As an Asian woman under 5’4”, many people misattribute my size to my race. One of the most confusing comments I receive from white women is, “Ugh, I’m jealous of Asian women because they’re all so tiny!” It’s a confusing statement because it’s not true. I’m not tiny because I’m Asian, I’m tiny because you’re white.
You see, with 4.3 billion Asians accounting for 60% of the world’s population, our median size is the norm and you’re all deviating from it. Americans choose to see us foreigners as small instead of stereotyping themselves as huge.
Seriously, the scientific reason I’m tiny has nothing to do with my race. You see me as “so tiny!” in comparison to you, but you’re actually the one who’s gigantic compared to me. Whoa! Mind-blowing stuff, huh?
While this perspective may seem wild at first, let me blow your mind again. Instead of saying to your Asian friend, “Ugh! Asian women can eat like linebackers and never get big,” try using this alternate logic: “Ugh! White women can eat like linebackers and always get big!”
That may not sound quite as fun, but it does make just as little sense!
This stereotype of Asians being tiny is a long-held misconception. For centuries, Westerners have been asking themselves why some Asians are the size they are. According to recovered Ming dynasty diaries, the first question white women asked after stepping foot in China in the 14th century was, “Oh my God, how do they eat so much rice but stay so small?”
A translator communicated the answer to them: “They’re not small. You’re actually huge.” But sadly this knowledge was forgotten from the Western historical record.
Many people still wrongly use “being Asian” as a catch-all explanation for certain qualities that only some Asians possess. For example, not all Asians excel at math. I happened to score a five on my Calc BC exam, but that’s because I studied hard – a time-tested approach used by people of all races across the globe. And I’m certainly, and most importantly, not tiny because I’m Asian. 100% of the reason why I’m tiny is because you’re white.
It’s just a fact I didn’t make up and certainly can’t change.
Just like other humans, Asian women come in many different shapes, sizes and forms. Assuming we’re the same harms those who don’t fit this narrative of the stereotypical Asian. And when we do happen to be tiny, it’s not “because we’re Asian.” It’s because you’re colossal and because you’re white.