Sad Asian Girls Club strive to break stereotypes against women
My friend used to hate her own body. Growing up, her mother would often make snarky remarks about her physical appearance and weight:
“Why are you eating so much? You need to cut down.
Your face is so round.
You’re getting fat.”
This type of unwanted commentary, though harsh, almost seems like a normal occurrence for a lot of Asian American women with immigrant parents. The video, “Have You Eaten,” visualizes the experience. In it, an off-screen voice openly criticizes two women as they try to eat food at the dinner table.
The project was created by Rhode Island School of Design students, Olivia Park and Esther Fan. Together, they make up the Sad Asian Girls Club, an art collective that is giving a voice to Asian-American girls who are struggling to fit into the mold created by both Western society and Asian society.
Through their projects, Park and Fan have created a community to allow Asian women to openly discuss issues revolving around racism and feminism.
Their manifesto states, “We openly comment on a variety of issues such as body image, fetishization, colorism, queer exclusion, intersectionality and other subjects within the context of living as Asian women as well as provide representation for different types of Asian women.”
Their second piece, for instance, invited Asian women to finish this sentence: “All asian women are not ______.”
Of the various online submissions they received in response, 100 were made into posters and hung on a public building for drivers and passerbyers to see. They highlighted some of the most well-known stereotypes surrounding Asian women today, many of which are are perpetuated by the media.
According to New York-based writer Jessica Hagedorn, author of “Asian Women in Film: No Joy, No Luck, Asian women [have been] portrayed as “silent suffering doormats [or] dragon ladies – cunning, deceitful, sexual provocateurs.”
A prime example of this is seen in the 1987 film, “Full Metal Jacket,” which features a scene involving a Vietnamese sex worker saying “Me love you long time,” to a white U.S. soldier.
Close to three decades after the film’s release, jokes surrounding the phrase still endure and mainstream media continues to alienate Asians even though they are the fastest-growing minority group in the United States. In fact, according to the U.S. Census projections, the number of Asian-Americans is expected to grow by 128% between now and 2060.
By utilizing their online presence and various social media sites, Park and Fan hope to put these harmful stereotypes to rest by encouraging Asian women to break the culture of “silence and passivity.”
“We want this club to keep growing and for our audience to continue educating themselves another…”
“We encourage other Asian women to speak up within their personal environments and provide a voice for those who can’t.”
On May 21st, they announced on their Facebook page that their next project will be a video series regarding the model minority myth among stereotypes as well as the effect of the standards enforced by both Western and Asian culture with videos consisting of interviews conducted with 15 Asian women.