Olivia Rodrigo’s sophomore album “Guts,” released on September 8, has garnered attention from Asian American fans for its opening track, “all-american bitch.”
Key details: Some TikTok users say the song is a powerful statement that reclaims the phrase “all-American” for Asian American women, challenging the stereotype of blonde-haired, blue-eyed Americans. Rodrigo, who is brown-eyed and brown-haired, was born to a Filipino father and an American Irish mother.
What it means to be American: In the pop-rock song, Rodrigo explores her feeling of misplacement in American society and how she feels she isn’t doing enough to be a “perfect American woman.” According to TikTok user Hannah C (@loudhannahbanana), the track addresses Asian Americans’ common feeling of not being considered truly American by society and the expectation to conform.
Rodrigo has previously faced criticism regarding her Asian heritage, with some people denying her Asian identity and perceiving her as only a white American. Although the 20-year-old has become a role model for many Asian American girls, the debate about her heritage has been ongoing.
“She doesn’t just reclaim it, she also comments on the fact that oftentimes Asian Americans aren’t seen as American. We’re seen as foreigners or outsiders,” Hannah says. “In the outro she sings, ‘I’m grateful all the time.’ And that’s what we’re expected to be. So grateful to be in America and if we aren’t grateful or good enough or contributing, people tell us to go back to our country.”
Expectations placed on Asian women: The song also resonated with Asian American women who often face fetishization and commodification on platforms like dating apps. TikTok user Maggie Zhou (@maggie_zhou) said that the release of Rodrigo’s “GUTS” album was a “big day for Asian girls everywhere.”
“All-american bitch encapsulates the Asian woman experience and the expectations put on a hyper-sexualized but demure community,” Zhou shares. “Love to see Miss Rodrigo dismantle the model minority trope. Go queen.”
In the video, Zhou plays the part where Rodrigo sings, “I’m grateful all the time / I’m sexy, and I’m kind / I’m pretty when I cry.”
Many Asian American TikTok users have expressed agreement with this interpretation of Rodrigo’s song, emphasizing that it redefines the notion of being “all-American” and speaks to their personal experiences.