9 Asian Stereotypes — True Or False?

Growing up hapa in the Deep South, I was often confronted by Asian stereotypes. Because of this, I felt this overwhelming sense of pressure to conform to be the person that they expected me to be. And then, when I found that I didn’t have those particular qualities, I was sometimes let down, as if there was something wrong with me. I feel as if society places so much emphasis on stereotypes. Instead of getting to know you for you, society puts unrealistic expectations on you. They expect you to do certain things, or not do certain things, purely based on how you are perceived. So, in this blog post, I want to either affirm or refute some of the Asian stereotypes that I have been bombarded with nearly my entire life.

A woman sitting on a cliff top with her left hand to her mouth gazing out at the distant mountains. The title of the blog post -- 9  Asian Stereotypes -- is to the right of the woman in a large font size.
9 Asian Stereotypes: True or False?

You are a math wiz

FALSE

I’m afraid that the first one is definitely false. I don’t like math, and most of the time, I barely understand it. I might have managed to pass math with B’s in high school, but that was due to a lot of hard work and extra one-on-one tutoring sessions. In fact, I once nearly failed math class in college, and probably would have done if my professor hadn’t taken pity on me and encouraged me to come see her after class for some assistance. And that was a math class for liberal arts majors, and definitely not calculus or trigonometry.

Looking over the shoulder of a man who is working on a math problem with a pen and paper.
Photo by RF._.studio on Pexels.com

You are short

TRUE

This one could be a matter of perspective. I am short, but I am not the shortest. I am not super short. I stand at just under 5 feet 3 inches tall. The average height for a woman in America is 5 feet 4 inches tall. I am slightly shorter than the average.

A man standing in between two rows of trees with a long white stick. He has the stick planted on the dirt road and he is looking up at it, with one hand on it.
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

You are submissive

FALSE

I am pretty passive. Also, I am not a fighter and I avoid confrontation at all cost. But, there is a difference between being passive and being submissive. I may be passive but I don’t give in easily. I don’t let people take advantage of me. But that is what people assume that Asian Americans let people do to them. They assume that Asian Americans just roll with the punches, try to blend in, and accept the status quo. They assume that Asian Americans won’t fight back because that is what the media taught them to believe.

You must like anime

FALSE

Despite knowing quite a few people who love anime and manga, I don’t like it. I never understood the appeal of the cartoon characters with the huge round eyes and exaggerated facial features. Also, when I first started noticing my friends getting into anime, it was at an age when I started turning away from cartoons, deeming them too childish and immature.

A woman has a manga book open on her lap. She is reading the book.
Photo by Daria Sannikova on Pexels.com

You are wealthy

FALSE

I don’t like talking about money on this blog since it can be such a taboo topic. But I am definitely not wealthy and I didn’t grow up wealthy. And yet, it is a stereotype that people of Asian descent are just rolling in dough. They are either well paid with high tech jobs, or self-sufficient from various investments.

A close up of a man's hand gives a VISA credit card to a female cashier at a check out line.
Photo by energepic.com on Pexels.com

You just like to study all the time

FALSE

If I had a dollar for the number of times that people have assumed this about me, then I would be pretty wealthy. I don’t like to study all the time. Back when I was in school, I was a good A/B honor roll student, but not because I studied all the time. Truth be told, I spent a lot of time writing, reading, and daydreaming, in that order. I always preferred reading fiction over boring tomes of history or science books. Just the thought of those books makes me tired with sleepiness.

An aerial view of a woman sitting at a desk working on her computer. She is surrounded by a few books, one of which is open.
Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels.com

You grew up playing the piano

FALSE

I never learned how to play the piano. Of course, my Korean mother would have loved for me to play, but I never got to take lessons. I’m not sure if I would have been a good pianist. I did used to play the viola when I was a kid for a year, and I think I did alright, despite not being very musically inclined, as mentioned in my previous blog post.

A close-up view of a row of piano keys. You can see the vintage wood on either side of the keys. The photo is in black and white.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Your favorite food is rice

FALSE

Again, this one is false. I don’t mind rice and I do eat it. But it’s definitely not my favorite because it doesn’t have a lot of flavor. It’s like water. It only tastes good when you can eat it with something else.

A plate containing a mound of white rice next to some Indian curry. There is a wooden spoon scooping up some of the curry.
Photo by Cats Coming on Pexels.com

You have a black belt

FALSE

When I was younger, kids would whisper behind their backs, warning each other that I would probably use kung-fu against them. I would just stare uncomfortably because I have never taken any martial arts classes. As mentioned above, I don’t like to fight. I don’t even know how to. The fact that they would use those stereotypes in an attempt to describe me is again another example of the strong influence that the media has on how people are perceived in society.

A woman is jumping in the air doing a karate move. She is wearing white with a black belt. She is outside on an elevated field.
Photo by Caleb Oquendo on Pexels.com

Conclusion

Throughout my childhood, I was often bombarded by these nine stereotypes. Some of them were used as verbal weapons by peers, and some of them were obstacles that I was never able to overcome. They were obstacles that hung over me, almost like a noose suffocating me, even restricting me into being the person that society expected. My purpose for writing this article is to help demolish stereotypes, because at the end of the day, they are just stereotypes. They do not define the person. By letting stereotypes define who someone is we are depriving people from getting to know others. And by continually letting stereotypes define us, racism will always be there, subtly perhaps, but always lurking in an invisible corner. Perhaps one day when we finally cease to be defined by stereotypes, we might just see people as just people.

What is one stereotype that you have been told? Is it true or false?

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Hi! I'm Helen and I am a 31 year old hapa mom raising two multiracial children. I am a writer, English consultant, and social media manager. I am a self-proclaimed chocoholic.

17 thoughts on “9 Asian Stereotypes — True Or False?

  1. People make lots of assumptions about us most usually we find most of them are false. I’ve been told that Asians are very good at playing chess but I don’t think so. Without having an interest in something, I don’t we can always be good at it.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. People have lots of assumptions about me because I am Emirati and I am a uae national. People think that all emiratis are rich and that is true and sometimes it’s not because some are poor. People think that all emiratis have Nissan patrols (and it’s true because that’s what we all have as one of our cars). But people also think Emiratis only care about themselves and that’s not true

    Like

    1. The rich one is true for me and the patrol one is true and the care about themselves one is false. Also, since I am Emirati and Arab people think that I can speak English with an Arab accent and it’s true and and since I am Emirati people think that I do not like to mingle with expats and it’s false.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is interesting how people use stereotypes to define people. We just gotta not let these stereotypes get to us and just be our own person. Thanks so much for sharing ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey Helen, I think the main assumption people in the UK make of Asian-looking people is that they all go to study to be a Doctor or a Dentist – and many of them do but not all.

    I think the UK, and particularly big cities like London, is more aware of the various cultures and therefore more open about the different issues faced by first, second and/or third-generation ‘foreigners’, immigrants and asylum seekers. At least my colleagues were and my friends and I am because my family is so multi-cultural.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hey! thanks for reading. The assumption that have people of people of Asian descent becoming doctors is pretty prevalent here in America too. It’s not a bad stereotype but it does set people up for disappointment if you don’t end up fulfilling that stereotype. But at the same time, it does bear weight toward the ‘model minority’ theory and how people of Asian descent are somehow “better” than other minorities.

      That is good that your family is multicultural. Soon everyone’s families will all be multicultural and hopefully there will be more openness and tolerance and less assumptions

      Liked by 1 person

  4. People would always assume I’m good at basketball because I’m tall and black. When in fact I couldn’t stand playing basketball and didn’t care for it. People actually looked at me like I was the crazy one.

    Thanks for sharing with us!

    Liked by 1 person

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