有點種族歧視的讚美 – “racist” compliments

Momzilla is here for less than two days and I already know I will have bunch of posts to write – can you believe that last time she flew to the US we had a little car crash, and this time our car completely broke down?
It’s going to be fun three months!
But this is now what I wanted to talk about today, Momzilla will get her 15 minutes.

If you read some of my older posts you can figure out I enjoy writing about stereotypes, good or bad. You can check some of them out:

I like to discuss them, share my point of view, and get to know your opinions!
These topics often come up during conversations with Sing as he often lurks on Hong Kong forums. In the past I used a lot of my husband’s help to look through these forums and get people’s view on particular topics.

They can be a great source of information, but they also spread stereotypes.
This time I decided just to focus on the looks, what are the stereotypes of “gwai mui look” and what it all has to do with my husband, and this post’s title? 

We can lie to each other that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but what made you grab the book in the first place? The cover doesn’t need to be beautiful, but it needs to grab your attention.

I’m that kind of average book that you can find only when you look for it, rather than getting your attention the moment you enter the bookstore, but I found that one reader who read the summary at the back of the cover and thought the content of the book is pretty entertaining.

My self confidence is nearly zero, but despite how crappy I feel or look, Sing is very supportive and always compliments me.
Even if I have a pimple on my forehead that makes me look like a rhino (let’s face it – I’m not the unicorn type) he would try to say something nice about my eyes, or simply throw “You look cute today”.

That’s fine, I love it and I think every girl would love a sweet man like that too. However, the difference between sweet man and Sing is the fact that I think my husband emotional intelligence is equally proportional to my self esteem.
He is great at work, he’s a very smart engineer, but the biggest problem I have is he doesn’t think much before saying something.
A sweet guy knows something that would make his significant other upset and he doesn’t say it. Sing makes sure to say it twice, in case you missed it the first time.

Sometimes I know he wants to be nice and cheer me up, but he just doesn’t do it the way he should.
And this is how we get to racist compliments. Why racist? Because if a white guy complimented his Asian girl in the same way he would probably had all the social warriors on him. 

Am I bothered by them? Enough to write a post, not enough to divorce him.
But I wouldn’t want him to compliment someone else like that – it’s a bit like those ‘You don’t look THAT fat today’ types of compliments.

Let me explain – my husband spent most of his adult life in foreign countries (Australia, USA and now Ireland) so it’s not like I’m the first white person he had seen or dated. He would read Hongkongers’ opinions or stereotypes they have about white girls, evaluate his experience and compare them to me.

As every stereotype, there’s some good, some bad and some ugly. I will focus only on the bad ones, as Sing often tries to use them in the context of the compliments he gives.
Here are some of the most common written stereotypes on white girls on Hong Kong forums and how my husband tries to change them into compliments!

  • White girls don’t have good skin, it’s very rough – Sing’s compliments how soft is my skin, completely ignoring the fact that me and whoever has a soft skin puts like 45231423474 layers of cream each day to keep it, only to complain later why I spend so much on creams. It’s either this or sand-paper hands, you choose. 
  • Bye bye meat on arms – if you don’t know what’s “Bye bye meat” stand in front of a mirror and wave goodbye. If your arm is wobbling, that’s a bye bye meat. Every single time Sing says something nice about the arms, I wonder if I look like The Mountain from Game of Thrones or maybe that I’m the only one carrying groceries in this house…
  • Bigger bone structure – literally ‘I’m glad your not big, sometimes when I stand to ******** (our coworker) I feel so small. They are all so tall and look like they could beat me up’. I bet if they hear him ever saying that, he will get beaten.
  • Have strong body odor – that’s called shower and deodorant, but thank you. He once even said ‘Do you ever sweat? White girls should sweat, you’re not used to hot weather’ as it was 30-something degrees Hong Kong summer outside and Sing seemed to sweat for both of us.
  • They always sun bath and get tan – said a man living the most pale country in the world. “You’re so white”. That’s it. Like – I know, I have a mirror. Could that be a compliment? For most people not, some could get even upset as it means they could look sick. But for a lot of Hong Kong people, bright skin without tan is healthy and desired. My mom is always asking me to get some sunshine, don’t cover the freckles I get so easily, but Sing’s whole family will say ‘Your wife’s skin is so pale’. If you ask me – this is the worst ‘compliment’ of them all. 

You wouldn’t want someone say ‘Your partner is good looking… for (put here his/her ethnicity here)’ that’s why I try to kill my husband’s habit of racist compliments, but I know he doesn’t mean harm.
All he wants is for me to gain some confidence, but he does it a way he may offend others.
Some men just need bit more time to realize what really is OK and what is not.

What is your opinion on racist compliments? Did someone ever give you one like that? Would love to hear your opinion and discuss! 

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29 thoughts on “有點種族歧視的讚美 – “racist” compliments

  1. I’m 5′ 10″ / 178 cm with broad shoulders, “big bone structure ” and muscular arms and always get “you’re well built for an Asian”

    And what about those compliments to one race that are actually insults to the other,
    like

    White men are so tall and good looking = Asian men are so short and ugly.
    Or
    Asian women age so well = white moment age so badly?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Bye bye meat! We call that “teacher arm”. I live in Japan and I get “white” compliments a lot. In addition to “big nose” and “big eyes” both of which are desired by Western loving Asians I guess. Imagine if a white person commented on Asian eyes!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a fairly complicated situation because he is saying nice things to you and he has good intentions. But the racist stereotypes are probably so ingrained in his brain that it takes a lot of effort and self-awareness to not let them affect the things that he says. I think the best way to approach it is to tell him that you appreciate the compliments that he is giving you but also to be honest and let him know the insinuations that they carry. Hopefully, he will try to be more mindful of the things he says in the future. Don’t berate him for slip ups but try to be patient and recognize the effort that he puts into being more aware and considerate.

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  4. My husband does this all the time too. He would literally call me fatty like “hey fatty wife!” or “white piggy” which makes me not too happy even though he thinks they are complements. I am the only non Chinese girl he has been with. He hasn’t been around too many white girls or girls of different ethnicities. It is very eye opening for him living in USA now.

    His family and friends are all convinced that I do something to my skin to make it pale, something to my hair to make it not black, and I have colored contacts. He is always asked about the products I use because people are convinced it is not natural. He got annoyed with telling them I am a white girl so he just posted all my creams and soaps I used to keep them quite for a while. When I was in China family would pet my arm thinking the white will come off. They were surprised about my skin texture too, soft.

    One thing I heard a lot when I was in China was that I have a pretty face for a fat girl. It was made to my attention that my face and only my face made be pretty. It is one of those things that makes me a little upset. Just say I am pretty, no modifiers or clauses are needed.

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  5. I’ve been married for nearly 47 years. Men simply don’t understand the compliment thing no matter their ethnic issues or not. He honestly means to compliment, but his words come out all wrong. As your husband is an engineer, he is using logic, not feelings, to compliment you. Just like my tech husband does me. I sometimes feel if I could break down my body into bits and bites, he would understand me better. Still and all, I love him deeply, and his compliments are taken exactly as he means them, awkward wording or not. Having lived in 11 countries and traveled to even more, I understand your issues with how the locals see you within the confines of their ethnic culture. I was a well rounded white woman of a certain age in Hong Kong. A lot of peeking at me from the corner of their eyes and comments I knew were unacceptable, but I refused to allow it to get to me. It was their culture after all. One man told my husband he must make good money to have a fat wife. I laughed. What else could I do? Just remember, he is doing his best to let you know he loves and appreciates you. Accept it for what it means and move on.

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  6. I can appreciate you have some sensitivity about, say, your complexion; but is it truly a “Racist” compliment if it isn’t meant as a negative?

    I don’t believe a conscious observation of differences between cultures is harmful per se; it is only harmful when we start attaching judgement and insecurity to those observations.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I call the bye bye meat “bingo wings”, hehe. That’s a weird thing to say about white women in general, as I’d say it happens to old people of all colours. Well maybe very fat young people have them too. I have never been skinny but I don’t have bingo wings yet.

    It’s true our bone structure tends to be bigger so we are normally taller and bigger than many Asians, even when we are not fat. What can we do. We also have thinner hair and longer eyelashes… My husband often tells me jokingly “Take off your fake eyelashes before you sleep” xD

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  8. I think of racial observations as observations. A person’s race is not something for people to focus on, but there’s no harm. I lived for twenty years among international expats. Racial observations were inevitable. On the other hand, after a while, living with people from various backgrounds begins to see normal, and we see our friends of all races and national origins first as individual people.

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  9. I’m a Southeast Asian from Malaysia. My skin colored is almost similar to sun-kissed tan or brown to put it simply. I married a Swedish guy (who is also Slavic) and his entire family is literally the walking stereotype of being white (pyhsically) and when his family met me, oh my god the questions are never-ending:

    “You don’t look like an Indian or Chinese.. Or Arab..” (I’m a Chindian with a wee bit of Malay)
    “I thought you were Latino!”
    “Which part of Asia are you from?”
    “I thought Asians were.. Petite?” (I’m 161cm)
    “I thought Asians speak English with an accent?” (well my country ranked 2 best in Asia and 13th best in the world omg why)
    “I thought Southeast Asians hates white people?” instant facepalm

    My parents are used to deal with foreigners from all walks of life so they weren’t as surprised as my in-laws lol. But sometime my husband would be using the most ridiculous yet amusing stereotypes agaisnt me.

    “I never knew you ate with your hands. I thought Asians used chopstick?”
    “How come Chinese here speak better English than those who are from mainland?”
    “Most guys here are quite tall, eh?”
    “Why aren’t your body as slender and petite as Asian?” (to be fair he never thought my body would have curves lmao he didn’t meant in a mean way)

    When he saw that dogs aren’t allowed to be used in culinary, he was really surprised that it is true in some parts of Asia do eat dogs but he was also surprised to see a lot of Southeast Asia country ban it. Mind you, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia is one of the only countries in Southeast Asia where they served exotic food like bugs, insects and worms. The only thing O can used agaisnt him is the terrible Scandinavian jokes among themself like “You know why you’re so organized? because you have been using an IKEA manual”.
    P.s. those jokes are the worst

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  10. Honest between him and myself, I’m just trying to think…the closest I’ve said to him….your skin looks so dead white ..in the areas that never see sun. 🙂

    My skin areas that don’t see sun, are just whitish, but not true white. 🙂

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  11. I don’t think you understand what racism is. Racism is you applying to a British university and them discriminating you by default because you’re from Poland even if your grades are good. Why don’t you ever write about things that matter? It seems to me that you’re the one who’s racist.

    You even had a whole post about begpackers (which was “rich” coming from someone who sells donuts for a living, seriously) even though your whole blog and your whole career is basically built begging your husband for money.
    Coming from a poor Polish family it makes sense you want to feel pride and do well in life, but you advertise your successes in such an obnoxious way that people envy you.

    When people envy you, they start hating you, and then they stab you in the back, and you start losing friends. I can guarantee you that your whole “moving to HK” Youtube video wasn’t received well. Having hope is one thing but advertising all your trips whether to USA or Hong Kong or Japan on social FUCKING media is insanity.

    Which is why I’m surprised to see you so arrogant. Your Instagram looks like you’re loaded with money (not a compliment) but why do I feel hatred and disgust checking out your social media, and not admiration? Because you’re bragging consciously or subconsciously.

    Not to mention your husband is from Asia and you plan to live in an Asian metropolis where A) money talks a whole lot (and you don’t have your own money) and B) where being humble kind of matters (did you forget about that?)
    I respect your hustle but being so obnoxious about all the good things is vile. You edit your life so your Instagram Life looks perfect, but I would never be friends with you or hire you., because I find you lacking in emotional intelligence. We all know you edit your life but must you be so obnoxious about it?

    I genuinely can’t believe how much you brag. How is that even useful? Or relatable? Or attractive? Or even just good reading and blogging?

    I could never respect someone who goes to Japan, smacks a pic on their blog as if was a trip to the store. “Stereotypes” are not always racism. When they deny you job or uni, in the UK AND Ireland which, ironically, does affect you whether you like it or not, that’s racism.

    I don’t know what kind of marriage you guys have where it’s just normal to advertise your life online with no respect to others but it won’t get you far in life.

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    1. Thank you for spending your time to lurk through my social media 🙂 , but I wish you did a better research – let me clarify few things you didn’t get correctly:
      1. I come from Poland, but I’m not from a poor family. Not a rich one, that’s true, but I lived good life back in Poland.
      2. I do not sell donuts, I have no idea where you got that one from. From my joke ‘donut procurement specialist’ on Fat Thursday? I’m a procurement specialist in IT company. Further more – I do not owe it to my husband, if I wasn’t good, I wouldn’t be promoted. I managed purchasing activities for two major accounts globally. You don’t get to this point just by knowing people. And yes – this is the only thing I would brag about as I work really hard and put heart into my work.
      3. I wish, I WISH I was as rich as you think I (or we?) am. We do not have financial problems, but we don’t get it for nothing. Spending all day at work and saving money to have nice holidays from time to time. We have lady at work pretending to be on sick leave, getting welfare and going to US in meantime for her holidays. Am I mad? Of course I am, but it’s not my life so I move on.
      4. I do not edit my life – if you spent more time reading what I wrote, I write straight about my struggles at life, at work, with health. I try to be as honest as I can – not everything can be said, as it’s not only related to me, but there’s no sugarcoating.
      5. I do travel posts to help people who also travel, I read them myself as well. People live in different places, travel to different locations- guidebooks won’t get you there. I’m not sure why you sound so bitter about it? I’m glad that I have a chance to travel, and I want it to be presentable to people who will read it.
      5. Racism has multiple forms – some people get upset by stereotypes, some other will be fine until seriously offended. As I wrote in the post, it’s about “racist” compliments, and not racist compliments. Some people could be offended by such comments, therefore I wrote it.
      Thanks for sharing your opinion on racism, as we all have different views on what’s racist and what’s not.
      6. Sorry if you don’t like my blog, but I do not force you to be here. I’m glad I met so many amazing people through this blog, judging by the views there are people who actually do enjoy reading it and as long as there is someone who wants to do it – I will continue on writing.

      If you want – continue our journey, if not – I’m not keeping you hostage here.

      Like

      1. I don’t think we all have different opinions about what racism is and what racism isn’t. Does Brexit impact you? Could you apply to study at Cambridge and get a fair shot at it? Would people treat you fairly even tho your first and last name is foreign? Could you get better qualifications studying hard, maybe getting a scholarship applying to study in the UK? Would they let you? Why and why not?

        Could you write about this or is it too controversial?

        So no, I don’t think we have such differing ideas what racism is. I just think you’re kind of a coward taking a stab at people who make bad choices and judge their lifestyles — after all, they can’t defend themselves.

        I think you write about an modern-American idea what racism is (which is at this point nitpicking on everything) but deep down inside, I’m sure you ran out of things to say, so you default to racism because it’s “hip” and “now”.

        I don’t think you’re rich at all. I think that you grew up in a family who didn’t have much money. When you say you had a good life, so would you parents ever send you to SF? No? I guess that’s where your husband comes into play, right?

        You don’t write about traveling. You are bragging. YOU ARE BRAGGING. You are insecure and you are bragging. Of course I don’t like it but then again, nobody likes someone who brags. Could you ask Sing to teach you a thing or two about humility?

        You say that you don’t edit your life but I disagree. You’re one of those people LIna, that makes their life look perfect on IG and THAT IS NOT NORMAL. It’s not normal that you edit your life to trips overseas, big cities and Rilakuma and Taipei 101.

        THAT IS NOT NORMAL.

        That invites ENVY and enemies to your life. And it also sends a toxic message to people who do take your seriously that one’s life is supposed to be a series of victories and luxury trips and what not, and that’s where I call BS 100 %.
        If you think that’s okay or normal or LIKEABLE, go ahead and continue. Just don’t moan when it gets you enemies and envy, and not friends.

        Now there are these arrogant posts where you put people down, and write about racism (what racism? you never mentioned Brexit and racism that actually AFFECTS YOU) — but the way you write and put people who are down, JUST LIKE WHEN YOU WERE DOWN, it’s deplorable.

        Please stop saying ‘donut procurement specialist’ like it’s a thing. IT IS NOT A THING!

        Don’t you think that people in fisheries and factories don’t WORK HARD? But because you marrried a HK Husband, his family will fork out a massive amount of money for a HK apartment. More like, most of that is to HIS credit, not yours.

        A lot of people work hard but they don’t have your luck and your marriage that, at the end of the day, is what makes huge a difference. Stop pretending it doesn’t because it does.

        You’re not keeping me hostage here at all. It’s your blog, open to public, with a lot of nonsense that your readers don’t enjoy.

        If anything, I am keeping YOU hostage.

        And you know what, at least you’re getting brutal feedback what’s right and what’s wrong. People who suck up to you will still judge you, they just won’t say why they dislike you and start alienating you.

        I didn’t dislike your blog at all when I started reading it. But as months went by, I started to hate how you put people down, talk about race (cowardly, just so you can get hits and people reading, god forbid you’d actually stand up for something real that affects you) — if there were things I appreciated about this blog, they are no longer here. Why do you even resort writing about race and creating it in HK? You DO know that it’s you who’s going to live there, stupid? You are creating a bad image for YOURSELF, you dunce.

        Most of what your readers see is TV shows, big cities and summer trips BUT O YOU WORK HARD therefore you are better than people because, yeah, it’s as simple as that. Maybe you are INSECURE and showing off to overcompensate, but it’s still bragging that invites envy.

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        1. If you read people’s comment here, I still believe we have different view on what racism is to them. Talk to your friends, talk to random people. Read people’s comments.

          For some reason you got stuck with Brexit. I never wanted or intended to go to UK, aside of travelling. Let me guess – you will hit me with Polish people getting kicked out from UK if they still don’t have the citizenship, they will move to Ireland (because in your eyes they are all too poor to move back to Poland) and that would increase the racist behavior towards Poles so I should worry!
          I study here, in Ireland and yes, I’ve been treated badly few times due to the fact I’m Polish. If you bothered to read these posts, you would know. But Brexit is not my concern anymore and aside of you I haven’t seen anyone being concerned about it either on my blog. If someone would request my view, I could give it.

          The only thing that makes me upset is you putting down my family. No, they wouldn’t send me to SF but not because of money, but because I wouldn’t go there if my husband – I’m not interested in the US that much.
          My parents are not rich, but we never struggled either. Just “usual” family.

          You talk about editing – if you also spent time on my IG and read the stories I post, there are my random struggles and insecurities. But it’s better just to look at a picture from travelling, when I felt happy and wanted to share this happiness and beauty.
          I don’t photoshop myself to be pretty, I’m not ‘littleTaying’ sitting in expensive cars with expensive bags. Half of my IG are pictures of Pocky or cute buns I get at Chinese store. That’s not too fancy.
          Maybe we should shut down IG completely, if something that silly makes people upset?

          ‘Donut procurement specialist’ was a joke on Fat Thursday, did you even bother to check that?
          I’m a procurement specialist, that’s a real thing, important part of supply chain.
          I never said others don’t work hard and only I am the one and only hard working person in the whole wide world. But I do work hard, there’s a lot of money going through my hands at work every quarter, I have big financial pressure from the CEOs, I’m coordinating global accounts, I spend at work more time than most of the people – I see even some managers working only what they have in contract.
          We both pay the same mortgage, so please stop saying it’s all thanks to my husband. Just because the mortgage is under his name, so I wouldn’t need to fly as well to get the documents, it doesn’t mean he’s the only one paying. If there’s a sucker – it’s me. I pay a mortgage for a flat that’s not even under my name. How’s that for you?

          I’m bit tired trying to change your view on me. You will hit me with one more long comment thinking you win, then have it ‘You win, I lose’, I just don’t see the point in telling you more than I told you or what’s in the blog or other SM that you decided to ignore.
          If you dislike coming here, then don’t come – how simple is that. Thanks for being part of this blog in the past, but you’re not forces to keep coming back.

          Kind regards,
          Paulina

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  12. My future morher in law is full of them….
    Oh you lost weight. But keep an apple face..
    Oh your kids will be beautiful..his features and your skin…
    Its okay hes with you. White girls care more about culture than other indian ethnicities…
    Shes so well educated despite her family….

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  13. By the way, if something is said or done that puts someones race as a gauge for desirability it is racist. Racism is on a spectrum, from microagressions lile these comments to systemic racism which minorities face for generations.
    We cant discount one to uphold the other. It’s all regrettable

    Like

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