There are lots of forums and websites that discuss the question of whether Asian girls are attracted to Western men (and vice-versa). Nevertheless I decided to express my own view on the subject because it is related to the general topic of this series of posts. I think it is undeniable that this mutual interest exists, although it affects only a small part of the population (how small or large, of course no one can tell). Of course, there are many individuals who truly love each other and I’m not trying to belittle their genuine feelings or personal experience. What I’ll be discussing in this post is rather a general trend referred to a certain part of the population.
How can we explain this phenomenon? The first and most obvious thing is mutual physical attraction. As I mentioned in my post about the cult of cuteness in East Asia, Asian girls tend to accept a social-role that leads them to act and behave in a way that emphasizes their femininity, fragility, softness and subordination to men (at least on the surface). Many Asian girls also know how to take care of their appearance; they want to be skinny, they know how to use make-up etc. Let me repeat that I am not talking about every Asian girl, of course, but about a certain segment of the population (yet a large one, as far as I could observe).
Western men, on the other hand, possess certain physical and ‘social’ qualities that Asians seem to value: white skin, height, big eyes, social status etc. (of course, not every Westerner possesses all of these qualities). Actually, there is nothing wrong with being physically attracted to people from other countries. I want to try to be as objective as possible, so I will explain this point through an example that has nothing to do with Asia. I asked myself the question: why are north-European blonde girls popular in Italy? I think if we answer this question we can also understand better why some Asians and Westerners feel mutual attraction for each other.
I must admit that when I was a teenager I was obsessed with blonde girls. I remember when I went to England for the first time and saw many blonde girls I was overwhelmed. Though not all Italians share the same feeling, blonde girls from Germany, Sweden, Norway etc. are extremely popular in Italy and in Mediterranean countries in general. Why is that? Some people say it’s because they’re exotic. But if it were true, then all girls who look different should be popular, too, which doesn’t seem to be the case. Women from Muslim countries, for instance, may be exotic, but I doubt whether they’re particularly sought-after.
I think the reason lies rather in the fact that ‘nordic’ girls represent a particular ideal of beauty. I don’t know exactly why this is so. Interestingly enough, blondness was for centuries regarded as an attribute of beauty, and I wonder if I was unconsciously influenced by that.
Blondness as a symbol of beauty dates back to the Greek and Roman world. For example, Ovid in Ars Amatoria and the Epistles mentions this motif. Blonde hair as a symbol of beauty continued to exist in medieval Europe, where it was considered as a reflection of positive moral characteristics. Blonde hair symbolised light and brightness as opposed to darkness. “Blonde hair became part of a standardised code of earthly feminine beauty and romance in literature” (Pitman 2008, p. 61). Blonde hair was therefore associated with women who were both morally good and of high social status. Petrarch’s Laura is blonde and her blondness is one of the major motifs of the Canzoniere. Boccaccio’s six beauties in Ameto and Emilia in Teseida have blonde hair, too (see Bettella 2005, p. 134).
But blondness also assumed a socio-political meaning in the 19th and 20th century. Because of the economic development of Northern Europe, the “northern races” started to see themselves as superior to the rest of the world. Being from the North and looking ‘nordic’ was not just an aesthetic category; it was also associated with power, vitality, strength, purity and martial virtues. The culmination of this phenomenon was, of course, the aesthetic ideal of Nazi Germany, where the “image of the tall, blond, blue-eyed, clean-limbed Nordic” became a fantasy of physical perfection (see Hutton 2005, p. 101).
I still remember that when I was young we had at home a painting of two blonde cute angels. And I have three young nieces who are all blonde and – needless to say – everybody loves them because they’re so cute. So it seems that the ‘nordic’ type is a beauty ideal created under certain social and historical circumstances.
After I moved to Germany, however, my interest in blonde girls soon vanished. I realised two very simple things. First, it is ridiculous to be together with a girl because she is blonde; you can’t base your judgement on such superficial characteristics without looking at a person’s character and at the ‘chemistry’. Second, it became clear to me that there are plenty of beautiful girls who are not blonde. My ex-girlfriend, for example, was of course not blonde, because she is Taiwanese, but in my eyes she was the most gorgeous girl I’d met during my whole stay in Germany.
Be as it may, I would argue that the effect Western men make on a certain segment of the Asian population can be compared to the effect that blonde ‘nordic’ girls make on a certain segment of the male population in Southern Europe.
Let us now look at some socio-economic and aesthetic reasons that can explain why some Asians and Westerners are attracted to each other:
1 – Western men are perceived as handsome due to Asian beauty standards, like the preference for fair skin, big eyes, long eyelashes etc. Furthermore, as far as the character is concerned, they may be perceived as more easy-going, romantic, open-minded etc.
2 – Some Asian girls who are not popular with their own fellow countrymen may resort to Western men; for example, girls who earn much (and therefore cannot easily find a richer partner), or who are not considered pretty by Asian standards etc., may think that Westerners are more suitable partners for them because they do not share Asian men’s ideal of female subordination and beauty standards (I will explain later why this is a double-edged sword).
3 – Since for decades Western countries were seen as richer and more developed than Asia, the good image somehow has stuck to Westerners. In a comparable way, the myth of the more developed northern Europeans has stuck to them and defines their collective reputation and image. Consequently, some Asian girls perceive Westerners as image-enhancing, just like men, if you will, who might show off their beautiful girlfriend as a status symbol.
Why are Western males attracted to Asian girls?
1 – As I mentioned before, the hierarchical and role-specific nature of Asian societies leads girls to display their femininity in order to fit in certain gender-roles and the expectations of men. I will explain this point more in detail later. Now I would just like to stress that Western men might feel drawn to the aesthetic ideal of soft, cute and submissive femininity some Asian girls project. However, this is, too, a double-edged sword, because these qualities are not always the reflection of a girl’s true personality. I will show in the next post why the foundations of marriage and dating in East and West are very different, and why therefore femininity is defined in different ways.
2 – Some Westerners consider Asians ‘easy’ which in my view is the result of Asians’ dating and marriage behaviour.
3 – Some Westerners who wish to start a stable family may think that Asian girls are more virtuous and reliable than their Western counterparts.
There is also two another reasons, common to both Asians and Westerners, why they might like each other. 1) some people tend to project on their foreign partner their own wishes and expectations, which are sometimes quite unrealistic. For example, some Asian girls expect from Western men not only the good qualities that they attribute to the West, but also the ones they find in Asian men. For example, Western men should be romantic, open-minded and warm-hearted, but also accept the typical Asian male gender-role of the main bread-earner, of the one who spoils his girl and takes care of her, who pleases his parents-in-law etc.
In the same way, Westerners expect Asians to have all the advantages of their own image of the Asian girl, but they may not see or may not want to see some aspects of Asian thinking that is perhaps less compatible to common Western standards.
2) A person from abroad, from another culture, represents the ‘otherness’. Some people are drawn to a foreign partner out of interest in other cultures and languages, or because this seems to them a way to escape from the uniformity and problems of everyday life.
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