Mochi Magazine: A Voice for Asian American Girls

It's no secret that I'm Asian.

If it was to you, well... surprise!

I grew up the American-born daughter of two very amazing Korean parents who grew up in the US but spent their early-late childhoods in Korea. They've always been very rational and worked very hard to give me a different sort of childhood than the one they experienced. I grew up fairly sheltered and went to nice schools with a lot of diversity and accelerated learning programs. I was very fortunate. Growing up though, it has always been a struggle to figure out how the Asian and Korean parts of me play into my identity. When you don't see a lot of people that look like you in stories like books and movies and TV, it's hard to place that part of yourself within your own mind: what's stereotype and what's true? There's a desire to be like the others and honor your culture, but then there's a desire to be "you" and not be ordered around by some idea of Asianness that America didn't seem to fully understand, and as a result, neither did I. 

It was an on-going minicrisis, and still is, in terms of my identity. I had a lot of learning and unlearning to do. It's hard to be told to be someone you're not, but it's a different kind of struggle to be told to be someone you're not quite sure you are. To this day, I know there are certain ways I can't dress if I want people to assume I can speak English (isn't it crazy to think that that's a concern?). I also know that there is a significant extent to which my outward sexuality and womanhood is directly tied to my race, so a factor in assessing any guy coming on to me is whether he wants to be around me because I'm me, or because I'm an asian chick who will supposedly fulfill his Lucy Liu/Memoirs of a Geisha/Gotta Catch 'Em All fantasies about dating an Asian girl. And you can say those guys are stupid and that I shouldn't be bothered by a few idiots, but the fact is, it's not a few idiots. It's a lot of idiots who sometimes happen to have a lot going for them outside their racial stupidity.

There's this fear of betraying your people by playing into a stereotype and reinforcing the giant wad of misshapen schemas that inhabit some people's minds, but another fear of abandoning your culture-- a culture that sometimes doesn't feel like it really belongs to you at all, because you grew up in America and your grasp on your parents' first languages is as fleeting and thin as a spider's web. Sometimes, it feels like you're working through it alone because it's hard to find other voices like yours to build a community with. As a person of color, we are often the middle children of the public eye, not getting the visibility we deserve-- unless something like an act of mass violence happens, or if Hollywood needs a bunch of terrorists, gang members, or confused natives to fill their screens. Or, in recent news, if an intern wants to be a giant a$$ about an airline tragedy. We're rarely portrayed as "person" or "man" or "woman" but this character who needs to hit certain points on a checklist in order to be a "believable" character of color. And it's true that our different experience brings something to the table-- but it's not always exotic sex dynamo or wise mystic or martial arts master or subject matter expert who side-kicks along to a daring, usually white, hero.

A few months ago, I discovered Mochi Magazine. It's a magazine dedicated to being a positive influence on Asian American girls, giving them a voice, and talking about everything from fashion/beauty to the robust diversity of our experiences. Their latest issue is their Fearless issue, and it's pretty badass! For all those Asian girls out there, trying to find voices like theirs in the wide world, I definitely recommend checking it out. If you're not Asian, I still recommend checking it out. I think that for way too long we've been sort of subtlely (and sometimes, not at all subtlely) brainwashed as Americans into thinking the universal experience is the one as penned by middle to upperclass white people-- but there's a lot of diversity of experience we need to be exposed to if we are to live with respect and compassion for those with different life experiences than us. 

Mochi is very well-written and the content is amazing. The new issue has some great articles like Party Planner Jung Lee's Tips on Throwing the Ultimate Brunch, Making The First Move: Four Girls Share Their Stories, An interview with Boxer Dara Shen on facing fear, Summer Reading: New Asian American Authors We Love, and A Creative Girl's Guide To the Weekend: 5 Fun Ideas Beyond Partying.

You'll be coming back for more Mochi, so you'll want to smack it into your favorites bar-- right alongside Her Campus William & Mary! (Right? Right.)