Sunday, March 29, 2009


Paula at Heart, Mind & Seoul posted about people in a restaurant mistaking her for Kristie Yamaguchi and/or Margaret Cho:

Aside from the black hair, I think I resemble Kristi Yamaguchi and Margaret Cho about as much I resemble my adoptive parents. It's not that I'm offended because I think I'm better looking than either one of them - quite the contrary. It's offensive because in reality, I think we resemble each other so little that it tells me that those who state these opinions as virtual facts are not taking the time or making the effort to look at us as individuals, but rather see me and other Asians as a "you people all look the same" kind of mentality. I'm Asian. I'm in my thirties. I have long black hair. I wear make-up. Yes - of course! I must be Kristi Yamaguchi!!! Silly me for not recognizing it sooner.

I can't help but think. . . if this same server (and her other customers) happened to see a sixty-something year-old White woman in a striking tailored pantsuit with perfectly coiffed hair, expensive looking shoes and a few wrinkles on her face, would she even consider going up to her and asking her if she was H1llary Rodh@m Clint0n?

Somehow I think not.

Well, today, the girls and I go to lunch at Applebee's, and the server tells me how much the girls look like "the twins" from Jon & Kate Plus 8! She said when the girls first walked in she almost rushed up to ask for their autographs. Sheesh. For one thing, my girls are 3 years apart in age and at least 12 inches apart in height!
Here's what I wrote about folks asking if Zoe and Maya are twins when we were in China:

But I'm also amazed that I get LOTS of comments -- especially from the grandmothers on the school playground -- that Zoe and Maya look so much alike. I've always been dismissive of that comment when it's made in the States by non-Chinese. I've figured it was just the black hair, similar haircut, and Asian eyes that was inspiring the look-alike comments. They look COMPLETELY different to me! Zoe's mouth is wider, Maya's nose is just a tiny dot in the middle of her face, and their skin tones are very, very different.

But when I hear from Chinese people that they look alike, I guess I'll have to start believing it! But I still think the "are they twins" question is just plain silly . . . .

I STILL think the girls look nothing at all alike. And I don't think they look AT ALL like the Gosselin twins. And I do think it has something to do with the "they all look alike" attitude that Paula identifies. But our experience in China makes me less certain of that . . . .


Lynne said...

I agree that Zoe and Maya do not look alike.

Sometimes I think people are just making conversation just to make conversation or find out information. Call it "fishing", perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Two of mine are three years apart and I've been asked if they are twins, also. I have been told by a Chinese friend that they look alike. I don't think they look at all alike, though they do come from the same province. Chinese people tell me they are obviously from Southern China. Maybe the differences are more obvious to us because we know them so well?


Mei-Ling said...

Every time I print off an Asian haitcut from the Internet (to get my hair done), my mom *always* asks if it's my sister.

*in my head: No, Mom, that is NOT my sister just because she happens to look Chinese*


Sure, even I have trouble distinguishing Asian ethnicities (I still can't differentiate between Japanese and Koerans), but hey, I grew up being surrounded by white Caucasians so my mind is having to re-process appearances when I go into Asian supermarkets. I mean, really, people should spend time for a few hours looking at Asian websites and taking a VERY good look at Asian facial features - they don't all look alike.

In fact, many of them look very different.

P.S. Zoe and Maya don't really look alike.

Wendy said...

I agree, it is part of "they all look alike" syndrome. Maybe you could comment back to them about their clearly not twins, twins.

Anonymous said...

In response to Mei-Ling, I'm not sure you have trouble distinguishing just because you grew up in Canada. I have had this discussion with a Chinese friend from Taiwan. She told me there's no way to distinguish except by looking at how someone is dressed - kind of like Caucasian people might be able to distinguish a Caucasian American from a Caucasian Russian. She said doesn't see any consistent differences in features between Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese.

I know from my own experience growing up in the Philippines, however, that Filipinos and Malaysians look very different from Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese people.


Spring said...

We get the twins question a lot too. Girls have different complexions, hair colors, facial features, and are also several years apart in age. We've gotten so accustomed to it we just laugh now :)

Anonymous said...

actually I do think that Paula looks a lot like Kristi Y. I stumbled across an old America's top model last night and there were twin sisters competing. It was so weird looking at them - apart, they looked identical, but side by side, they were just slightly different. Yet identical twins. And I have two co-workers who are identical twins, and apart, you do a double take, but together, they don't quite look exactly alike. So while I can see Paula getting her shorts in a bunch because "all Asian people look alike", I think she is over reacting. She does have a strong resemblance to Kristi Y.

My daughter has a strong resemblance to a Chinese friend's niece. Looking at their pictures, you would think they were the same child. But I've certainly seen hundreds of pictures of Chinese girls who look nothing like my daughter. It just seems like Paula is carping about a non-issue.

Elizabeth J.