Let me give you a little background on the issue of Asian male masculinity.
Asian males are the only race who are stripped from their sexuality in stereotypes and entertainment, while Asian women have the highest success rate with online dating. A study by OkCupid states that Asian women in America are being oversexualized.
Asian men are the quiet, harmless, unisexual male counterparts, and the butt end of the jokes. Check out Breakfast at Tiffany’s where an Asian male is portrayed.
The idea that Asian men aren’t sexy is so ingrained in our culture now.
In online dating, Asian men have the lowest response rates.
I believe in America, Asian men are settling for less and getting second best.
We need to get more confident. Confidence is an inside job, but it is also an outer. You can’t discard both because the outer is an expression of your inner.
You might be thinking “Oh but Kevin, Asian’s are more concerned about the inner than the outer.”
Oh really? Have you followed Korean Pop Culture? The constant changing of their skin color, face, and who’s buying all of these designer labels?
Through years of developing and learning, I now believe masculinity has to do with the inside out.
Both outer and inner game need to be worked together to have Asians masculinity given back to us.
I used to believe that masculinity had to do with being the most muscular…hence my over compensating when I was a bodybuilder.
Or showing power over the weaker, which is bullying. I’m very familiar with this because I’ve been on both sides.
I was bullied because the bully was hurt, and then I hurt others because I was hurting and bullied.
That cycle of pain sucks.
Fast forward to an interview with Banana Magazine.
Here I was, feeling defensive and ashamed in the discussion of Asian masculinity at the guest panel with Banana Magazine.
I didn’t feel empowered because I felt like David Li and the rest of the crowd were rooting against Asian masculinity, fitness, confidence, and well-roundedness.
I had to set up a call with David Yi to find out more on his perspective. I respect David and I’m genuinely curious on understanding his perspective on the issue of Asian male masculinity. This time, I had to understand more than be understood.
I had to ask David what his opinion is.
“I want to redefine masculinity which has become a toxic term. Men are seen as fragile, and men have to preserve their manhood,” David Li elaborated.
I asked David to elaborate on self-expression and asked if he thought that the most undesirable men are just not comfortable with who they are.
“Asian men are taught to be timid, not show off, not to be in the forefront…and this is seen as weak and timid.”
I do agree with David. I believe being fragile also comes with the stereotype that Asian men are super skinny, unathletic, and passive.
I also believe that the bodybuilding industry has taken an extreme turn which has to lead to people thinking they have to be a certain way to be considered more of a man. And even in Asian culture, even though I wasn’t brought up this way, we couldn’t show any feelings or express ourselves as a culture.
“In all cultures, we have sex symbols in all ethnic backgrounds…Asian males do not have a solid sex symbol. In other cultures, they’ve been able to express themselves culturally. We typically do not fight for our rights and are quieter, ” said David Li.
I relate to David, because of this, I had to form my version of Asian masculinity growing up since I didn’t have a visible role model.
I asked David, “Do you find that a lot of Asians don’t even try to better themselves in self-development in gaining confidence and self-esteem?”
He responded with, “Be more creative. Self-improve in different ways. A 1990 version of a success story looks like being a lawyer and doctor. You don’t have to be a doctor or lawyer. That just takes study and committing, but not everyone can make their path and be an entrepreneur. People need to be educated…and do amazing, awesome things! It’s easier to be a doctor and lawyer like we were told growing up. Study hard and put in the work.”
I took the message as we are not one noted. We are not mute. We are not just lawyers, doctors, and silent “friend zone” companions.
“Think outside the box. Who would have thought that an Asian could transition into fashion and become an entrepreneur?
Who would have thought that an Asian male could do fitness modeling and have a muscular body like yours?”
This whole time I thought he was telling me that my self-expression and masculinity was wrong, but what it now seems is that we shouldn’t be apologetic about who we are. I heard this in the panel discussion, but sometimes you aren’t ready to hear it until you understand and listen.
I paved my way to what I believe a masculine Asian men should be, since there was no real definition when I was growing up.
When others told me I wasn’t attractive because I was Asian and skinny, I knew I couldn’t change the Asian part, but I always want to prove them all wrong. I did the opposite of what Asian men were seen as.
I did what they told me I couldn’t do. I buffed up and became a professional working model in NYC and coach in fitness and lifestyle.
I spoke out. I expressed myself. I wanted to be tall. (Thank god that worked out on its own.)
But to change your body, it doesn’t cost as much as keeping up with clothes and cars. It’s something that builds your self-image, self-esteem, and confidence, which equals to masculinity.
Instead of just being seen as skinny, nerdy, quiet, Asian men with small dicks, why not be masculine all across the board and be unapologetic?
Fitness, athleticism, great bodies, success, and being sexually desired by all races, shapes, and colors, aren’t just a white person privilege.
You might be thinking that you aren’t athletic genetically and can’t get the body of a fitness model.
That isn’t the point. The point isn’t that one day you are going to be an NBA star like Jeremy Lin or have the body of—let me say it—me.
But what is wrong with doing something that is good for your health and self-esteem and being well rounded?
Changing your body will start to change your perspective on the world and you for the better, not for the worse.
As for David’s last comment on Asian’s needing to support “black lives matter” and “women’s marches,” I agree with him.
But, I disagree that it’s the first step, and he didn’t believe that was the way to end the discussion.
We Asians need to show up for ourselves first.
What that means to me is to improve our confidence, self-esteem, and quality of life first and then come to support and love other Asians…male or female.
Why would anyone want to show up for us if we hate and can’t even love being comfortable in our skin?
It wasn’t until I started self-developing, working on the inner and outer, that I was able to overcome my self-hating and then to start loving my Asian race. Males and Females.
We Asian men are the silent ones and need to evolve just like the rest of the world.
Why would any other race love and respect Asians when we don’t even love and respect Asians?
I’m not here to threaten your masculinity.
I’m here to help you bring it out of you if you want it.
Be you, but the best version.
I hate saying that because it’s corny and overused as shit, but it’s true.
Be yourself, and the best version of yourself, but continually work on being the best version of yourself because there’s always room for improvement.
It’s a continual journey that is not only good for you but for other people.
Be so sexy that they can’t ignore us.
Be More Than Just Muscle.