It’s easy to identify why it’s sad when people of color change their appearance to look more white. When Asians undergo plastic surgery to make their eyes bigger and their features more European. When people of color subject themselves to harmful chemicals to whiten their skin or straighten their hair. These things are sad because society has told people of color that whiteness is more beautiful than whatever they are, and they’ve so deeply internalized these messages that they change themselves to conform to these standards of beauty. It’s an ugly but understandable consequence of oppression.
But when a white person changes their appearance to look more like a person of color… I have a much harder time identifying why that makes me uncomfortable.
Xiahn, a 25-year-old Brazilian man, has generated some buzz lately for undergoing more than 10 plastic surgeries to look Korean. He was obsessed with Korean culture, he studied abroad there for a year, and there he decided that he wanted to have the surgeries.
All of this is disturbing to me, but I’ve had a hard time articulating exactly why.