How To Be A Bad Asian: I Think All East Asian Babies Look The Same

Life is hard enough as an Asian. Not all of us can get perfect SAT scores, graduate from medical school or trick out a Honda Civic. The pressure to embrace our culture remains but sometimes, we just don’t want to. How To Be A Bad Asian is an ongoing series of personal essays by the 8Asians writers about what sets us apart from the API community, how we deal with the stereotypes that we put upon ourselves and why we all can’t be that perfect Asian. It’s time to be bad.

First, I want to make it clear that my son is the bestest, smartest, and cutest baby in the world. I’m not just saying that because I’m his dad. I found this Internet poll confirming it:

Okay, here’s my confession: I secretly think all East Asian babies (especially newborns) look alike – even mine. I know I’m not supposed to think that but I do. It started when some friends posted pictures of their newborn on their Facebook page. I did a double take because their baby kinda looked like mine. Thinking that maybe it was just a fluke, I did an “Asian baby” Google image search and found a bunch of pictures of Asian babies that looked eerily similar to my son.

Here are two that could pass for my child:

Before you send me hate mail, I’m not saying ALL East Asians look alike. Well, not all adult East Asians at least. (Don’t believe me? Read my article, Do All Asians look Alike?) I’m just talking about the little babies.

I have to be honest, this worried me. Does the fact that I think all East Asian babies look alike make me a racist? Or worse yet, a bad dad? To make me feel better (or maybe to make me feel less alone) I decided to scour the Internet to see if anyone else thought the same thing.

I found two people that agreed with me. One was just a passing comment on MySpace and the other was on a personal blog.

Here’s a screenshot of the MySpace comment:

Okay, that’s pretty weak. But it’s proof that someone else thinks like me!  And here’s the blog entry where a person compared a picture of her baby to some babies she/he found on a photography website

What’s crazy to me is that those three baby pics could be pics of my son.

The more I looked into this phenomenon, the more I found that some people (regardless of race) thought all babies looked alike. On this site, an anonymous poster asked if it was normal that she/he thought that all babies looked the same.

Notice that 92% of the people thought it was “normal.” In the comment section, most of the people seemed to agree.

I know this doesn’t prove anything but it does make me feel a little better. And that person wasn’t the only one asking that question. I found lots and lots of people asking the same thing. To be fair, there were an equal number of people who said that babies don’t look alike and that anyone who said so was stupid.

However, there are academics who are studying this phenomenon. There was an English study I found asking why all babies look the same to men. The study concluded that:

“The study showed women aged up to 51 were able to determine an “attractive” baby by its chubby cheeks, large forehead, big round eyes and button nose – men struggled to distinguish a cute baby from any other.”

The study also found that menopausal women had similar results as men. I’m not in a position to say this study has any validity or not but it does kind of make sense to me. Or maybe I’m just trying to justify my own failures as a parent.

I’d like to end this article with a note to my baby. In the off chance you read this 20 years from now, please know that even though you looked like every other Asian baby out there, I always knew you were way smarter and cuter than all the rest. Please be kind to me in my old age.

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Author: Koji Steven Sakai

Writer/Producer Koji Steven Sakai is the founder of Little Nalu Pictures LLC and the CEO of CHOPSO (www.CHOPSO.com), the first Asian English streaming video service. He has written five feature films that have been produced, including the indie hit, The People I’ve Slept With. He also produced three feature films, a one hour comedy special currently on Netflix, and Comedy InvAsian, a live and filmed series featuring the nation’s top Asian American comedians. Koji’s debut novel, Romeo & Juliet Vs. Zombies, was released in paperback in 2015 and in audiobook in 2016 and his graphic novel, 442, was released in 2017. In addition, he is currently an adjunct professor in screenwriting at International Technological University in San Jose.