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The power of Asian representation

By: Téa Tamburo

I still remember seeing “Crazy Rich Asians” in theaters in 2018. This was the first time I had ever seen so many Asian actors — an entirely Asian cast. While this experience was defining to me as a young Chinese American girl at the time, it was also eye-opening, as I had never seen myself represented in the media as prominently before.


While it was something I needed to see, it also left me longing to see more authentic representations of Asian people and Asian culture in the media we see every day.


I grew up in a diverse area of downtown Chicago where I was sheltered from most racism and feelings of not belonging. However, I still noticed stereotypical beauty and cultural expectations from both Asian and American media.


Honestly, I didn’t seek out K-pop. One of my friends sent me the Spotify link to a TWICE song, and I continued finding more songs and groups I enjoyed. At first, I didn’t even really know who I was listening to; I was just listening to music I enjoyed. After adding about nine hours of K-pop songs to my playlists, Instagram and Youtube started suggesting videos of the groups I was listening to. That’s when I realized I had found Asian media that I genuinely enjoyed without going out of my way to see.


While this was Korean music and culture I was enjoying, I still felt a sense of belonging and representation in seeing my white peers idolize Asian artists. Despite any controversies with the K-pop industry, it finally proved to me that Asian people can set fashion, cultural and beauty trends; something I hadn’t seen before.

"Thinking of what younger me needed, it’s worth it to keep seeking out and advocating for authentic Asian representation."

Seeking out accurate and authentic representation is an ongoing quest itself. Although it’s becoming easier than it was when I was little because of the internet and popularization of international T.V. and movies, it’s still hard. But, just thinking of what younger me needed, it’s worth it to keep seeking out and advocating for authentic Asian representation.

 

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[Description: Pale pink and purple background with a large photo of Téa in front of a green background. Small text under the photo says "The Power of Asian Representation." To the right side, large text in white quotation marks says, "It left me longing to see more authentic representations of Asian people and Asian culture in the media we see every day."]

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