Thursday, August 19, 2010

"Asian Fit" Glasses

Interesting and thought-provoking perspective of an Asian adoptive parent with an adopted child from Taiwan -- keep reading and you'll get to the part about glasses:

I still belong to some adoption groups, and usually ignore the emails flying back and forth, but happened to read one recently that totally got my back up. An AP wrote something about how it took forever to find glasses that would fit her newly adopted older children “because the bridges of their noses are so flat. OK, nonexistent.” In a follow-up email she referred to her son’s chin as “the biggest protrusion on his face.” Who says things like that? A non-minority who is so secure in how people should look. But based on other things she says, it seems she really is trying. Still, I wish she would watch how she says things about her children. These are kids who now live with white people in a super white area who stand out because they look different from everyone else around them and they don’t need their white parents to say shit like that.

I have to say again that I don’t consider myself an angry Asian (though lately I’ve been thinking I might be a closet angry Asian). But it really bothers me to know that around the country, there are a ton of Asian children who were adopted by people like the AP mentioned above, or worse. How many APs are not even on these forums at least trying to talk about racial issues? How many of them don’t think about or care about the loss of their children’s cultural identity? Who think the best way to deal with racism towards their children is to ignore it? Given the number of adopted children from Taiwan, and the number of APs in my forums, I’d have to say a lot of APs out there just don’t care and don’t make it a priority. That bothers me a lot.

But I get why they don’t. Being a parent is hard enough to begin with without throwing all that other stuff in. To quote myself from my more clueless days, “People who adopt just want a baby to love. They don’t want to join a crusade.” So yeah, I get that – but I’ve changed my mind. Now I think if you do plan to adopt a child that is of a different race than you, then you have a duty to educate yourself and them about their birth culture, and expose them to the food, people, and language of that culture. And not say shit about their flat noses.
I agree that saying shit about your child's Asian features is out of bounds.  And there are lines of glasses designed for better fit for Asian features -- like this company, for example, which explains why "fit" is different for many Asians:

Most of the eyewear products available are tailored for Caucasian features. As Asian facial characteristics are different than those of Caucasians, it’s no wonder Asians have scarce choices of eyewear products that fit them properly. Asians have higher cheekbones and lower nose bridges, so the hunt for the right eyewear could be a frustrating experience.

After almost two years of trial and error, the TC Charton eyewear collection is ready to offer optical frames and sunglasses that will truly fit Asian features. While no Asians have the same head sizes and nose bridges, all of TC Charton eyewear models offer the following components that will address the common needs of Asian features.

•Less front curvatures
•Narrower distance between the lenses
•Extra long pad arms for the metal models so one can easily adjust the desired distance and height of the nose pads
•Extra high and pronounced nose pads in all plastic models so the frames can sit properly on the bridge and will not slide down or sit on the cheeks.
But what about this post, titled Oakley "Asian Fit" Sunglasses: Offensive, or Brilliant?:

I recently learned about Oakley's Asian Fit sunglasses, and initially, I was a little offended, because the implications of making an Asian Fit mean that the "normal" fit would be Caucasian, and once again heteronormativity is portrayed as a white male, while everyone else is labeled as "other." Or in other words, everyone who is not white is seen as a freak (Am I reading too deep? Perhaps, but if you get offended and can't realize why, it probably boils down to something along these lines.). Even though I think they should call it something else like "Class A" fit or whatever, once I put aside my initial reaction, I decided it was brilliant. Eyewear should be made to fit everyone well, and I hope the trend spreads to everyday glasses.
So what do you think of "Asian fit" glasses -- offensive or brilliant?


Anonymous said...

I think many types and styles of prescription and sunglasses should be made available because people do have different facial features. But for an AP (or anybody else, really) to speak insultingly about someone's face is incredibly offensive. I'm a white person with a relatively large nose and nose bridge. Is that somehow better than being Asian with a smaller nose and nose bridge? It really doesn't look better to me...

Anonymous said...

Malinda! I think we'll all agree that talking about anyone's facial features in that way is inappropriate to say the least.

But you must have read my mind because the "Asian" fit glasses has me (and most of my Asian & AP parents) very excited! Because it's practical! It's nice to be able to walk into an optometrist and find glasses that don't dig into the top of my cheekbones! I was so thrilled to see at my optometrist just last week, a new line of Coach brand "Asian" fit glasses. I think they are branded "alternative fit" but they had the extra (clear) padding across the nose bridge, etc. It is a GOOD THING. It is not insulting, just like being able to buy professional, comfortable shoes and clothing is not insulting (but not easy when you are a 4'11" 90 lbs professional adult). My FB friends were all very excited to see my status about the Asian fit glasses last week :) Thanks for spreading the word!

Jae Ran said...

This is why every time I go to Korea I stock up - there, not only are glasses *way cheaper* but they ALWAYS fit my face!!

:-) my small bridge and high cheekbones are the NORM there.

june said...

Hi Malinda, thanks for linking. Yeah, I've always had the problem with eyeglasses too, and got contacts as soon as my parents would let me. I was pretty excited about the Asian fit sunglasses as well, but the Oakleys are just not very feminine (at least the last time I checked). I don't think it's insulting, really... because how else would they market it to Asians? Still, that doesn't mean I like what they named it.

JBH said...

Asian-fit glasses by Oakley: brilliant.

Recognizing differences in facial structure: brilliant.

Holding one feature out as better than another: offensive.

Enough said:-).

malinda said...

Hey, Raina -- I didn't read your mind, I read your facebook post! I looked all over to find where I'd heard of "Asian fit" glasses first, and didn't think to look at FB, searched through TONS of blogs I read in the past few weeks looking for it so I could give credit where credit is due!

When you get old, it's not the knees, it's the memory that goes!

alainaw30 said...

I haven't read the original post, but I myself have made notice of the fact that I can't find sunglasses that stay on my daughter because of her lack of a bridge. I also know that her nose is my favorite part of her sweet little face. I hardly think that I'm speaking in a derogatory way about her face, so much as stating a fact. I would speak the same way about my own features, or the features of my husband. We are all made differently...heaven forbid everybody looks like me, isn't that part of the beauty of humanity?

"M" said...

I read your blog, but don't typically post. This timing of this post was perfect for me, as just yesterday I was told that my 4 year old daughter from China needs glasses. Our doctor sent us in the direction of a particular shop for the glasses, which is really out of the way because she felt they had good experience dealing with children from Asia. I didn't take offense to anything she said as she described the difference in facial features, and in fact was grateful that she educated me enough to insist I go to a certain set of stores over less expensive and more convenient ones. I now am armed with even more helpful info and a little to think about, too. Thanks!

Elaine said...

Which explains why I had such a hard time finding a pair of glasses to fit my large German/American nose/face in Asia. I envy my daughter's small button noses.

Anonymous said...

JBH said it all perfectly.


Alyson and Ford said...

Very excited about finding your post..... our daughter does need glasses that fit her facial features. Will check out the companies.
As an AP, who has read alot, has Korean cousins, it still does not prepare one for the journey of Caucasian and Asian differences. We do learn as we grow together.

Alyzabeth's Mommy for 23 Months!

Anonymous said...

Well, my Chinese daughter has very stylish glasses from Walmart that don't fit all that great. She gets compliments on them and she likes them, so I am biting my tongue on my issues with the fit. I wonder how much those "Asian fit" glasses cost. I would be happy if you could get such glasses in a normal store. I'm not a huge Walmart fan, but their guarentee for kid's glasses is great!

kalyxcorn said...

oh there are so many glasses i would love to get but had to pass on because the bridge wasn't right. call it whatever u want, i could care less so long as I get that fit! :)

Karen said...

I'm super excited because I visited my optometrist today, and she said that Converse now makes all of their glasses with an "Alternative Fit" option! Finally, I can get a pair of plastic glasses in the US that actually fit! I'm ordering my pair in May!

Anonymous said...

This online store has just Asian fit eyeglasses - This is where I got mine.

Anonymous said...

This post came up on Google because I was looking for sunglasses and noticed some websites had "Asian fit"

Can't say I'm particularly offended as an Asian, though I think the manufacturers would be doing everyone a favour by just calling the glasses what they are - glasses designed with for people with flatter bridges.

Sure, most people fitting that description are probably Asian, but why not cast a wider net? I'd hate to be that white guy with a flatter nose who couldn't find glasses that fit because some eyeglass salesperson didn't offer me the "Asian fit" ones.

TJ and Ron Gorman said...

I empathize with the labeling of the glasses. However, it is a pain in the tush trying to find glasses for my 3 year old son. I live in a fairly big city, with a great adoption community and yet I called 5 places today and none could guarantee me glasses that would fit. The one store that could, I didn't like the sales person. I may have to suck it up and go back though becuase he needs them and I want glasses that will be comfortable. it's going to be hard enough to get him to keep them on his adorable face let alone if they didn't fit. And the company you mentioned doesn't sell children's glasses. Darn it!

Pei Atreides said...

Sorry, I know that this post is old, but I still want to leave my two cents :) I stumbled upon your post while looking for Asian fit glasses on google.

I moved to the US from Asia a couple years ago and it has been difficult for me to find the right sunglasses. I never feel offended in any way with the term Asian fit. I'm not sure which country you live in (sorry I didn't bother to check), but since I live in the US where the majority has western facial features, of course the regular fit would be those for western features, hence the alternative is named Asian fit. I really don't think those companies meant that some races are the normal "fit" than the others. I think it's just how the general population is.

When I went back to my home country a month ago, they never market their glasses as Asian fit, just because most of the glasses are intended for Asian in the first place. I didn't check though if there was such thing as westerner/American/European fit back there.