Spotting Yellow Fever on Dating Apps

“Ugh tiny asian girls are so cute”

“I love Koreans… especially you”

“Chinese girls are just my type” 


These are all messages that I have received from strangers on dating apps, usually as their opening line. I’m not sure if they saw these texts as compliments or if these pickups had worked for them before, but they definitely set off my alarm: Yellow Fever Alert!! 


For those of you who haven’t heard of this term, yellow fever is commonly used to refer to people who have a sexual preference or attraction to Asians, generally East Asians. Sometimes this can be seen in what you might refer to as “koreaboos” or “weeaboos,” or just in people who are a little too obsessed with Asian women. All of these messages that I’ve received set off my yellow fever alarm because of the blatant way that they refer to my race, specifically as the reason for why they’re attracted to me. 


Now it is okay to have a preference or a type. We all do! You might prefer brown hair, or tall people, or think glasses are really attractive. What is not okay is basing your preferences on stereotypes that generalize entire races or communities. Often men are not only attracted to me because I’m Chinese, they’re attracted to me because of what they think being a Chinese woman means. They want a tiny, submissive, cute girl because that is what society has told them that Asian women are like. These kinds of stereotypes are problematic and are continually reinforced by people who openly show their yellow fever tendencies. 


While some may think of this as flattering, it has always made me uncomfortable. It’s basically a man saying that the only reason they’re attracted to me is because I’m Asian. And more than that, it’s implying that all Asian women are essentially the same. Asians are already forced to combat the narrative that “we all look alike,” and yellow fever does not help. When you come right out and say that “Chinese girls are just my type,” it makes me question whether you see me as an individual person or just another Chinese girl. Throughout college I have struggled with this identity crisis on dating apps. If I look like every other Chinese girl then what makes me unique? How do I know he likes me for me and that he isn’t just into Asian girls? The superficial nature of dating apps can create feelings of insecurity and doubt, but it’s important to remember that we are more than those six hand selected photos and carefully curated bio that they see. 


When you’re mindlessly swiping right on people you find attractive, maybe ask yourself what you found attractive about them. Was it their smile, their sense of humor, the way they dress? Or was it simply their race? If your attraction is limited to a singular race, especially when you are not that race, you should question why. Where does your preference for this race come from and is it based on any harmful stereotypes? These are questions we should ask ourselves and definitely questions we should ask our partners. If someone openly admits that they swiped right on you for your race, that’s generally a big red flag. 


And now I leave you with an important message: Do Not Settle for Yellow Fever!!! You deserve better than someone who only sees you for your race. Our race is an important part of who we are, but it is not everything. And if a person is only attracted to you for your race then they’re probably missing out on all of the other wonderful things that make you unique. So if you’ve ever received messages like the ones I have, unmatch and move on. They aren’t worth your time and they definitely aren’t your soul mate.