A few weeks ago, I had a nice chat with my fellow blogging, Asian adoptee friend, Rosita, about the current state of the world, heightened racial tensions in the U.S., disheartening adoption news, and living in a global pandemic. During our conversation, we also talked about our own identity formation in our respective, predominantly-white cities of upbringing as well as our early romantic attraction.
In the video below, I make an embarrassing confession! When I was young, I claimed to find Asian men, for the most part, utterly unattractive. In Middle School, I even went to the extent of inventing a condition I called HAMS. The acronym stood for “homely Asian man syndrome,” which speaks to the universality of my thoughts on the matter. My opinion was, of course, skewed by having an extremely small sample size of Asian men in my orb at the time, virtually no positive media representations of Asian men on mainstream media platforms including T.V., film, celebrities, an ignorance of historical stereotypes, and having internalized all of the external messages I had received over the years about Asian features and Asian men.
It wasn’t until college, when I started surrounding myself with critical thinking Asian people, that I realized how much internalized racism was manifested in this fictionalized HAMS condition. My creation of a syndrome went beyond a physical preferences (on the opposite spectrum of desexualized Asian men, I discuss fetishized Asian women here), and I had to do a lot of de-colonizing of my mind before I could appreciate the Asian men whom I did find attractive.
Though we both have white partners now, in this conversation, Rosita and I ponder what our youth and early romantic experiences would have been like if Asian men had been a predominant demographic in our areas, if Asian men had been celebrated as masculine and desirable, and if our own identities as Asian women had been validated by society.
Watch the full video below: