I used to hate being Korean. I grew up envying the blond-haired, blue-eyed, skinny white girls on TV and the movies. It was hard not to hate my small eyes and flat features when all I ever saw in the media were portrayals of white beauty. Even my parents wanted me to get a nose job and shave down my cheekbones because that’s what they thought was beautiful ― not our faces, but theirs.
I was ashamed of how we looked to everyone else: uncivilized, loud, smelly with garlic breath, and dumb with our broken English and awkward accents. I hated how enmeshed and closed off my family was and how it seemed like nothing outside of us was allowed in and we weren’t allowed out.
I used to hate being around other Asians ― in part because like most Korean Americans, I grew up in the church and thought that all Koreans were judgmental Christians, but also because I refused to accept that I was anything like them.
I hated how Asians traveled together in flocks and how abrasive their…