Asian Moms and their Stereotypes

Representations of Asians on YouTube and in media

by Cassandra Rodriguez

Asians moms, like all moms in general, are often caricatured and stereotyped in media, as we found out in chapter 6 of our textbook.

Moms have always been the center of most family drama and scrutiny, however, when that family happens to be Asian, the mom role takes on a whole new set of expectations and mannerisms that are otherwise foreign to non-Asian media consumers.

Tiger Mom

While there are many YouTube videos and Vines that poke fun at these stereotypes, many Asian Americans find that most of these stereotypes and exaggerations are based on a certain degree of truth– which is what makes them so entertaining.

While for non-Asians, these types of videos serve as comedic exposure to the realities of others, for Asians they serve as a way to laugh about how true these stereotypes are.

These videos above are part of a multi-video series created by the Fung Brothers about the many different things Asian parents say and do. I have watched all of these videos, and have found that Asian moms generally have the following characteristics:

  • Being very frugal with money (cheap, saves every bit of food and doesn’t use the AC)
  • Being very strict with their children in terms of academics and behaviors
  • Having high expectations for the future of their children’s (Doctor only mentality)
  • Being hypercritical of their children (physical appearance, friends, expecting perfection)

In the media, Asian women often fall under the Tiger Mom or China Doll stereotype, meaning that their characters are often either strict mothers or pretty faces, but not much else. Other times, they are given the Dragon Lady stereotype, as seen in these movie stills.

Dragon Lady

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In movies, Asian women are hardly on the side of the protagonists. The Dragon Lady stereotype portrays Asian women as being highly skilled in martial arts, often as sexy villains who are dangerous but beautiful. Another thing to note is their general mannerisms- they are quiet, speaking little to no words, and often speaking in their native language when they do. They are cold, unfeeling, unkind and only have their own interests in mind. Hu Li from Rush Hour 2 is a great example of this stereotype. She is a spy on a mission to kill agent Carter and agent Lee, and does so by being manipulative, stealthy, and ruthless, often showcasing her mastering of martial arts.

Model Minority

Asians generally have the “model minority” label on them, as it is often portrayed in media that Asians study hard and make the best grades. Culturally, this stereotype can sound very positive, but can actually have negative effects on Asian children.

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With this model minority label, Asians can experience more pressure than other races to perform well academically and be perfect. This high expectation can cause them to question their worth if they perform less than flawlessly, and beat themselves up for underperformance in school and even in music skills or extra curricular activities. It can also result in them being disliked or outcast by their peers.

In The Proud Family, the Chang triplets are a perfect example of this stereotype. They are known as being the smartest kids in school, and are naturally gifted at everything. Penny and her friends consistently express their annoyance and dislike for the triplets. Their successes are often obnoxious and aggravating for the other kids. Sadly, as a result of this, the Chang triplets do not have any real friends, other than each other.

Asian Diversity 

Another problem in media is that Asians are often represented as a single nationality– often Chinese or Japanese. The “Asian” label lumps together dozens of different nationalities and cultures, when in fact they are all vastly different and unique from one another.

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To simply categorize all of these countries and their cultures as a single, unified culture ignores the fact that Asians come in many different colors, sizes, backgrounds and faces.

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It is important that we recognize these differences and educate ourselves on the diversity of Asian people. Asians represent a majority of the world’s population and 49+ different countries, and should not be culturally limited to a single or even a few stereotypes.

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