not a petite frame they get racial teasing. This can also cause them to have an eating disorder in order to meet the beauty standard.

Because of how media portrays Asian women in the media, people will often misunderstand and be influenced from what they see. Stereotypes will always exist. Although I do find some of them to be funny, unfortunately some people do believe what is shown in media are 100% true. The only way to fix this problem is to reduce the amount of stereotypes that are shown in the media.


Learning Moments

What helped me the most was the two worksheets we did for this project. It helped me form my ideas and helped create questions I had throughout my research. However, I really enjoyed learning everyone’s thoughts in our discussion posts. It seemed that we all had similar ideas, but we were still able to give different opinions on our work or the discussion post topic. The study that we read during week 5 was an eye opener for me because it showed the actual numbers and percentages of minorities and the LGBT community in popular films. I had an idea that there weren’t many, but those small numbers were shocking.


Works Cited

A++ – Fresh Off the Boat. N.p., 25 Mar. 2016. Web. 21 May 2017.

Cheng, Hsiu-Lan. “Disordered Eating Among Asian/Asian American Women.” The Counseling Psychologist 42.6 (2014): 821-51. Web.

Levin, Sam. “‘We’re the Geeks, the Prostitutes’: Asian American Actors on Hollywood’s Barriers.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 11 Apr. 2017. Web. 21 May 2017.

Mok, Teresa A. “Getting the Message: Media Images and Stereotypes and Their Effect on Asian Americans.” Cultural Diversity & Mental Health 4.3 (1998): 185-202. Web.

“My Wedding and Other Secrets (2011).” IMDb. IMDb.com, n.d. Web. 21 May 2017.