To be or not to be, Jello.

What if I wasn’t Asian? I suppose that this is about as useful as contemplating one’s existence as jello, but I have often wondered just that… what if I was born blonde and blue-eyed. And then I think, ‘Why do I immediately imagine myself as an Aryan girl? Why not an African-American boy, or an Eskimo, or a shepherd in the Middle East?’ Of course guilt catches up to me as I realize on some level that I wish I was a blonde-blue-eyed gal with dimples and curls. Why is that more desirable? Is it because it’s more acceptable? More sexy? More coy? More possibilities? Just more? Now that I think about it, I even had a blonde and blue-eyed Cabbage Patch Kid. Did my parents not think that I should have a little Asian one? Did Xavier Roberts not make any Asian Cabbage Patch Kids?

In fact, I can remember a time growing up that I was often surprised by the reflection in the mirror…. WHO is that foreign-looking girl with the squinty eyes? What is she doing with bangs and stick-straight hair? Ah yes, I remember distinctly longing for those pre-raphaelite curls long before I even knew what that was called, and having my mother braid my hair every night before I went to bed so that I could wake up with the requisite bends and waves. It wasn’t exactly right, but my hair now had the bounce I longed for.
I look back on that girl and think, WHAT THE FUCK. I suppose my parents were too busy trying to survive and live the American dream that they didn’t have time to contemplate the appropriateness of my and my sister’s toys and deem whether they were supporting positive self-esteem.  Plus I did some research and Cabbage Patch Kids were in fact, only available in white and black dolls up until right after I got mine.  I guess somebody had to raise a stink for one?  or the producers of CPK decided there was enough of a demand?

I don’t remember exactly when, but I can remember a moment in time when my dad was particularly frustrated with America, his beloved adopted country (my dad happens to be the most patriotic person I know: the kind of person who spouts, “America is the greatest country in the world!” when given the opportunity) – I can remember him saying, “You know a Russian man, blonde and blue-eyed with an accent as thick as mine, if he can lose his accent, he would be seen as American, but me, I’ll always be looked at as a foreigner.”

In light of “The Nightingale” thing, well I just wonder do I care more because I’m Asian? And in particular an Asian-American theatre artist? If I wasn’t Asian would I not care as much? Probably. But then, I care about marriage equality and I’m not gay. And I don’t wanna buy a chicken sandwich (no matter how delicious they are even if I am pregnant) because the guy who owns Chick-fil-A contributes to the types of organizations that he contributes to. But maybe that’s just because I can and try to imagine what it’s like to be someone else or something else, like jello.

It’s hard to be a pioneer.  To ask for things.  To raise a stink.  I didn’t get an Asian Cabbage Patch Kid cause they didn’t make them until the demand reached a critical mass.  Let’s reach a critical mass, shall we?

This blog post is inspired by the Los Feliz Writer’s CLUB.  Holla.

p.s. Breaking news on facebook is of a guy who led an anti-Semitic political party in Hungary discovering he is Jewish.   How’s that for contemplating what it’s like to walk in another person’s shoes?

p.p.s.  I just found out there were Rice Paddy Babies made prior to the advent of Asian CPK’s.   Holy Shit.  WHAT?!?!  Unfortunate name tho.

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One thought on “To be or not to be, Jello.

  1. Jennifer! Beautiful post! I did in fact get gifted those “Rice Paddy Kids” and yes, I cried and cried because I wanted a Cabbage Patch Kid! Keep writing! Your stories, your perspective and your humor delight, educate and inspire.

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