She's Got Jungle Fever:
Interracial dating and all that good stuff...
The moment I realized I would probably not marry an Asian man came when I was eight, and I had my first crush on a boy. His name was Brian, and he sat a couple of seats away from me in class. His older sister, who was in the sixth grade at the time, was very nice to me, and I assumed that I was an automatic shoo-in into his family. I didn't lust over Brian the way I might lust over someone today. I was, after all, just eight. He looked like a nice boy I wouldn't mind playing kickball with, that was all. Brian and I never materialized into anything, and I switched schools the following year. As you've probably guessed, Brian wasn't Asian.
Interracial dating may not be for everyone, but it does go beyond being skin deep.
Every time I crushed on someone, I noticed they weren't Asian. I wasn't being discriminating, but I rarely found someone Asian that appealed to me on a romantic level. My sister had the same inclinations, and we theorized that growing up in Italy (where Asian people were few and apart) and immediately moving to Toronto (where multiculturalism is the norm) made us, in a way, assimilate into that culture, including what we found attractive in others.
Of course, my mother had always wanted us to marry someone Chinese or Vietnamese, or at least from a neighbouring country. When she started suspecting that I was dating, she was disappointed to find that none of my boyfriends were even remotely Asian.
I do remember having a crush on a very nice Asian boy in the fifth grade. But in retrospect, I don't know if I truly liked him or it was because he was Asian and I thought that was what I was supposed to like. My friends and I didn't talk much about boys we liked, but when we did, their culture or background never mattered. As I grew older, I found that it did matter to some.
You can't help who you're attracted to or what appeals to you in someone else. Some people prefer to date blondes, others prefer men who are over six feet tall. Personally, the traits I find alluring do not have anything to do with skin colour. I have been attracted to Asian men, but maybe the theory that opposites attract is true - because I have brown eyes I find blue or green eyes more appealing, or because I have black hair (naturally) I prefer brown or blonde hair. I have dated Asian men, and will date an Asian man, granted that we click. I do think that love is blind, and goes beyond cultural barriers.
But because I am Asian, whenever I meet someone new or someone I find attractive, I always worry about whether they will find me attractive (and this goes for Asian men too - maybe they prefer to date outside their culture). I'm not the stereotypical blue-eyed busty blonde or smoldering brunette. I'm not the stereotypical Asian woman either - I laugh (guffaw?) without covering my mouth and tell dirty jokes. So where does that leave me?
I have been turned down before because I wasn't attractive enough or my eyes were just a little too small. I've also been sought out specifically because I was Asian. Men with an Asian fetish somewhat confuse me because I can't pinpoint exactly what they find so appealing. Not that Asian people aren't beautiful, but whenever I ask a man why he prefers Asian women he can't really say. It might as well be why I may be drawn to other cultures, but for me it isn't a specific background that I'm looking for. I posed this question to a friend, who speculated that it might be because Asian women tend to have a youthful look. So, basically he was saying that Asian women look like girls. This made me a little scared, as I didn't want a man to be interested in me because I reminded him of Lolita.
A couple of years ago I had a tight-knit group of friends who mainly consisted of Asian men. When I expressed interest in someone who wasn't Asian, they balked. Some of them had dated non-Asian women before, but for some reason, they couldn't fathom why I would want to. That was when I realized that I couldn't let social assumptions run my life. I also hated the cultural restrictions - because I was Asian I was expected to only socialize with and date other Asian people.
Interracial dating has its benefits - for one, you have a lot more options available to you. For another, it allows you to share your culture with someone else, and to learn a thing or two that you didn't know yourself. But everyone has their preferences, and it's their prerogative who they want to date. In the end, all that matters is what's inside. ¤ C.Ho.