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Asianfishing: what it is and when the line is crossed

For the second time In six months, pop artist Ariana Grande faced charges of “Asianfishing” and yellowface. In April, she ccelebrated the debut of its REM makeup line at Ulta by post a photo on instagram showing his sporty elongated eyes, almost monolidded and unusually clear skin. While many fans were quick to to encourage Grande’s new look, others were fast for criticize her for Asian fishing, or imitating Asian characteristics as a style choice.

This isn’t the first time Grande has been accused of impersonating a different race. The singer has been called many times to embrace black and latina cultureso much so that she spawned her own Category of memes. (It should be noted here that “Asianfishing” is derived from the term “black fishingwhich was coined by Wanna Thompson to address white people who take advantage of black culture and beauty.)

But Grande’s racially ambiguous take on East Asian aesthetics is part of a relatively new trend — adopting Asian physical features to obtain an ethnically ambiguous, vaguely “exotic” look.

How the Asian and ethnically ambiguous appearance became “cool” in the West

Beauty techniques and products from Asia have been popular abroad for several years now, but the trend of physically resembling an Asian person has only recently gained momentum.

“Our team of AAPI women and plastic surgery allies noticed the recent resurgence of ‘fox eye’ among Western social media influencers in early 2021,” Waverley He, a new resident in plastic surgery that studies the intersection of cosmetic surgery and racial diversity, HuffPost told HuffPost. Since April 2018, Google’s interest in the term “fox eye,” a cosmetic procedure or makeup that creates a slanted eye shape, has roughly doubled. The same goes for the phrases “eyebrow lift” and “eyebrow surgery”, which refer to a procedure designed to raise the eyebrows and widen the space of the eyelids.

“As Asian women continue to face discrimination and harassment related to their characteristics, I am reminded that despite the fashion for almond eyes, Western standards of culture and beauty dominate.”

– Waverley He

While elongated eyes and hoodless eyelids are not exclusively Asian traits, the overall effect of non-Asians adopting these features creates an ethnically ambiguous look that is both racially and disconnected from the cultural origins of the aesthetic.

Several experts HuffPost spoke to cited the global rise of K-pop, as well as the prevalence of social media, as key factors in the West’s fascination with Asian aesthetics. “Pop culture has changed our idealization of beauty standards,” said plastic surgeon Dr. Kimberly Lee.

Lee also noted that in recent years, Asians have shown an increased interest in looking, well, Asian. “In the past, there was interest in westernizing Asian faces because it was considered desirable. However, over time, most patients seek to preserve their ethnicity while improving their appearance,” said Lee. “These characteristics are what make us all unique, but are also considered exotic and attractive.”

When do you cross a line in Asianfishing?

Because Asians aren’t a monolith — the umbrella term “Asian American” encompasses around 50 different ethnic groups, for example — it can be hard to clearly delineate when someone is adopting an “Asian” look. Even in the case of Grande’s controversy, netizens defended the pop star and argued that those who said she looked Asian were the racists, not her.

And Grande’s advocates are sort of right: There are a million different ways to “look Asian,” and it might seem simplistic to claim that a brightened complexion and a swipe of eyeliner is enough to make Grande appear. Italian-American, raised in Florida. From East Asia.

“It looks like western society has decided that trick eyes and brow lifts are ‘Asian,'” said Anna Ling, model and creative director of Maruchi House.

But while there’s no objective threshold for when something becomes Asian peach, ignoring the public outcry over appropriation perpetuates Asians’ longstanding issues with erasure in the United States.

“Dismissing racial motivation only reinforces the fact that much of the racism and microaggressions that we face as Asians are largely unknown or invisible to the general population,” said fashion journalist Melissa Magsaysay. and beauty who directs content for Thirteen Moon, an e-commerce site promoting beauty brands by people of color. “Telling an Asian person that mimicking our eyes isn’t racist, it’s the same kind of gaslighting we’ve endured on all levels for so long.”

Additionally, he noted that “although those seeking an ‘ethnically ambiguous look’ may be motivated by cultural or aesthetic appreciation, I would consider the impacts of these trends on minority populations rather than the intentions of mainstream adopters”.

Asian fishing and anti-Asian hate crimes are both on the rise

For many Asian Americans, it is difficult to see Asian features becoming fashionable as anti-Asian stigma and violence continue largely unchecked in the USA

According to He, the exoticism of Asian women in the United States dates back to the Page Act of 1875, which prohibited Asian women from entering the country on the pretext that they were prostitutes and laborers. Centuries later, prejudice against Asian women as foreigners persists. At a time when a growing number of Asian Americans – particularly Asian women — report being victims of hate crimes, the idea that non-Asians gain cultural cachet for the same traits that people of color are penalized for can spark anger and disillusionment.

“As Asian women continue to face discrimination and harassment related to their characteristics, I am reminded that despite the fashion for almond eyes, Western standards of culture and beauty dominate,” he said. .

“Historically, we’ve been celebrated for some things, but ignored, criticized and stereotyped for other things,” Magsaysay said. “Choosing what suits you from a whole people is not only hurtful, it perpetuates the idea that we are not considered or useful in our wholeness and beauty.”

Ethnicly ambiguous beauty trends are a far cry from the murderous attacks on Asian Americans. But as Stacy Lee Kong argued in a recent newsletter, “it’s hard not to think about how these different types of dehumanization inform each other.” In order to imagine a future where Asians are free from racist threats and discrimination, the humanity of Asian peoples must be accepted in its entirety – and not just as fragmentary tendencies that lack a deeper cultural understanding. deep.

“There will always be a group of people who imitate, but do not appreciate culture, heritage and traditions regarding beauty,” Ling said. “However, as…beauty standards become more diverse, I hope more people can appreciate and identify with the ‘new’ mainstream trends. I want to see Asians as part of the situation in as a whole rather than as a guarantee of excellence for others.

Magsaysay echoed his view. “We look beautiful in our wholeness at all times, not just when it’s most convenient,” she said.

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