Beauty is in the eye of the beholder–at least that’s what we’re told. But just because other people can acknowledge and validate your beauty, it doesn’t mean you become a slave to it.
Adam teaches us just how important it is to become deeply aware of your own beauty and how we view others as well. It is only then that we can de-colonize the standards of beauty that automatically negate who we are, and hold space to appreciate what makes us, and everyone around us, different.
Whether it’s in-person or online dating, or just curating our social media profiles, we all want the world to acknowledge that who we are is enough. But Adam shows us that whole process starts with you.
There’s a standard of beauty that exists in Los Angeles that I haven’t experienced before. And as a queer and Asian man, I don’t feel I’ve been able to access it in the way it has been presented to me because I’ve never felt like a particularly masculine man. And as a man of mixed heritage–white and Korean–it gets even more complicated.
Many potential partners fetishize Asian men, and because I’m mixed, I’m either not Asian enough for those who only want to date Asian guys or I’m not white enough for those who only want to date white guys. And when I do make the cut, I hear these awful words: “I’m not usually into Asians, but you’re cute.” To me, that means you don’t find my culture attractive, but you’re still willing to stick your dick near me.
Growing up, beauty was considered light skin, hair color, and eyes. And although I have brown skin, it was really about having western features, such as the perfectly slim noise. I didn’t see any models of beauty that were Asian men. And if there were any, they were women: the Lucy Liu’s who had an heir of majesty, which was really oriental fetishism. But when it came to the men, they were simply unattractive goof balls. And that lack of representation of Asian male beauty has affected me to this day.
As tough as it is for me to admit, I am inherently attracted to white men. And because I’m aware of it, I can break apart that colonialism of my own standards of beauty and question it. But at the same time, it is so inculcated in my brain, it’s hard to change.
For example, my mom married a white man, and so did my sister. And if you are going to have an interracial relationship with an Asian woman, it’s generally going to be a white man. So I do everything I can to look past that and see the beauty of all cultures and backgrounds, instead of my standard of beauty being whiteness.
Many potential partners fetishize Asian men, and because I’m mixed, I’m either not Asian enough for those who only want to date Asian guys or I’m not white enough for those who only want to date white guys.
When it comes to beauty, I have to separate how I see my self worth versus how beautiful I see myself. That’s because I don’t honestly see myself as a beautiful person when it comes to looks, but I do realize I bring a lot of value that isn’t tied to how I look.
Now, I don’t mean that in a demeaning way–I definitely don’t think I’m ugly–I just don’t think the way I look is going to be the first thing a person is going to be attracted to. I say that because beauty and masculinity in Los Angeles is all about having the muscles and stylish haircuts. That’s what you see as the most desirable look that everyone is trying to embody in just about every bar and even on the social dating apps.
I do have professional, modeling photos of myself. And what’s interesting is that I never considered myself the kind of person who gains pleasure or validation from an online community. But I’m starting to realize that even I get that tingle of satisfaction in a particular part of my brain when I see my “like” count go up, which has never really happened before moving to Los Angeles.
When I do make the cut, I hear these awful words: “I’m not usually into Asians, but you’re cute.” To me, that means you don’t find my culture attractive, but you’re still willing to stick your dick near me.
I believe that desire for validation from an online community affects all of us here because we are surrounded by beauty, which can easily make you feel like you don’t measure up, especially if you don’t get a lot of attention in person. For example, when I go out to West Hollywood, I don’t feel desirable. People aren’t buying me drinks or constantly trying to approach and connect with me. But I know that when I go online and post great photos of myself, I can experience the attention and validation there that I don’t always get in person.
In Los Angeles, everyone agrees unanimously that dating is difficult because this isn’t a city that has the concept of public space. For example, when you are in New York City, you generally take public transit to get to where you want to go. But in Los Angeles, that’s not the case: when you leave home, you take your car to get where you’re going, which means you often miss out on meeting other people organically.
That affects how you build and develop new relationships because you don’t always have the opportunity (or want to) meet other people, unless you already know them. And when you do, you find that in Los Angeles, everyone has a dream, is beautiful, and ambitious, which often means no one is trying to settle down and seriously date. Instead, everyone is searching for the next beautiful person and are constantly afraid of missing out.