Last week, an infographic that asked “Who’s Your Token Asian?” went viral within Asian mmunities from various parts of the world.
Created by a Chinese-Australian student named Joy Li, the poster depicts the various societal expectations Asian women are typically subjected to.
According to the 20-year-old student at the University of Technology in Sydney, the piece was a part of a series titled “Living as an Asian Girl”, which was created as a school project.
In an interview with Buzzfeed, Li explained that the poster shows the “lose/lose situation that Asian women face as they must continually choose between different societal expectations or risk being isolated by both sides.”
In fact, the entire series was inspired by her own experiences living as an Asian-Australian woman. Originally from China, Li’s family migrated to Australia when she was just 1 year old.
She also described her project as “a representation of the contemporary lives of Asian girls living in Western societies.”
“I had always considered myself as an ‘Australian’ without the need for the addition of ‘Asian,’ but I was perhaps ignorant to have thought that,” she said.
Two other posters are included in “Living as an Asian Girl”.
“Dear Joy, I ____ You,” is a collection of everyday phrases spoken in Li’s own household. Arranged in a grid according to their frequency of use, tonal value, and emotional impact.
“A Sad Ballad for Asian Girls,” using data collated from Twitter searches relating to “Asian women” and “Asian girls”, Li charted the opinions of internet users in various shades from what she felt were offensive (black) to empowering (white).
While it was not Li’s intention to publicize her project online as she felt it was personal, she received overwhelming support from Asian women in different parts of the world, revealing how such themes can be universal.
“Something I’ve been working on is the importance on having an opinion and I hope in the future it will manifest into something greater,” Li was quoted as saying. “So all is good, except my parents still don’t understand it.”
Li further explains the importance of knowing one’s identity and how each is viewed from the outside.
“Asian-Australian women — or from any Westernized background — need to be supported, and for them to understand themselves, they need to understand their own history, family structure, cultural background, as well as the gendered and racial structures that influence the way they see themselves and are seen by others.”
Prints of her posters may be purchased here.