Stereotypes of Asian Men Focus of Forthcoming Documentary ‘The Ugly Model’

A few years ago, I wrote Debunking the “Model Asian” Myth: Five Ways Asian-Americans Still Face Discrimination for Hippo Reads, which includes the following paragraph:

Justin Chan spoke for generations of Asian men when he wrote, “Are Asian Men Undateable?” in Policy Mic. Years of pernicious stereotypes have branded Asian men as emasculated, weak, asexual, and even too small in a certain department—essentially, editing them out of the most eligible bachelor pool. Not surprisingly, Freakonomics calculated that an Asian man would need to earn $247,000 more than a white man to be equally appealing to a white woman. That’s like requiring every Asian guy to own a Bentley before asking out the white girl next door.

Those stereotypes weigh heavy on Asian-American men of all stripes, including those you would least expect to struggle. Like model Kevin Kreider, a man with a chiseled physique and rock-hard abs who has modeled for Men’s Health, Gillette, Reebok and Abercrombie & Fitch. He shouldn’t be a guy who has to ask, “Can Asian men be sexy?” And yet he does, just like far too many Asian men, who don’t feel attractive.

That’s what the forthcoming documentary The Ugly Model sets out to explore:

Asian men have historically been portrayed as weak, unattractive and never getting the girl (or boy) they desire in Western film and media. We will debunk these myths by finding out how these stereotypes came about in order to dispel them. We hope Kevin’s personal story sheds more light on this topic and can help others who have struggled with shame and feeling less than no matter what race, ethnicity, gender or sexuality they may be.

Basketball superstar Jeremy Lin also makes an appearance in the documentary.

The Ugly Model is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, and they’ve already exceeded their minimum goal! But if you’d like to support them as they reach for more stretch goals, head on over to Kickstarter, where you can also watch a documentary trailer.

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Jocelyn Eikenburg

Writer & blogger at Speaking of China
Jocelyn is a writer, blogger and the creator of Speaking of China, a blog about love, family and relationships in China, including AMWF love. She has been featured on the BBC and CCTV. You can find her writing in The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, the anthologies "How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit?" and "Unsavory Elements", and other publications.
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