Growing up as an Asian Woman in a Nosy Society

Would you believe me if I told you my self-confidence was shattered as early as Kindergarten? Being an Asian girl in a predominately-white elementary school was excruciatingly painful. Throughout the years, I received a non-stop bombardment of questions. “Why don’t you look like your parents?” “Do you miss your REAL family?” “Why were you adopted?” Aside from being blatantly racist, they were also outright rude. Who are you to question my family and my past? Each question started with the same sentence: “Not to be rude, but...” If you know the question is rude, why ask? Why prioritize your curiosity over my dignity? You are not entitled to an answer, nor my autobiography.

To answer your thoughts: I am adopted. I was adopted at 8 months, too young to remember anything; although, I swear I remember the plane ride to the United States. Adoption is not scary; it is the process of taking a child out of one scenario and placing them into another, usually one better than the last.

As I entered middle school, I realized I didn’t look like the rest of the girls in my class. I didn’t have porcelain skin with long, flowing blonde or brown hair and a slender frame to match. I was a petite Asian girl with thick framed glasses and a bowl cut that would put Coconut Head from Ned’s Declassified to shame. I fell asleep night after night wishing that I was white so the snide comments would stop. I received backhanded compliments such as “You don’t have Chinese eyes; they’re not squinty” and “You’re tan for a Chinese person”. So because I do not fit your stereotype of an Asian woman, I am more physically appealing? I am too pretty to be Asian, but not pretty enough to be white? Why should I be apologetic for my appearance? If anything, you should be apologetic for your behavior and attitude.

My name is not “Ling Ling." It is Camden; bright and beautiful like the baseball field I am named after. I will no longer back down from your insults; you do not intimidate me. You will not dictate my feelings toward my ethnicity and appearance. I pity you. Your close-mindedness has shielded you from a beautiful and diverse nation. Sooner or later, you will come to terms with the fact that our country is no longer defined by one race and one way of thought. Until then, I can only hope that you do not put another girl through the hurt that you put me through.

Sincerely,

A proud Asian woman