My Asian American Story Is Shared By So Many — Yet, It’s Still Uniquely My Own
I'm the daughter of immigrant parents — they moved to the States from Hong Kong and Singapore for college before I was born — so I've always felt like I've had my feet planted firmly in both Chinese and American cultures. A lot of people might find my life experiences growing up pretty relatable, like being one of the only Asian kids in the whole elementary school class, or having to go to Chinese school on the weekend, or not growing up close to grandparents because they're literally an ocean away. And that's just talking about parts of my childhood! At its base, surface level, my story is shared by so many — and because of that, it's also a source for community, one that I'm incredibly thankful for.
And at the same time, of course, my story is also uniquely mine. My experience growing up as an Asian American person in this world is mine alone, stereotypes be damned, expectations be damned. My parents have been supportive in me carving out my own path after graduating from high school, and carve out my own path I did, majoring in journalism and becoming a writer after grad school. And there are so many facets of me, beyond profession, that make me, me, from the trivial to the more serious: I love wearing knee-high combat boots; I have a geeky spreadsheet of NYC restaurants; I'm the setter on my volleyball team; I care very much about mental health, and busting stigma around it. I am a sister, a daughter, a wife, a friend, a creative, a rule follower, a rule breaker. I am all of these things, and all of these things define me, and are informed by my cultural identity — yet, like for all of us, I am not solely any one of these things.
That duality — that hard-to-define both-ness of my culture and heritage informing and defining my identity, but also me being completely me on top of any, and all, of that — is what I hope to celebrate with Bustle's I Am. At its heart, this package is all about celebrating the community and the individuality of what it means to be Asian or Pacific Islander in America today. We're proud to bring you pieces that we feel squash stereotypes and show what beautiful diversity exists in a community that is so often viewed as a monolith. Pieces like this feature in our Books section, in which we asked 13 authors to reveal the first time they saw themselves in a book, and includes gems from Pachinko author Min Jin Lee, A River of Stars author Vanessa Hua, and America Is Not The Heart author Elaine Castillo. Or this eye makeup feature starring Jannel Varona and P.S. Kaguya that, in the words of our Senior Fashion & Beauty Editor Sara Tan, is all about "squashing everything traditional Asian eye makeup tutorials have taught you — instead of transforming your eye shape, we're embracing and celebrating it in the loudest, boldest, and most unconventional way."
Our Associate Entertainment Editor Olivia Truffaut-Wong also talked to 10 writers behind some of your favorite shows, including Aseem Batra, the creator of I Feel Bad, Saturday Night Live writer Bowen Yang, and Superstore writer Vicky Luu, who's behind the upcoming Like Magic pilot on NBC. These writers are, as Olivia puts it in her piece, "rewriting the script in Hollywood," and you've got to check out what they candidly shared with her about Asian identity and their writers room experiences.
And there's so, so much more launching today and in the weeks ahead. I hope you enjoy reading all of the pieces in this package as much as we on the Bustle team have enjoyed working on them. Because being Asian Pacific American is worth celebrating — and we're doing so proudly on our terms.