For those with Asian (Hapa?) children..... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 63 Old 08-27-2008, 01:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm white, my husband is Korean, so our children are Hapa. Does anyone else use the term Hapa for 1/2 Asian children?

My question is: as a white woman (and mom), white people will say things to me that they might not say to my husband. One thing that has come up is someone saying, "Your children's eyes are not slanted.", and "Your husband has slanted eyes". A white person was saying this, of course.

Anyway, I'm wondering if any other mommies of Hapa children have experienced this, or any Asian mommies or Asian women or men here. If so, what did you say? How would you explain to someone that the phrase "slanted eyes" is rude and racially egocentric and racist?
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#2 of 63 Old 08-27-2008, 02:08 AM
 
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I'm proud of my Hapa baby. "Hapa" is the Hawaiian word for 'half' and it was originally a slur, but the half-Asians reappropriated it as a positive label. I knew I was going to have Hapa children (I'm Chinese) because my husband is white, so I looked up the social margin that half-Asians live in. I've been studying what stigmas my children will have to deal with, so that I can best prepare them.

Half-Asian children will be asked "What ARE you?" due to their varied/exotic looks which people can't quite pin down.

To address your question, I am an Asian mama, and I have never had any strangers say anything about the "slant" of DS's eyes. Though, neither has my husband. When DH was walking around with DS, people asked if he was half-something. His parents and relatives say DS looks just like me, while MY parents and relatives say he looks just like DH.

I'm sorry people have been rude and terrible to you about your DH's ethnicity. The next time anyone says that he has "slanted eyes" you should just stare at them like you're confused and say "What EXACTLY does THAT mean?" (pause, wait for the stammering) "Is that some sort of RACIAL comment?"

And if they say anything about your baby's eyes not being slanted, you should stop, and ask "What is that supposed to mean? Should I be GLAD you think my son doesn't look Asian?" (just blink at them while they flounder)

OR you could just say "I don't think that comment is appropriate at all. I love my husband's features, and I love my baby's features."

Essentially, you shouldn't stand for it. Don't nod and smile, because when your son gets old enough to understand those sorts of comments he needs to be able to follow your lead, be calm/confident, and recognize racism.
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#3 of 63 Old 08-27-2008, 02:45 AM
 
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Wow. I am white and my husband is Filipino and I have heard a lot of things but no one has EVER said anything about anyone having or not having slanted eyes. I think if they did I would just do what I usually do for astonishing displays of ignorance: Look at the person with a very innocent, shocked, wide-eyed look and say "What did you say?" Not in an accusing tone, just in a sweet but I-know-you-didn't-just-say-that tone. Repeat as necesary, as sometimes they are dumb enough to repeat their question/comment again. I often hear how my DS doesn't look a thing like me, especially when we are alone without DH. I know they want to ask "where I got him," but so far no one has dared. I have a sort of "don't go there" look about me, I guess!

Oh, and we don't refer to DS as "hapa". I've heard it, but mostly online. No one I know IRL uses it. We usually say "mixed".

It is bizarre the things people will comment on, though, no? My DS has the classic snub filipino nose. and DH's uncle was in town and I guess he commented to MIL that DS was such a good looking baby but he'd be better looking if he ended up with my nose (which I hate my nose! It's too sharp and pointy and too long, in my opinion.) but they think it would look better--it's weird--what different cultures think.

Mama to 2 sweet gorgeous children, a 4-year-old DS and a 1-year-old DD.
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#4 of 63 Old 08-27-2008, 04:27 PM
 
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#5 of 63 Old 08-27-2008, 06:27 PM
 
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angelachristin, your son is a cutie! my boy is half filipino, too.:

OP... honestly, no. we are fortunate to live where we do... i think that half the kids in our playgroup are half asian and half white. totally normal here, and i have yet to have a negative comment. oh wait, i take that back. one time at the grocery store some dude asked me if my son was chinese, and where did i get him from. but other than that, only positive. folks with other half asian kids often ask what ethnicity my husband is, which i think is cool because im usually curious, too.
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#6 of 63 Old 08-27-2008, 06:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, I completely agree that it wasn't malicious, in this case. The person is an old friend whom I love very much, actually. I'm just TERRIBLE at this sort of thing when it's a close friend. Isn't that stupid of me??! I would be very comfortable confronting a teacher, principal, policeman, nurse, anybody in authority -- but with a close friend it's harder for me. So stupid.

Anyway, I think what I said at the time (this was a year ago or more) was, "OH, I think dh and the kids have beautiful eyes. Asian eyes." I'm not sure if she got it or not. That was about all I could muster.

I'm always shocked at how little people sometimes know about this sort of thing -- even after going to college. She was a math/accounting major, and is very, very intelligent. And a nice person. She loves my kids. Anyway, she's ignorant about this sort of thing, big time.

I have another friend who was a science major (hard sciences, not social sciences) and she, too, is ignorant about this sort of thing. They didn't teach this in their math/hard science cirriculum. So, now they are two highly educated women, who are ignorant about race.

I, on the other hand, got TONS of education about race, class, culture, sexuality, religion, ethnicity --- because my major was social work in graduate school. (and psychology in undergrad). All of the electives I took in the social sciences considered everything in the context of race, class, culture, etc..... So, I was lucky.

angelac -- your son is very cute!
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#7 of 63 Old 08-27-2008, 06:44 PM
 
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Originally Posted by angelachristin View Post
My DS has the classic snub filipino nose. and DH's uncle was in town and I guess he commented to MIL that DS was such a good looking baby but he'd be better looking if he ended up with my nose (which I hate my nose! It's too sharp and pointy and too long, in my opinion.) but they think it would look better--it's weird--what different cultures think.
Despite the fact that I am Filipino, I never realized how prevalent the emphasis was on the nose in Filipino culture until I had my own child.
I think one of the first questions asked of me when I gave birth was "what does his nose look like?" LOL

Apparently a lot of Filipino mothers when they give birth, count fingers and toes and then look at the nose.

DS mostly gets color comments (he's relatively tan for caucasians and fair for asian) so it's mostly compliments. My MIL though at one point said something like how DS would never be mistaken for siblings of his cousins because his cousins are all blond and blue-eyed whereas he is dark haired and brown-eyed. To which I responded, "well good. I don't want him mistaken for anybody else's child other than mine and DH's". I just thought it was a really weird comment.

i've never gotten the "slanted eyes" comment. I think that's treading the line a bit. Although to be honest I wouldn't know how to describe "slanted eyes" in a more polite manner either.

I'm really not quite sure about rude comments because my FIL for example says really strange things but I just usually brush it off and tell him, "you know the more acceptable way of saying it nowadays is... " and he is very receptive to it. Sometimes it's just a matter of them not knowing that it's rude, KWIM?
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#8 of 63 Old 08-27-2008, 06:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, I also wanted to share -- a couple of times, ladies have said to me in the store or at a play area, when ds was little, "He's beautiful. Where did you get him?" ......I just looked at them blankly for a second, and then said, "My husband is Korean", without smiling. They were embarrassed and said they were sorry. Both times the ladies said to me, "I hope I didn't offend you..." and then went on to tell a story about a friend who adopted a baby from Japan or China or somewhere. I know those times it wasn't malicious, either. Just ignorant. Hopefully they learned not to ever say that to someone!!! I mean, if you like someones SHIRT, you say, "What a great shirt, where did you get it?", but you don't say that about a human baby!!!

Anyway, what I wanted to say was, "Oh, thank you, he came from my VAGINA".
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#9 of 63 Old 08-27-2008, 06:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Grumpy Bear -- I totally agree. They just didn't realize what was rude.

When I describe my children's eyes, I say "Almond-shaped eyes". I think that's a good description.
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#10 of 63 Old 08-27-2008, 07:14 PM
 
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Originally Posted by angelachristin View Post
Wow. I am white and my husband is Filipino and I have heard a lot of things but no one has EVER said anything about anyone having or not having slanted eyes. I think if they did I would just do what I usually do for astonishing displays of ignorance: Look at the person with a very innocent, shocked, wide-eyed look and say "What did you say?" Not in an accusing tone, just in a sweet but I-know-you-didn't-just-say-that tone. Repeat as necesary, as sometimes they are dumb enough to repeat their question/comment again. I often hear how my DS doesn't look a thing like me, especially when we are alone without DH. I know they want to ask "where I got him," but so far no one has dared. I have a sort of "don't go there" look about me, I guess!

Oh, and we don't refer to DS as "hapa". I've heard it, but mostly online. No one I know IRL uses it. We usually say "mixed".

It is bizarre the things people will comment on, though, no? My DS has the classic snub filipino nose. and DH's uncle was in town and I guess he commented to MIL that DS was such a good looking baby but he'd be better looking if he ended up with my nose (which I hate my nose! It's too sharp and pointy and too long, in my opinion.) but they think it would look better--it's weird--what different cultures think.
In Hawaii the word hapa is used all the time, I think someone mentioned that it is hawaiian word.

And hapas are usually thought of as very good looking, taking the best out of both races! I think it is great to be hapa here in Hawaii!

My son I call mixed because I am South Asian, and my husband is hapa haole(Japanese and white).

Mommy to one adorable little boy and expecting another little bundle of joy in June 2011
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#11 of 63 Old 08-27-2008, 09:14 PM
 
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I'm Korean, my husband is Polish. We never get any comments about DS's looks beyond 'he's so cute!', other than my mother, who used to comment how big his eyes are.

Mom to DS#1 and DS#2 fencing.gif
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#12 of 63 Old 08-27-2008, 10:07 PM
 
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Originally Posted by grumpybear View Post
Despite the fact that I am Filipino, I never realized how prevalent the emphasis was on the nose in Filipino culture until I had my own child.
I think one of the first questions asked of me when I gave birth was "what does his nose look like?" LOL

Apparently a lot of Filipino mothers when they give birth, count fingers and toes and then look at the nose.

DS mostly gets color comments (he's relatively tan for caucasians and fair for asian) so it's mostly compliments. My MIL though at one point said something like how DS would never be mistaken for siblings of his cousins because his cousins are all blond and blue-eyed whereas he is dark haired and brown-eyed. To which I responded, "well good. I don't want him mistaken for anybody else's child other than mine and DH's". I just thought it was a really weird comment.

i've never gotten the "slanted eyes" comment. I think that's treading the line a bit. Although to be honest I wouldn't know how to describe "slanted eyes" in a more polite manner either.

I'm really not quite sure about rude comments because my FIL for example says really strange things but I just usually brush it off and tell him, "you know the more acceptable way of saying it nowadays is... " and he is very receptive to it. Sometimes it's just a matter of them not knowing that it's rude, KWIM?
so what is it about the nose that they are looking for? what do they want it to be like?

and here is a funny, my MIL (so, she's Filipino) made this comment in the hospital after DS was born and the docs were saying he was getting more and more jaundiced: "No. He's fine...he's just that color because he's Oriental."

Mama to 2 sweet gorgeous children, a 4-year-old DS and a 1-year-old DD.
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#14 of 63 Old 08-28-2008, 12:03 AM
 
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I can empathize a lot here as my kids aren't hapa, but I am. : My dh is caucasian so we have varying degrees of Asian characteristics....

My mom got that A LOT since she was the caucasian. ("when did you get her?" ect)

Mostly what I KNOW isn't really a slam but feels abit like one, is how people feel compelled to comment on my kids looks, and it seems mostly because they are noticing them KWIM? and want to seem hip and cool with it. That sounds more snide than I mean it to but I get a lot of compliments that seem excessive (and that coming from someone who thinks they are stunning )

I don't know just putting my .02 in.

ANd I never use the term hapa though I've heard it, I just don't really connect to it, since I heard it as an adult. I like it okay though.
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#15 of 63 Old 08-28-2008, 12:42 AM
 
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Originally Posted by AutumnWind View Post
Anyway, what I wanted to say was, "Oh, thank you, he came from my VAGINA".
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#16 of 63 Old 08-28-2008, 01:52 AM
 
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Originally Posted by angelachristin View Post
so what is it about the nose that they are looking for? what do they want it to be like?
We (Filipinos) tend to have a flatter nose with our nostrils a bit flared. I guess a more Caucasian nose (taller, more streamlined, a bit more pointed) is coveted.

Skin color-wise, Filipinos tend to like fair skin and I understand that Caucasians seem to like a more tanned skin. It's funny how the brand Clinique would market tanning stuff in the US and market skin whitening cosmetics in Asia. I guess it's a case of the grass being greener on the other side of the fence.

About the "oriental" reference, I guess just like your MIL, I actually never knew that it was not ok to refer to people as "oriental" until I got to the US. LOL
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#17 of 63 Old 08-28-2008, 02:06 AM
 
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We (Filipinos) tend to have a flatter nose with our nostrils a bit flared. I guess a more Caucasian nose (taller, more streamlined, a bit more pointed) is coveted.

Skin color-wise, Filipinos tend to like fair skin and I understand that Caucasians seem to like a more tanned skin. It's funny how the brand Clinique would market tanning stuff in the US and market skin whitening cosmetics in Asia. I guess it's a case of the grass being greener on the other side of the fence.

About the "oriental" reference, I guess just like your MIL, I actually never knew that it was not ok to refer to people as "oriental" until I got to the US. LOL
LOL! Well that was part of it, and also the fact that she thought it was normal that her grandson was neon yellow, just because he was "oriental" LMAO. I mean the kid was glowing in the dark, practically.

That is very interesting about the nose thing. I love the Filipino nose, especially on my little DS, I think he would look bizarre with my nose. And I know what you mean about the skin color. My family all thinks DS is so tan and it's cute, but DH's family was happy that he was paler than them and MIL keeps making little comments about how I am letting him get too tan in the sun. I can't help it, his legs get tan being in the jogging stroller every day even though I put sunblock on them every day!

Mama to 2 sweet gorgeous children, a 4-year-old DS and a 1-year-old DD.
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#18 of 63 Old 08-28-2008, 02:16 AM
 
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My husband is Filipino as well. My youngest son looks very asian and I have had many offensive comments directed at us.

My Filipino In-laws are horrified that I produced a child with so few caucasian features. In their words "his skin is too dark and his eyes are too chinky". Yup, they said "chinky". Oh, and I should have put a clothespeg on his nose to narrow it when he was small. Now it's too wide and there's nothing we can do about it.

I have been asked "Where did you get him?" before as well. My answer is always, "I made him myself!"

He's absolutely gorgeous, I love the shape of his eyes, and his skin ... it's like tea with cream in it. The most beautiful colour. (There is a picture of my hubby and our boys in my sig. Our oldest son is from a previous relationship and has been adopted by my DH).
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#19 of 63 Old 08-28-2008, 02:40 AM
 
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Both my DH and myself are 1/2 Asian, and neither of us has almond eyes, and we both have double eyelids too. I have more 1 1/2 than double, but definitely not the stereotypical single eyelid with epicanthic fold. My mom has the fold but not the single eyelid. I think my aunt has single eyelid but not the fold. I'll have to go look at some pictures.
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#20 of 63 Old 08-28-2008, 11:55 AM
 
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My DH is Chinese and I'm white and our daughter is has a darker complexion than me, but not particularly asian-looking eyes. When people find out she's half asian, their comment is often how big her eyes are (although thankfully I've never had anyone use the term slanty, or chinky--that's so awful). People often think she's latino when DH isn't around.

Of course, now that we've adopted our son from Ethiopia, the racial comments are much less often about her. We get a lot of stares...people are pretty confused by our family. A couple weeks ago I was in a grocery store and a woman was literally following me from aisle to aisle for several minutes before she came up and said "Where in the world did you get these cuties?" I said, "Excuse me?" She goes, "Well, they're different. Obviously you didn't make'em yourself, did you?" Me, kinda flustered, "Oh, um, yes, one of my kids is adopted. Have a nice day." and I turned and walked away. Sigh. It's amazing how nosy complete strangers can be.
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#21 of 63 Old 08-28-2008, 12:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My mom got that A LOT since she was the caucasian. ("when did you get her?" ect)
INdigolilybear -- YES. I think the white spouse is more likely to hear these comments about the child's looks, and "where did you get her", and comments about the eyes, because a stranger or a friend would be less comfortable saying these things to an Asian person. KWIM? And I think if the white spouse is a woman, then white people are even more likely to feel comfortable saying something, because women talk to each other in line at the store, etc., than men do.

I also did also have someone use the word "Chink" about my MIL . The person thought I would be okay with it because my MIL hates me and we have a terrible relationship. I was shocked, and I said, "ohmygod, that was ssssssooooooo racist!!!" She floundered and tried to explain, and I said, "my MIL is bad enough on her own, without bringing her race into it. That's just a really bad, racist word to use." The person never used it again around me. But, jeeeeez..........

About the "oriental" term -- I didn't know either, until I learned it in college. The term oriental is okay when you're talking about a rug or something, if you don't know exactly where the rug is from, but not when you're talking about a person. Having said that, I think my in-laws to use that word, and they are Korean. But I know in academia it's really taboo to use that word about a person. Same with the word "exotic" when you're talking about a person.
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#22 of 63 Old 08-28-2008, 01:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The reason I'm so offended by the phrase "slanted eyes", is because it's an Anglo Egocentric term. It implies that "Round Eyes" are the "norm", or the "desired shape" that everyone "should have". That's what I mean about Anglo Egocentric -- thinking that an Anglo eye is supposed to be the "right" shape. When you use the word "slanted", it implies that they are "deviated" from this "round norm". When you look up the word "slanted" you find -- to incline or bend from a vertical position, and that sort of thing. As if you're STARTING from a "vertical position" which would be the round eye. Also, my Korean husband ads that it's a little offensive because it's part of the old stereotype about Asians that they have "shifty, slanted eyes and can't be trusted".
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#23 of 63 Old 08-28-2008, 01:19 PM
 
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My hubby is Filipino and I'm white. People always ask me what the kids are....most people think they're Hispanic. DH is fair skinned for a Filipino, and I'm practically albino so the girls tend to the paler side. It's funny because our oldest looks more like her dad and the baby looks more like me.
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#24 of 63 Old 08-28-2008, 09:50 PM
 
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I am Canadian of half-Japanese descent, and had never heard the term "hapa" until I read it on-line a few years ago. I still haven't heard it in real life. I think it is a fairly local term in the U.S. - but because the American empire has a far reach, it's spread widely, just like the Simpsons, W's oil policy, and peanut butter ;-).

I've heard comments about slanty eyes and honestly still don't really know how to react to them. Thankfully it happens rarely now. I do hear about my son's blue eyes - I just nod and agree that he looks nothing like me. Which is true - he looks just like his dad. The funny thing is that of my 2 children, my son is the one with almond shaped eyes - no one notices though, because of the colour!
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#25 of 63 Old 08-28-2008, 10:37 PM
 
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Oh, I also wanted to share -- a couple of times, ladies have said to me in the store or at a play area, when ds was little, "He's beautiful. Where did you get him?" ......I just looked at them blankly for a second, and then said, "My husband is Korean", without smiling. They were embarrassed and said they were sorry. Both times the ladies said to me, "I hope I didn't offend you..." and then went on to tell a story about a friend who adopted a baby from Japan or China or somewhere. I know those times it wasn't malicious, either. Just ignorant. Hopefully they learned not to ever say that to someone!!! I mean, if you like someones SHIRT, you say, "What a great shirt, where did you get it?", but you don't say that about a human baby!!!

Anyway, what I wanted to say was, "Oh, thank you, he came from my VAGINA".
ANY woman who has the guts to say that, I will love till the day I die. I dont want people to assume (i'm white, DH chinese, baby on the way) that I adopted because my baby will most likely look mostly chinese to white people. I just want everyone to know that i carried this baby around in my belly, and squeezed him out (will squeeze him out), and that I love this baby's father like nothing else in the world!
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#26 of 63 Old 08-28-2008, 10:53 PM
 
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I'm mostly Irish-American and DH is mostly Chinese-Canadian. I almost never get the "where did you get him?" comment since DS really looks a lot like me. He also looks like DH, but not in ways that make him look very Asian. If I was describing DS's ethnic appearance I would say he looks most like an anime character .

Most of the time when we get questions from strangers they have Eur-Asian kids or grandkids themselves. I have to admit that since I had DS I find myself more aware of what other Eur-Asian kids look like. I do however restrain myself from asking strangers about their LOs.

The only truely negative and racist comments we get come from MIL (she is unhappy DS "doesn't look Chinese enough.") We don't see her anymore.

Timmy's Mommy WARNINGyslexic typing with help of preschooler, beware of typos
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#27 of 63 Old 08-28-2008, 10:56 PM
 
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[QUOTE=AutumnWind;12049453]Grumpy Bear -- I totally agree. They just didn't realize what was rude.

When I describe my children's eyes, I say "Almond-shaped eyes". I think that's a good description.[/QUOTE

AutumnWind, I think Almond eyes has a slightly romantic sound to it. I prefer that as well! And I think if anyone made comments about slanty eyes I would say, "Yes, my little one has beautiful almond eyes just like his/her daddy" which sounds like the general feeling of the mamas.
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#28 of 63 Old 08-28-2008, 11:03 PM
 
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I'm Irish-American, DH is Korean (but not culturally). 2 of my children look more like DH, and one looks a LOT like my sister-- not either of us at all (she looks a teeny bit Asian, but not like DH).

I don't think I've ever heard a blatantly rude comment. A friend of a friend wondered (to her) if my DC are adopted (this does not offend me, as I don't think adoption is offensive), and once a young hair stylist asked my DD if she got her "nice tan" from her dad. I thought it was odd as both DH and DD are pretty fair. Other than that, nothing. Most people say, "What beautiful children!"

SO MANY of my friends' children (from an urban area) are like my family . . .1/2 Asian, !/2 white. I didn't meet any of them through any sort of ethnic/cultural group meetings or anything, either. Here in the suburbs, I don't personally know them, but I've seen SO many families like ours as well. It's getting so common . . .

Of course, my DC probably do confuse people, as none of us (not even DH) have an Asian last name . . .they have Scottish and Greek first names, a French last name, and I speak to them in Spanish!

ETA: My friend is Thai-American, DH is German, living in Canada. She was nursing her son, and an Asian nanny came up to her and asked, "Did you have to take drugs to be able to [nurse]?" She thought my friend was a wet nurse, not the mom!

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#29 of 63 Old 08-28-2008, 11:09 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eepster View Post
If I was describing DS's ethnic appearance I would say he looks most like an anime character .
Me, too! My 2nd DD has just a hint of looking Asian, but one of my friends said she looked like children a Japanese woman drew. The first thought that popped into my head was:anime! She has huge eyes (I do not!), wide set (again, I do not!), little button nose (nope!), and she is just too cute. Sometimes I look at my children and can't believe how adorable they are! I'm sure 100% of you feel that way, too!

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#30 of 63 Old 08-29-2008, 12:17 AM
 
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Does my username tell you anything? LOL

I'm hapa myself, one or those terrible mainlander half-Japanese types that have adopted the term.

My kids are 3/4 Japanese though.
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