We all don’t look the same

Alyssa Conner

A typical stereotype that bothers me more than anything is when people say all Asians look alike. Let me clarify this to everyone: Asians do share similar physical characteristics, but that does not mean we all look the same. The key word is “same.”

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, “same” is defined as being equal and identical, while “similar” is defined as having characteristics in common. Therefore, the two words have totally different meanings and can’t be used interchangeably.

In other words, Asians do have slanted eyes and black hair, but our eyes slant in different directions. Therefore, we do not all look exactly the same, because if we all did, then our eyes would slant in one direction. Get the picture?

Additionally, what also bothers me is when people say, “Why are you making such a big deal out of this?” Or even better, “Stop complaining.”

Well, it is a big deal, but I am not complaining. I think standing up and addressing the issue takes courage and confidence. It reflects my morals and self-dignity. It isn’t right for people to make such stereotypical remarks. I know we are all guilty of stereotyping, and it can never be eliminated, but it can lead to serious issues such as racism.

Chinese, Japanese and Koreans take pride in their ethnic backgrounds, so to say we all look alike, or we all are the same can be taken offensively because each race is different in many ways. You could honestly ask any Asian what one of the most annoying stereotypes is ever, and most likely he or she would tell you it’s the fact that people think we all look the same.

Here is a little education on how you can tell the difference between Chinese, Japanese and Koreans. Usually, Chinese people’s eyes are slanted downward, Japanese people’s eyes are slanted more upward and Koreans’ eyes are horizontally straight across.

I remember in elementary school arguing with this boy that I was Korean and not Chinese. He insisted that I was and that “all of us” were the same because we all had slanted eyes.

Sounds horrible, huh? No big deal – teasing is bound to happen at a young age. I guess I can justify it because we were only in third grade, and he didn’t know better. I stood there arguing with him for at least 20 minutes until a teacher came. It was a good thing she did, because I was close to punching the kid.

I also find it quite amusing when teachers get my name mixed up with my one friend’s. I don’t take any offense to it, but I really don’t understand how hard it could possibly be to tell us apart. I am going to assume it is because we are both Asian and her name sounds similar to mine, but is it really that difficult? I mean, I understand teachers have a handful of names to remember, but it isn’t like we are identical twins or wear the same clothes every day.

Maybe we should all go back to wearing name tags or have little signs propped on our desks with our names written on them every class. Better yet, maybe my friend and I should start doing this. Teachers aren’t the only ones guilty of mixing us up. Some of my friends do it, too.

I am not accusing my teachers or friends of stereotyping that Asians all look alike, but it does prove a point that people do it. It just supports the stereotype. When it comes down to it, people can stereotype that any race or ethnicity looks alike.

So, for future reference and speaking on behalf the Asian population on campus, people shouldn’t assume every Asian person you see is Chinese or Japanese. They could be Korean or Filipino. We all don’t look the same – we share similar characteristics.

Alyssa Conner is a junior public relations major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].