Sunday, April 7, 2013

How to Tell Asians Apart

Act #97:  Give her a second glance.

Over the years, I've been cordial about this.  I've shrugged it off as well-intended and innocent.  When people told me I looked like Kristi Yamaguchi, I tried to find humor in the situation.  Every time someone told me I reminded them of their Asian daughter-in-law it didn't phase me too much.    I've tried to see things from other people's perspectives, but you know what?  It's beginning to feel not OK and just a tad insulting that so many individuals so easily get me confused with the only other Asian girl in the room.

Most recently people have been repeatedly getting me mixed up with a 21 year old college student, whose mother happens to be Asian (Filipina).  Granted, I won't lie there is a small part of me that is flattered. My current doppelganger is not only 20 years younger than me, but she is also a reigning beauty queen who competed in Miss Kentucky last year. 

Some background, if I may:  For 9 years I worked at a small liberal arts college in a town with an Asian population of less than 1% - if you don't count the student body itself.  For the first few years of my employment people used to get me mixed-up with another younger graduate (only 4 years this time) whose mother was Thai, and who was the daughter of the former international student advisor.  Then about 7 years into my employment a cute, young bi-racial gal from West Liberty, KY entered as a freshman and my life would never be the same.  Students began stopping me to tell me that I was their favorite resident advisor, that I had a pretty voice, that I did a great job last night.  I have since left my position at the college and this young lady is about to graduate, but apparently she's still confusing the heck out of people.  Yesterday we both attended my alma mater's presidential inauguration and three (yes really three) trustees began engaging her in conversation, completely thinking she was me.  How are you enjoying your new job?  We sure do miss you around here.

While it is true that our ancestors have blessed many of us with stick, straight black hair just to confuse the masses, here are a few tips to tell us apart.  We use these very same tips to tell you guys apart.

Take notice of our varying hairstyles. You know, long, short, layered, cropped, etc. Alert:  some of us even have wavy hair and (gasp) some of us also color our hair.

Hear us talk.  Hailing from Eastern KY, my doppelganger has a rich southern accent while I have the most non-descript mid-western accent in the world.

Look deep into our souls.  While our eyes might throw you off, believe it or not, they don't all slant in the same exact degrees.  Some are oval, almond, varying shades of brown, some deep black.  Also, with the two decades of life that I have over my doppelganger, you will note the added creases and crevices surrounding my eyes.

Check out our dimensions.  Yes, I'm giving you permission to take note of our bodies, but not in a creepy Asian-fetish way.  My doppelganger is a few inches taller than me and a good 15 pounds lighter than me.

We don't all dress alike.  Yesterday, my doppelganger was volunteering to set-up for the festivities and was wearing a comfortable sweatshirt and jeans.  For the record, when I get invited back to campus for a historical event at my alma mater with seating in the first lady's section, I typically kick it up a notch.  I even broke out the heels yesterday.  If you see a future Miss Kentucky in a ball gown all glamoured up, it's probably not going to be me.

Assess your surroundings.  If it appears odd that for a 40-year old former employee to be running around in jeans and a sweatshirt, putting up balloons and setting up tables, it probably is.

Note: These tips can also be used to distinguish between various African-Americans, Hispanics, gay men, and people over the age of 70.  Does not typically apply to new-born humans, who are generally all hairless and wrinkly and have not yet developed accents.


No comments:

Post a Comment