Levels of Asian-ness

Fobby fashion, imported from Korea!
Fobby fashion, imported from Korea!

There’s an interesting thing that happens to us Asians in the western world. We are stereotyped as perpetual foreigners in the media, but we actually get ‘categorized’ by our fellow Asians, generally into two groups: the Fobby group and the ABC/BBC/CBC group. What are these two groups I will explain.

If you are a fob it means you recently immigrated here from Asia… you are an international student, or been here for a short time. Your style of fashion is most likely different, you prefer to speak your native language and your English is less than great. You find Western culture fascinating but you stick with your own culture for the most part. You tend to be conservative minded, and have traditional values. You love Karaoke. You love to watch Korean, Taiwanese or Japanese dramas and listen to Kpop, Jpop or Mandopop.

If you are an ABC/BBC/CBC, you are American Born Chinese/British Born Chinese/Canadian Born Chinese (If you are Korean or Japanese just replace the letters C with K/J). You were born and raised in Western culture. You are more or less the same as a white person. You speak English fluently and your native language less fluently. You enjoy the same type of culture and values as do Western people. Your sense of fashion is the same as anyone who was born here. You tend to be liberal minded, independent and date out of your own race frequently. You like to watch Dexter, House, The Office, Family Guy, etc. You like to listen to pop, hip hop and rap.

Thing about me, is I’m neither of those two groups. I’m in between… the rare type of Asian who was born in Asia and raised in Western society. What does that make me? Half and half? I feel awkward hanging around my CBC friends, and I feel awkward hanging around my fobby friends. I speak English fluently, and Mandarin semi-fluently. I enjoy both types of culture. My sense of fashion trends towards the fobby side, but not completely. I guess my hairstyle reflects this… I hate having the same short spiky hair as other people who grew up here, nor do I have the long permed, waxed hairstyle of kpop singers. It’s medium length and I love my side swept bangs! I also don’t go crazy on dyeing my hair like most fobs; I’ve dyed my hair before but its since gone back to black and I don’t want to keep re-dyeing it. I am socially liberal minded, I listen to all kinds of music, I watch Asian dramas AND western TV shows, yet idealistically I am conservative.

This puts me at odds against myself in some ways. Maybe I can’t decide for myself whether I am Western or if I am Chinese. Yes you can call me a Chinese-American-Canadian and I guess that will reflect just how diverse I am as a person. Whether or not you are in the same situation as me, I still want to hear your thoughts on this! So please comment! 😀



如果你是后者,所谓‘ABC/BBC/CBC’,那意思就是American Born Chinese (美生的华人)/British Born Chinese (英生的华人)/Canadian Born Chinese (加生的华人)。你基本上是个老外,因为你对西方文化很熟悉。你的英语很流利,不过你的中文有可能不善。你或多或少与西方人享受相同的文化和时尚感。你的思想比较开放,你重视独立,并会看上自己民族以外的人。你也喜欢看美国电视秀,也听美国流行音乐 (嘻哈,说唱之类的)。

关于我自己的形式,我可不属于这俩组,而是我夹在中间了。我是中国出生的,加拿大养的男孩。可以说一半一半。我的英语比我的国语流利。我喜欢中国文化,也喜欢西方文化。 我的时尚感往往走向’fobby’的一面,而且我发型是中等长度的。我的思想比较自由,开放的。我喜欢听各种音乐类型,喜欢看亚洲电视节目和西方影片。可是某些方面是对自己有矛盾的。。。也许我决不断到底是中国人还是西方人。无论我是中国人或是西方人呢,我觉得自己的背景和观点是挺多样的。



7 responses to “Levels of Asian-ness”

  1. Stephanie Avatar

    I am very much an ABC. I was born here and spoke Chinese and English growing up. Now, my Chinese is sufficient for everyday life, but not as fluent as I’d like. I do date outside of my own race (my boyfriend is Eastern European), but if I’ve been attracted to Asian guys and would be willing to date an Asian guy if this relationship doesn’t work out. However, I do enjoy some Asian music, and I don’t like short, spiky hair. (I would comment about fashion, except I haven’t a clue what fashion is like these days.)

    I think the correct answer for you is to just forget about trying to fit in somewhere, and just have extreme confidence that you and what you like are awesome. Take what you like from both cultures and be the best of both. I personally find that I am quite western (having grown up here among very few Asians), but there are some Asian values that I really appreciated growing up with. The most important thing is to have self-confidence. Then this whole dilemma will go down the drain in a wave in indifference.

  2. Ren Avatar

    Interesting blog post! And FOB stands for “Fresh of the Boat” am I right? I am an Asian too but I am not fully Chinese. I am of mixed race. I am half Malay-Chinese and half Japanese-Indonesian.When I am in my country, people always mistaken me as either Chinese or a Pan-Asian girl. When I visit the middle-east, people thought I was Filipino. When I visit the States, people thought that I was either Chinese or Filipino, and sometimes, Korean <—- I don't know why.

    I guess I am a FOB although my fashion sense, my choice of language and the music I listened to place me in ABC/CBC category. I don't really enjoy Karaoke though. I am pretty much conservative.

    As for dating, I don't mind dating any other race. I am currently not seeing anyone right now but previously, I was dating an Asian guy. Never tried dating white guys before. I find it hard to "woo" them. :p

  3. Tong Zou Avatar

    That’s interesting! You have the blood of four cultures in you which is pretty amazing. And yes thats what FOB stands for, :P.

  4. Krystal Avatar

    I’m just like you. I was boring in China then moved to the UK when I was 6 years old. I have spent majority of my life in the Western society and have become part of it. I do still have my Chinese side and traditions. I’m exactly like you actually. I like both culture, fashion, tv & music. I have dyed my hair brown which is a fobby thing to do but also western at the same time. I like being part of both cultures. I think that makes it unique from others.

    I don’t think western born asians should forget about their own heritage or culture. I believe they should take in their own culture as well as the western culture. It’s nice to be part of both.

    Western fashion is very similar to asian fashion now. Many of the clothes I find in stores follow korean fashion nowadays. It’s like the western and eastern worlds are become one.

  5. Jenny Avatar

    You don’t have to be apart of neither groups if you don’t identify with FOB types or ABC types. You can make up your own category because the person who made up these two categories of Asians were probably someone just like you (who made them experts, anyways? We’re all diverse in our own ways.)

    I was born and raised in the US. I’m multiracial and I consider myself Asian. My mother is Vietnamese and Mexican (or Puerto Rican, we don’t know exactly… lol), while my father is Chinese, Vietnamese, Cambodian AND Thai (his father is half and his mother is half). A lot of people have confused me to be Puerto Rican before, while others thought I was half black and Japanese (my skin tone is light, so they probably thought that because of my hair).

    With that being said, I have to say I’m more of a Westernized Asian. I guess I can understand the appeal of Japanese and Korean culture, and their music just because I was once at that stage when I was 14. At the time, I really wanted to understand the appeal of the culture just because both my brother and cousin were into Anime. So I searched for an Anime for girls (I really did, there’s still a question I posted on Yahoo Answers asking for recommendations) and watched Peach Girl, and I loved it. Then I read a lot of mangas online.

    My taste in everything completely changed when I was 15, and now especially being a 17 year old. I was never into the whole hair thing with FOB asians just because I don’t have that type of hair to do so. I’m more into afros and kinky hairstyles.

    And my first language is Vietnamese so I can speak fluent Vietnamese. The only thing is, I can’t speak Vietnamese formally so I never like speaking Vietnamese with anybody besides my family.

    I think what helps is that we all must understand that we can be who we really are, and not try to abide to what people want us to be or think that we are.

  6. nyuu Avatar

    lol I saw a whole bunch of Kanji and I wanted to run away XD; hehe

    Umm I’m born here in the states so I can relate what you mean, but from a different birth place lol. When I took an Asian American Class it was discussed that Asian Americans have it quite hard; especially, second generations (like me) because our parents were born somewhere in the East so naturally when they moved here their mind are still set on traditional values mostly. And when they have kids in the states the kids are stuck between two worlds. I don’t fit into the american group nor do I fit into the “fob” group because no matter what when I’m with a group of american people they view me as too asian and vice versa: when I’m with the “fob” group they view me as too americanized. But it’s actually the “fob” group that always comment how americanized I am. It is quite frustrating because it makes me feel like I don’t fit in. But I’m not “white washed” I just don’t agree with a lot of the traditional values.

    All of a sudden I remember the handful amount of papers I wrote bashing Confucians’ view on women lol XD

  7. Amanda Avatar

    Hmmm… interesting blog post. I secretly enjoyed the stereotypes listed above because they made me laugh. But my gosh, the stereotypes and how they run true! I guess despite your social/cultural confusion, isn’t it kind of nice that you kind of have a choice between how Chinese vs Western you’d like to be?

    Personally, I was born in Taiwan and then moved to New Zealand at age 6. To everyone here, I’m pretty much white except that I look asian. And ironically, I can speak and read Chinese as if I had attended school in Taiwan beyond a fraction of year one. I also understand hokkien/Taiwanese and very basic Japanese, but that’s about where my asian-ness ends. I guess I’m lucky in the sense that my mum’s a pretty liberal person, in the sense that she’s not super fob-ishly strict and actually prefers a lot more “western” rather than “asian” parenting and social views.

    I only have the odd asian friend here and there but all the friends I actively hang out with are white. So is my boyfriend. I’ve never meant for it to be that way, but i’ve only ever dated white guys. To be honest, a lot of asian guys aren’t attracted to me beyond face, t&a because apparently i’m “too tall, too athletic, too outspoken”, etc… so basically i don’t fit the general “good girl, cutesy asian girlfriend” stereotype. I also tend to feel awkward around those asian social groups as well, and I guess in a way a little rejected? I suppose i have NOTHING in common with them apart from the fact that we were originally from asia. Ahh so. Yeah.

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