Blasian Photoshopped Across the Globe

The “Before & After” project was release by Esther Honig in June of 2014.  In this original project, Honig asked the world to define beauty by sending an un-retouched photo of her head and shoulders to 25 countries with the simple instruction – “Make me beautiful.”  The results were a peek into the idea of beauty through different cultures.  Fellow journalist Priscilla Yuki Wilson followed up on Honig’s project, replicating it with her own photo,  While Honig is of European descent, Wilson is biracial with a Japanese mother and an African American father.  Wilson received edited photos from 18 countries.  The alterations varied from lightening her skin to emphasising different aspects of her features.

Original Photo by Che Landon.

Below is the description of “Before & After Part Two” from Priscilla Yuki Wilson’s personal website.

The question of “what are you?” regularly influences how I experience the world.  It serves as a reminder that I am living in a  culture that’s still adjusting to my kind of face.  Growing up my Japanese mother would often tell me to wear sunblock and to stay out of the sun to avoid getting “top dark”.  Being that my father is black, this paradox always troubled me because I was clearly a product of a radical racial union.  In these subtle ways I was taught that my natural self did not comply with conventional standards set forth by society, saying fairer skin is better, straighter hair is more attractive, and that skinny tastes good.  For that reason I decided to carry out a reproduction of the project Before & After because I wanted to see how a face like mine would be transformed on the digital surgical table.

As in the original project I approached each photoshop aficionado with the request to “make me beautiful.”  Similarly I utilised the international freelancing platform, which has allowed me to contract nearly 30 individuals from more than 25 countries.

In contrast to Honig’s results, where her face became a canvas to express more than a dozen contrasting beauty standards, I found that my face actually challenged the application of photoshop in this instance.  As a biracial woman there is no standard of beauty or mild that can easily fit my face.

This photoshop experiment, like Honig’s, revealed the different views of beauty around the world, verifying that a universal concept of beauty does not exist.

View all of Wilson’s altered photos on her website.  For more information about the original “Before & After” project, go to Esther Honig’s personal website.


Blasian Finalist for Miss Universe Singapore

Miss Universe Singapore is an annual contest held in Singapore to select the country’s representative to the Miss Universe pageant.  The 12 finalists of Miss Universe Singapore 2014 were unveiled on August 2.  The pageant was held on August 22 and was broadcast on cable channel, Fashion TV.

This year’s contest included Ijechi Nazirah Nwaozuzu, a Singaporean of African and Malaysian heritage.  Born to a Nigerian father and a Malay mother, the 21-year-old is currently studying law at the National University of Singapore.  Raised in Bukit Panjang, she also claims Chinese, Indian, and Portuguese heritage.

Regarding her unique circumstances, she states, “My sister and I were raised to be Singaporean in identity and values, but global in our outlook and perspective.”  One of the more challenging issues for her as a child was being identified as “Other” in the school register.  She felt it was harder to fit in, as she did not belong to any of the major racial groups.  While Singapore is multicultural, ethnic Asians predominate.  Seventy-five percent of the population is Chinese, with significant minorities of Malays, Indians, and Eurasians.  “Part of why I joined this competition is to show the world that we’re cosmopolitan.  We always talk about Singapore being multiracial, but I don’t think we show enough of that on the international stage,” said Ijechi.

Ijechi competed well, finishing second runner-up and also selected for the Best Legs award.  Now, she can refocus on her studies.  She is interested in international law, human rights, women’s rights, and family law.  As she says, “the most important thing now is to survive law school and graduate.”

BONUS:  Cecelia Chng – makeup stylist to blasians Kimora Lee Simmons and Naomi Campbell – served as the makeup artist for Miss Universe Singapore 2014!

Selected Sources:
* Yahoo Entertainment, “Exotic mix of Miss Universe Singapore 2014 finalists unveiled“, August 3, 2014.

First Blasian Contestant on AsNTM2

Marie Nakagawa with the flags of Senegal & Japan

Season 2 of Asia’s Next Top Model featured blasian contestant, Marie Nakagawa, of Japan.  Born to a Senegalese father and a Japanese mother, Marie has often been mistaken for a non-Japanese due to her mixed heritage.  Marie was often bullied by her peers during her childhood in Tokyo.  In her Intro video for AsNTM, Marie discusses the difficulties she experienced as a blasian child in Japan.

Filmed in Malaysia, Asia’s Next Top Model (cycle 2) premiered on January 8, 2014 on STAR World Asia and Fox Asia.  Sixteen women from across the Asia-Pacific region participated in the televised contest.  prior to her elimination.  She was in the bottom 3 in Episode 2 and was the first to be given a second chance.  She was the first call out, selected for best photo in Episode 4, Episode 7, and Episode 8.

Episode 4: The Girl That Embraces Change
Episode 7: The Girl Who is in the Spotlight
Episode 8: The Girl Who Makes a Splash

Marie posted the following on her Facebook page on January 22, 2014, discussing her desire to help Japan recognize the diversity of beauty.

“Japan really needs to realize that FASHION should be equal to any races and I’m hoping that Japanese fashion industry will be more open mind to those colored race as well. Trust me, I am giving my all to change Japan for all those young girls looking up to Japanese Fashion Industry Which They only Have Either white or light Skin tone Damn too skinny and cute Eyes Big Girls That says and Represent and Being told as the definition of World’s Standard BEAUTY” Which IS Totally not. Their only to BE Admire.
We Live in Japan, but we ALSO Live in the World.
non of US in the World IS Same. We all Have Different skin color, we all have different eye color hair colors and everything and WE ALL DIFFERENT that’s exactly why we should accept the beauty each other and we NEVER EVER have to set the definition of beauty by skin color or the size of the eyes or big teeth Small teeth skinny or Chubby or whatever the reason Stupid Which we should Never Compared to and by Judges.

Vietnamese Afro-Amerasians

Many Amerasians experienced ostracism from Vietnamese society.  Black Amerasians often experienced blatant bias, unlike their white counterparts.  Due to their Vietnamese heritage, they were also denied the opportunity to claim an American or African American identity.

Vietnamese Afro-Asian Khanh Le was the inspiration for the documentary, “A Vietnamese Afro-Amerasian Testimony: In Search of the ‘Place’ in Displacement”.  For more information about the documentary, visit this link on the Feature Articles section of The Global Viet.

To read more about Vietnamese Amerasians, specifically Afro-Amerasians, check out the following links.

DeBonis, Steven.  Children of the Enemy: Oral Histories of Vietnamese Amerasians and Their MothersJefferson, NC: Mcfarland & Co Inc Pub, 1995.

Lucious, Bernard Scott.  “In the Black Pacific: Testimonies of Vietnamese Afro-Amerasian Displacements“.  Displacements and Diasporas.  Ed. Wanni Anderson, Ed. Robert Lee.  New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2005.

Phan, Shandon.  “Vietnamese Amerasians in America“.  Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America, 2003.

Tran, Thanh.  Vietnamese-Amerasians: Where Do They Belong?  South Hadley, MA: Mount Holyoke College, December 16, 1999.

Organizations to Support Mixed Race Koreans

Mixed race Koreans are a marginalized population.  Korean society has always been obsessed with the idea of racial purity.  Accordingly, it can be quite difficult to be biracial in South Korea.  Life can be especially hard for biracial Koreans with African ancestry, as darker skin is negatively associated with poverty and farm labor.  To address this issue, several organizations have been created to support the growing biracial Korean population.

During the early 1960s, American novelist Pearl S. Buck visited Korea to write The Living Reed.  Buck coined the term “Amerasian”, referring to Korean children fathered by American servicemen during the Korean War.  In 1965, she established the Opportunity Center and Orphanage in Bucheon City (formerly Sosa), South Korea to serve Amerasian ChildrenOffices were subsequently opened in Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam.  In the United States, she founded a child sponsorship organization, Pearl S. Buck Foundation (now called Pearl S. Buck International), to address poverty and discrimination faced by children in Asian countries.  She endeavored greatly to raise the awareness of children in Korea who are ethnically mixed and undergo hardships because of the circumstances of their birth and their lives.  Throughout her lifetime, Buck dedicated her energy and resources in order to combat the injustice of social discrimination and prejudice suffered by mixed race children.

MACK (맥) was founded as the Mission for Amerasian Children of Korea in September 1995 in Chicago, IL.  The organization is dedicated to a better understanding of children born to dual cultural parentage and the cultural barrier affecting them, their families, and their communities in Korea and throughout the world, as well as to heighten compassion and understanding by all towards the plight of Amerasians.  In order to meet the needs of a new and growing generation of multiethnic Koreans both abroad and in South Korea, MACK now stands for the Movement for the Advancement of Cultural-diversity of Koreans.

In 2006, American football player Hines Ward created the Hines Ward Helping Hands Foundation.  The foundation is dedicated to helping mixed race children like himself in South Korea, where they have suffered discrimination.  His Helping Hands U.S. Foundation focuses on improving literacy among children and will provide programs and services to better equip them for achieving and handling success in life.  Abroad, his Helping Hands Korea Foundation (formed as a tribute to his mother, Kim Young-hee) has targeted biracial discrimination, especially as it occurs among the children of Korea.  Ward has spoken out against South Korea’s discriminatory practices and pledged his time and allegiance to the biracial children there.  He plans to continue to help make life easier for the mixed race kids in South Korea.  “I will make the struggle to end biracial discrimination my chief cause, for which I will devote my time and resources, both in the United States and Korea,” said Ward.  Ward is known in Korea as the Ambassador for biracial children and hopes to make this his legacy both at home and abroad.

The Year in Review

In 2012, “Blasians Defined” has published 17 posts and launched a shop.  I appreciate your taking the time to share in this journey of discovery about the blasian experience.  I would also like to take this opportunity to encourage you to participate in this journey.  If there are stories that can supplement and build on the posts that have already been published, please make a comment, so that I can pursue those leads.  If there are stories that you would like to see developed on the blog, please comment.  This blog is meant to support your ideas and engage your thoughts.  Your ideas are valued!

A list of blog posts follows for your review.

* Why a Blasian Blog?

* The First Blasian on TV

* Asians & Basketball

* Asians & Football

* Korean Basketball League Ethnic Draft

* Blasian Chart Toppers in the US

* Blasian Singers in Asia

* Blasian Reality TV Stars

* Blasians in the Congo

* Blasian Olympic Medalists

* Blasian Americans at the 2012 Olympics

* Blasian Olympians Worldwide

* Blasian American Olympians

* The Newest Blasian Reality TV Star…

* Two New Blasian Reality Show Stars Debut Today!

* Blasian Presidential Campaign Merchandise

* Blasian to Star in Nick At Nite Pilot

I look forward to hearing from you!  Thank you for your support!

Blasian to Star in Nick At Nite Pilot

Nick At Nite has announced a new show called Instant Mom.  The show will star Tia Mowry and is about a 25-year-old party girl who marries an older man with kids and becomes an “instant mom”.  Sydney Park has been cast as the eldest child and only daughter, Gabrielle (Gabby).
Syd & mom, Kelly

Sydney was born in Philadelphia, PA on October 31, 1997 to a Korean American father and African American mother.  At the age of six, using the moniker “Syd the Kid”, she became the youngest person ever to perform stand up comedy at the world famous Hollywood Improv.  She has also displayed her comedic talents on “America’s Got Talent” and “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”.  As an actress, she has appeared in “That’s So Raven” and “CSI: NY”.  In 2011, she starred in her one-girl show “Young, Gifted, Half Black” at the Upright Citizen’s Brigade at the age of 13.

Instant Mom will premiere on Sunday, September 29, 2013.  Check it out at Nick Mom TV.  

Monday, September 2, 2013