I initially made this video for my Asian American Studies class on Race, Gender, and Sexuality based on a spoken word piece I had performed. I'm an avid subscriber to many Asian American beauty vloggers and watch their videos as a way to engage in self-care or general procrastination; and because I adore make-up as a hobby for my artistic expression. I admire the work that beauty vloggers do on YouTube, but I'm still a critical media consumer to a fault and end up writing papers on these subjects instead. This video is an extension of my never-ending analysis of the multifaceted realm of Asian American YouTube.
I created a typical video makeup tutorial that would be found on Youtube in terms of style, but instead of the voice-over being a guide about applying make-up, it was instead a spoken word about my personal experiences within Asian America - through learning about our history, understanding how we are racialized subjects, being in the diaspora, to dealing with various forms of racism and ethnosexualization.
I wanted to play with the current hypervisibility of Asian American women on YouTube who specialize in creating video content related to makeup, beauty, fashion, and lifestyle. Individual Asian American beauty vloggers have channels with hundreds of thousands to millions of subscribers - making this presence significant to the rise of an Asian American self-created, but aspirational femininity that is meant to be emulated. YouTube exists as a platform "informed by the structures of capitalism, labor, and consumerism", and although Asian American women have entered - and possibly disrupted mainstream white beauty discourse - unfortunately, only a narrow range of Asian American women (East and Southeast Asian, thin, attractive, etc.) are visible, considered beautiful, and achieve monetary success on YouTube and beyond.
Despite the significance of popular content created by these Asian American women, a conversation with producer Christine Chen of Wong Fu Productions revealed that non-beauty related content by Asian American women remains underrepresented on this platform. More narrative and creative works are not afforded the same kind of reach as that of Asian American men on Youtube.
Following this discussion with Christine Chen, I felt inspired to create a video which explores a more nuanced representation of typical Asian American femininity - through a monologue which combines various themes of makeup and how they relate to differing aspects of my Asian American identity juxtaposed with the visual focus on just my external presentation.
The subtitle of my piece, "for those who refuse to be silenced", refers to the many of us who reject the power of institutions, media, and peers who actively silence the voices of marginalized people. For me, this also plays into the idea of how Asian women are stereotyped as being quiet, silent, and submissive both politically and sexually, and the hope that my "makeup tutorial" will counter that.