Sunday, October 16, 2005

On being Asian

In America, I frequently found people telling me various things.
"Asian hair is different and therefore more difficult to cut than white hair."
"90% of Asians are lactose intolerant, so you'd better watch how much milk you drink."
"Asians produce more earwax than other people." etc etc.

Invariably this was told to me by a white person. What I want to know is, why the hell didn't I know that Asian hair, Asian ears, Asian lactase enzymes are different than other people's? I am Asian, shouldn't I know? What the hell's wrong with me for not knowing? And most importantly, how the hell do random white people know more about the details of Asian physiology than me?

Perhaps instead of that talk your parents are supposed to have with you about sex, they should sit down with their kids and have "So you're Asian" talk and all that this entails.


nien said...

wow. i didn't know about any of that stuff either. hey, gimme your friend's email, i wanna learn more.

we can also compile all these facts and write a book. that would be perfect! you're good at writing and i have nothing to do! let's do this!

lovelesscynic said...

actually this is usually told to me by doctors and hair dressers. maybe you could start asking doctors about it, it would be fun though. It would have to be in America though because here if I asked doctors about that they would probably be like, "Produce more earwax than who?"

Daniel said...

Or in Yunnan province, they would say, "Wow, foreigners have ear wax too? Foreigners drink milk? Who would have guessed"?

Laurel said...

I have never heard the earwax thing. I am suspicious of it.

Well, I have heard the lactose intolerant statistic, but the way I heard it is that white people are the only group of people who have been stupid enough throughout history to drink milk, and therefore have the lowest incidence of lactose intolerance currently (and people of Nordic decent have the lowest incidence overall), but that really most people in the world are lactose intolerant (including a lot of white people) because milk isn't really that good for humans anyway.

I don't think Asian hair is more difficult to cut, I think that most white hairdressers are never taught to cut anything other than white hair, because of the general assumption of the white norm. Actually, most hairdressers (in my experience) pretty much only know how to cut straight, fine, white person hair, and can't even do a very good job on hair like mine. Conclusion? Most hairdressers suck.

disreputable bird said...

A sansei doctor once told me that extra earwax helps protect against swimmer's ear. He didn't say it was an Asian thing, tho.

talica said...

I'm awfully late to this discussion, but here goes. For the hair drama, I think blacks have it just as bad or worse than Asians, because I've heard all this stuff like "black people don't like to swim because it messes up their hair", black women who spend a lot of time straightening their hair so it looks more "white" and then you have that whole thing about "good" hair vs. "bad" hair.
The earwax thing is squiggy, IMHO. I suppose it could be a genetic trait (I think lactose intolerance is - after all, most Asian dishes I can think of don't have dairy products), but a lot of people of other races are lactose intolerant or have lots of earwax. That's why I hate generalizing about groups, because there is always an anomaly. Like saying that girls are bad at math, because I'm not Einstein, but I got top scores on the AP Calculus and Chemistry tests.
Unless it's said in a hostile way, I think that it's sort of a stupidly well-intentioned attempt at racial brotherhood or connectedness, per se. I never really used to think about that stuff, but now I'm living in a dorm where literally 50-75% of the girls on my floor are Asian, so I'm just not looking Asian enough - my hair's too light-colored and voluminous, I'm too big and if I'm standing next to another Asian girl (or girls) at the bathroom mirror my nose, eyes and skin look weird and not Asian-not another race(I don't need to go on, you know what I look like ;)