In the kpop sphere, a new bout of controversy has risen from CL’s commentary about Asian women on Paper Magazine (click here to know more). Many fans felt unhappy about CL’s generalization of Asian women, and gave a lot of backlash. I thought it’d be interesting to look into this controversy, as it has a lot to do with my own self-image as an Asian-American young woman.
My Humble Opinion:
CL said in a interview conducted by Paper Magazine:
I think a lot of the young kids right now are looking for something new,and they want to look different. Especially girls, and this is why I’m trying to come out here — to set an example of an Asian girl. A lot of Asian girls love being basic because it’s safe, but the thing is, a lot of my fans are those girls, and they want to be bolder, but there’s no one they could look up to and be like, It’s OK to be that way.
Many fans did not like her categorization of Asian girls as shy, “basic”, and “safe”. Although it is arguable that CL was a bit too simplistic in her words, in a type of interview like this, I actually admire what she had to say. I think that CL got herself into a rut because she was touching on sensitive topics that connected directly to Asian/Asian-American stereotypes, and kind of confirming these stereotypes. However, I honestly agree with her. Sure, not 100% of all Asian girls are more obedient or “safe”, but those adjectives do accurately describe a fair amount of the female Asian population. I mean, think about it, Asia has Confucianism behind its back since the dawn of time. You flip open a beauty magazine in China and you are told how to apply “lamb makeup” （小绵羊式眼妆） to make men “want to protect you” and how to use blush in order to look more innocent.
This is the danger of current day Political Correctness. Instead of solving actual self-image problems Asian girls are facing (“a lot of my fans are those girls, and they want to be bolder, but there’s no one they could look up to and be like, It’s OK to be that way“), people try to deny these issues because they are over sensitive. There is a difference between someone dismissing Asian women as “basic” and “safe”, and someone acknowledging the truth behind that stereotype and trying to change it for good. CL had the guts to say out loud that, you know what, a good portion of Asian girls have X personality trait due to Asia’s traditional beliefs and popular culture. She’s not saying that it’s an internal trait of all Asian girls; instead, I even think she knows that it is a product of history in Asian societies – for that, I applaud her more.
Think about how many bold, tough female Kpop stars are out there (think before the wonderful days of Unpretty Rapstar). Girl’s Generation? IU? Park Shin Hye?
Some Kpop stars do a photoshoot or two that makes them look bold (even little cute IU has a few tomboy/bold pictures) but that is just temporary, like an experiment rather than a personality. Thus, Asian girls – yes, specifically Asian girls – need a bold, confident person like CL to overturn the oppressive state they’ve been under that had shaped their personalities. No more submissive lamb makeup looks, let’s go for that strong CL eyeliner.