At least that was what a banner ad claimed on CNN. I was taken aback by this banner ad claiming to give the secret to strong, lush hair. Had it been just that, I would have been fine, but why was it advertised as an ASIAN secret?
As if Asians have some sort of secret and mysterious concoction to guarantee such hair? Far be it from being genetic or even particular to an individual – no, it’s Asian. I found the ad to be yet another form of subtle racism reinforcing the stereotype of exotic Asian women, conjuring pictures of geishas and Lucy Liu.
Can you imagine if it had been a Black secret to short curly hair? The European secret to weak, limp, hair? I’m making a bit of an exaggeration to state my case. Why are we so quick to generalize characteristics (even hair types) to certain races? There’s something about the human psyche that needs to place people, things, you name it, into categories, and often we will just pick what appears to be the lowest common denominator and label them. Asians are good at math. African-Americans are good at sports. Caucasians are entrepreneurs. Hispanics are all immigrants. These categories we label are the expressions of deep racism. It’s a racism that springs from a fallen world in which our one-upmanship towards one another is a matter of survival. We survive by determining who we’re like and who we’re different from. We define ourselves by identifying other groups – whether wrongly or rightly – instead of identifying ourselves in Christ. He has to be our ultimate identity, our defining characteristic, not what we look like or what some people of similar heritage take up as a profession. I’m not talking about ignoring the distinctions and the unique beauty of each race, but to market and sell such beauty as a secret or to generalize and thus treat each individual on the basis of that stereotype is straight up wrong.