Right. And the Asian image is always “otherized,” judged in relation to whiteness—which is seen as default, the starting point.All of this hit home for me one day when I was still living in Portland. I went to New York to do all these collaborations with bloggers. It was a week long, and I had a week’s worth of random experiences, but when you come back from a work trip you have to give the sparknotes to your coworkers. So I had this recital in my head, but it didn’t occur to me that all the women I had set up meetings with were Asian. But one of my coworkers was like, Henry, you can’t just work with one group of people. And I was like, oh, my god—that’s funny, I never even thought about it, they’re all Asian. And we all laughed. But if I went to New York to work with five, stunning, powerful, influential white fashion bloggers, the topic of their racial sameness would have never come up. They’re just women, it’s neutral. But now that I’ve worked with five exclusively Asian women, it’s like suddenly diversity feels needed, because five of Asian is just five of one thing. And it would’ve been the same if I went to New York and met only five Black women. I didn’t even realize that I’d viewed white as neutral for so long. Creating this hyper-Asian image of myself is just a genuinely strong reaction I’ve had to feeling like we’re supposed to ignore color.
Are you dating right now? How are you navigating your romantic life and relationships?
When it comes to dating I’ve been pretty damn confused. Every guy I’ve ever liked was white, or white-looking, and every guy I’ve ever slept with has definitely only been white. I could say those are the people that I’ve been attracted to, but no, obviously I pursued them and chose not to pursue certain people. Now I go on dates and almost always look out for a guy’s history of only having Asian boyfriends.
Like, if a white guy is talking to an Asian guy, does he only date Asians?
What if you are attracted to me, and you’ve been attracted to an Asian guy before? What if you really do find Asian guys attractive? I find white guys attractive. But for some reason it bothers me. It makes me feel like I’m just another one. I don’t want to feel my race all the time. I’m tired of it. I ask for it, obviously, with the way I portray myself. But when I’m dating you, it would be nice to feel like I’m me, and you’re you, instead of having to feel subtle cues that remind me of, oh right, he loves anime or whatever.