LSE is one of the most international universities in the world, and interracial couples aren’t uncommon – don’t get me wrong, I think this is a good thing. It only starts to get icky when someone says something like “My type is only this race,” or that ‘“This race’s women are just so much more attractive than everyone else,” or that “being this race just automatically makes you at least 2 points hotter.” It’s super weird, not flattering and we all want you to please go away.
Urban Dictionary – the worlds most reliable lexicographical source – defines “Yellow Fever” as “sexual obsession felt by a non-Asian (usually white, usually male) towards Asians of the opposite gender.” Although this term refers to those who are racially East Asian, as many people of colour know, the concept extends much further.
My relationship with the colour of my skin hasn’t been simple. I grew up in East Asia, but I was in the minority because I’m brown. I used to say to my parents as a child that I wished they would paint me peach, which sucks to think about. I got over it eventually. Almost immediately afterwards I was confronted with this weird world no one ever warned me about – one in which my skin would be tied to my sexuality and be used to harass me, making me feel dirtier than any casual racism I experienced as a child ever did.
I first got glasses when I was 13. My eyesight isn’t particularly bad, but I needed them to read whiteboards. I got these great black and blue squarish frames and was so excited to wear them to school the next day. I was a weird kid; I really looked forward to getting braces too. A boy in my class stopped me as we were leaving and told me how I reminded him so much of Mia – “Mia who?” “Oh she’s really talented, get inspired! Mia Khalifa.”
When I figured out who she was, I wanted to claw my eyes out. I was 13. They were just glasses. I spent much of the rest of my time in school squinting.
I used to think that being brown made me ugly, but trust me, fetishizing comments makes me feel worse. I cannot emphasise this enough, they are not compliments. Being attracted to people of colour is way different to fantasies of our mystical exotic heritage. Because it’s not me fetishists find attractive, it’s their fantasy. And the core of that is racist.