Although there is still a pretty significant white/black divide in real America — as recent headlines in New York and Ferguson have attested to — there is a movement afoot among the new generation of Americans, aka the social media savvy millennial crowd: a need for diversity. That need has resulted in an overwhelming support for minorities, be it women in tech, latino students in college, portrayal of gays in film and television, people of color in fashion, etc. The latter has been a longstanding problem — fashion catwalks have always been whiter than high tea at the Four Seasons.
So, in an effort to appear diverse (solely for the sake of good PR), fashion companies have begun putting out ads that are meant to represent the cool, diverse, post-racial America. And these ads almost always follow the same formula: white people, usually three to five, along with a lightskin black dude and an Asian girl.
Some bullshit like this, basically.
or this one (I saw in Taipei)
The former is in because, let’s face it, hip hop/street culture has become so ubiquitous and synonymous with cool that black dudes give any brand trying to appear trendy instead “street cred”. They are, sadly, the token black guy. But the latter is in because, well, Asian women have made it in America.
The desirability of Asian woman in mainstream white culture is nothing new. There was that article last year about how, according to online data, Asian women are the most desired in online dating, followed by white men, with black women and Asian men at the bottom. Hell, anyone who’s walked around Manhattan or downtown SF can see that white man/Asian woman couple far outnumber any other type of interracial couples.
So anyway, I’ve been noticing the past few years that all trendy fashion companies follow that same “white dude, white dude, white dude, white chick, white chick, Asian chick, black dude” blueprint. These ads are supposed to make us think, “aw, look, they’re all diverse and progressive and shit. let’s go buy their stuff.”
But wait, what about Asian men? Whereas black and brown women are overwhelmingly underrepresented in these fashion ads, they are in there somewhere. But when’s the last time you saw an Asian dude in these ads? I can honestly only think of one or two, like, ever. And I’ve had to edit my fair share of fashion advertorials the past few years at my job (plus I’m a media/pop culture geek so I read, like, 120 articles a day on pop culture and trends).
This is nothing new, the invisibility of Asian men in American/western culture. And this is something you and I never hear about in protests and Gawker think pieces on social injustice. We hear all the time about how black and brown men are heavily discriminated and scrutinized against in America — and that’s true. I’ll even concede that Asian men probably don’t have it as bad as black and brown men in America, but I resent the notion that we have it “far better”, or that we “don’t know what it’s like,” both of which I’ve been told lately.
Sure, black and brown men — especially the former — are stereotyped by white America as overly sexual, overly dangerous thugs on whom everyone has to keep an eye. Asian men are thrown to the other end of the spectrum. We are asexual, timid, physically weak geeks on whom nobody has to worry about. We may not have a target on our backs like black men, but we are damn near invisible in America, and that is almost as damning. It’s dehumanizing.
And these fashion ads reinforces the point, because even in these “diverse” ads, Asian men ain’t nowhere to be found.
What’s most bothersome is that when I do a google search for articles calling for more diversity in fashion, these articles group Asian men (and black women and latino men) together with Asian women, as if we all have the exact same problem. Nah, Asian women don’t have that problem. They’re in every ad these days. We’re gonna have the Gawker and the new media blogs fighting for black dudes and black women, but Asian men? We stay invisible, because no one gives a damn.
BTW, this last Asian girl needs to do some squats and eat a cheeseburger or two.
Here are a few more pics spotted in Hong Kong. The same formula everywhere.
EVEN LITTLE KIDS.