Chinese or Blonde? How About Both?

Our daughter is mixed race, Asian and Caucasian. Because Asian genes tend to be dominant, she has dark hair, dark eyes, and darker skin than most Caucasians, but her overall appearance is Caucasian.

I think because she’s mixed race, she’s really pretty. We have people stop us in the street and tell us how pretty she is. So, at the age of 5, she is very world weary of people telling her she is pretty or beautiful. If you tell her that, she’ll pretty much, sigh and say “I know”.

So she really surprises me when she asks me if she can have yellow hair (meaning blonde). There’s certainly no role model, or any discussion that blonde is prettier in her life. Yet somehow mainstream media permeates into our life and hers and projects that image that blonde is pretty. I ask her who’s the prettiest girl in the world, and she’ll easily say she is, but she’ll also still say she wants yellow hair. I’ll tell her she has the prettiest hair, why would she want to change it? She acknowledges she has pretty hair, as many people have told her how nice her long hair is (it’s not stiff like Asian hair, so it really is nice).

But there’s no changing her mind about blonde hair.

Thanks to Tim, a 42 year old Chinese American, for submitting this story

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  • Sherri

    “It’s not stiff like Asian hair, so it really is nice”? Umm…

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  • Pia Guerrero

    “I think because she’s mixed race, she’s really pretty.” – Whoa…this is quite problematic and not a message we should be sending to our kids.

    • AsianDad

      Like instead we should be telling them they’re not pretty, or smart or talented? Studies have shown you should speak to your child as an adult, and you should be talking up their self-esteem, not putting them down. Plus if you don’t tell your child they’re pretty, they are going to accept what mainstream society tells them is pretty (blonde, blue eyes, etc), so it ‘s better they believe they are before they get brainwashed by the media.

      • Ota kun

        You obviously don’t get it- “I think because she’s mixed race, she’s really pretty.” is way different than “My daughter is pretty because she’spretty.” Let’s not objectify/exotify our children. Nothing good comes of that.

  • Kelly J

    Like others, I read this and felt definite concern for this little girl with the less than culturally-conscious parent. Of course parents should encourage their children to feel good about themselves, but it sounds like this parent is really caught up in their own exotification of mixed race people and is projecting it on his/her daughter. To say “I think because she’s mixed race, she’s really pretty” and, regarding her hair, “(it’s not stiff like Asian hair, so it really is nice)” – phew! This poor kid is going to get a load of these types of projections from others as she grows up. It’s a shame she’s going to get it from her parents, too.

  • Cynthia

    I resonate with this. I am a second generation Asian American woman, and my daughter is mixed Asian Caucasian though her overall appearance is Caucasian. I was raised in the American South, where the predominant racial tension was on Black-White relations, and in the absence of a large cohesive Asian community which would have facilitated the development of a strong Asian cultural identity. I remember exclusive coloring all women in my coloring books with blonde hair and blue eyes, and in my private fantasy play, seeing myself as Caucasian. It took a great deal of effort as a young adult for me to develop a healthy bicultural identity (took 3 years of Chinese in college and an immersion program in Taiwan). And because of this, helping my daughter navigate and reconcile her biracial identity is something that I have zealously pursued–I have gone so far as using black/brown sharpies to cover over blonde/light eyed characters in her books (e.g. Pat the Bunny, Where’s Baby’s Toes) and puzzles, limit baby dolls to those with brown eyes, encouraging her interest in NiHaoKai Lan, and asking my parents to send back children’s music in chinese when they visit Taiwan. But it is still an uphill battle–and particularly as she grows and increasingly moves among a wider world of people that I cannot control. She started public school this year and for the first time I have started seeing her draw pictures of blonde hair blue eyed girls, and her father related a conversation to me that he recently had with her, in which she told him she wished her hair were blonde. My heart broke.

  • Pamela Main Heaphy

    Was the author aware of the ridiculousness of her comment “It’s not stiff like Asain hair”… If added to fuel the fire, it’s ridiculous. If added unconsciously, it’s ridiculous.

  • sarha

    beautiful little girl but her hair is pretty the way it is she doesn’t need to have blonde hair but if she want’s blonde hair there is nothing wrong with that. but again she doesn’t need it she is pretty the way she is. but it does kind of sound like you are saying blondes aren’t pretty when yes they are. as far as them not being good role models well that’s a ignorant comment in itself how would you know? who are you to say that? you dont even know any of them and for your information there are some that are good role models and who do good thing’s and care about people there not all sluts like you seem to probably thank they are. so next time why dont you try getting to know them before comeing to that conclusion and being such a rude ass twitt

    • Ota kun

      NOBODY made the claims you are trying to defend blondes against. Slow down.