NYU’s ACE (Asian Cultural Expressions) Fashion Show concluded last night. Sadly, I had to miss it due to family obligations but from what I hear from our model Danielle Yu,
(yeah, you remember her! She modeled for us at Style360 at the TC Charton booth) who was in the show, it went off without a hitch. Our TC Charton eyewear rocked the runway. Super exciting! Pictures to follow once we get them!
Not to date myself, but I remember attending the ACE Fashion Show as a young NYU student back in the day. That was like centuries ago and it took place in the decrepit Loeb Student Center which has since been demolished and turned into the sleek Kimmel Center. See? Totally dating myself.
ACE is in its 29th year, and it looks like they are continuing the tradition of empowering young Asians, by highlighting our cultures, our achievements and yes, our unique beauty. I remember watching my first ACE show back in the day.
At the time, Asians in mainstream media were a rarity (still are, imho, but a bit better now). In the late 80’s and early 90’s, Asian roles in movies/TV shows were relegated to the “mystical Asian man,” i.e. Mr. Miyagi of Karate Kid fame, or “my Kung Fu is better than yours” roles or bit pieces with over-sexualized Asian females.
(Don’t get me started on the “Asians are weird/nerdy” roles like “Long Duck Dong” from “Sixteen Candles.”
Or “Asian families are weird,” a la Margaret Cho’s show “All-American Girl.”) Please don’t get me wrong; I respect all these actors and actresses who have paved a difficult path. I just wonder why it’s taking so long for Asians to find a firm foothold in mainstream media.
But I digress.
At my first ACE show as an NYU freshman, I was struck by how gorgeous these student models were, as they walked down the runway with supreme confidence in beautiful clothing. It helped that I actually knew some of the models from classes and clubs, and I knew they had brains to back up the looks. In many ways, it was eye opening.
As a shy Asian who grew up in a primarily white suburb, finding my place was a bit difficult. I was always labeled as the “smart one” or “the one who gets it done.” While those are definitely great labels to have, I always wondered if it also meant, “unattractive.”
I now know that it was just my insecurity talking, reinforced by meaningless bits of pop culture at a time when standards of beauty were different.
Today, I see:
-Danielle Yu (our TC Charton model) taping The A-Style, an all Asian reality show which highlights aspiring Asians trying to get ahead in the entertainment industry (whoa, what?!). http://www.facebook.com/theastyletv
-Supermodel Liu Wen as Victoria’s Secret’s first Asian Angel
-Queens Assemblywoman Grace Meng well on her way to becoming New York’s first Asian American member of Congress
-Fashion Designers Jason Wu, Richard Chai, Alexander Wang, Derek Lam and Eugenia Kim, just to name a few
– The proliferation of authoris like Amy Tan, Marjorie Liu (one of the few female writers for Marvel Comics, with several successful series under her belt) and Charles Yu, acclaimed author of “How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe,” who now has a movie deal. And can’t forget “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” by Amy Chua.
The list of successes goes on and on, certainly a lot longer than when I was growing up. I am heartened to think that Asian youth have such a wide range of role models to look up to and mold themselves after. Creativity, passion, drive, hard work, responsibility, beauty and brains.
Asians are in an exciting time and place. I truly feel it. My only question: when will everyone else figure it out.
And… we still have a long way to go.
How will you contribute?