The Importance of EXPOSURE
It took me a long time to recognize the pride I should have in my Chinese heritage. I was ungrateful and often dreamed of being reborn into a white family. I would have traded anything to be seen, to be beautiful, to be white. I used to think of how easy life would with preconceived privilege and worth, based solely on the color of my skin.
Although I am still finding love in my heritage today, I have realized the importance of staying grounded in my culture. Being a second generation Asian-American, it’s been difficult finding a sense of belong in the repressive environment that is, America. Yet, I am continuing to teach myself how to incorporate my background into my ever-developing identity. However, modeling and creative writing have become outlets for the fiery Chinese girl I buried within me long ago. She motivates me to create art because it allows me to express myself in ways I cannot outrightly say in a white-dominated society. She’s enabled me to grow into someone I’m proud to be.
I was ecstatic when I first heard about, what we later termed, EXPOSURE 19, in December of 2018. I reached out to the founder, Katie Hui, in hopes to be a part of her vision of the project she wanted to create. Katie’s purpose for EXPOSURE 19 was to, “showcase the unique features of the models since there is a common misconception that all Asians look the same” and “to inspire and empower the Asians in society who may feel like they don’t belong.” However, Katie’s idea later developed into so much more with the accumulation of ideas from the 25 other creatives involved. By working with a team of people who also wanted to make a change and inspire others to do the same, it was simple to expand Katie’s idea into something that would actually make a statement towards society. Together we were able to create everything that EXPOSURE 19 stands for.
The following message is from the entire EXPOSURE Team:
For decades, American media has portrayed East Asians as an exotic species, stereotyping them as nerds or ethnic sidekicks, with the sole purpose of highlighting us as others. Western beauty standards have associated our “chinky” eyes as unappealing and our hair too dark and flat to attain the ideology that surrounds the blonde and blue-eyed women on every magazine cover. East Asians are often seen as having weak or submissive personalities and are often seen as “too foreign to belong” or “outcasts” because of the color of our skin and our nature. It’s become a norm to rarely see East Asians in the media and beauty industry, and even more rare to see them hold important roles in campaigns or films. However, like many other experiences tied to race, you don’t notice that someone is being underrepresented until that someone is you.
People have learned to assume that all East Asians look the same, eat the same things, speak the same language, and come from the same place. This inaccurate, preconceived notion has created a false interpretation of Asian Americans as a whole. In the EXPOSURE magazine, you will see the beauty of Filipina, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese models embracing the features that set them apart from the beauty standards that were pushed upon them growing up.
EXPOSURE is a project that highlights us. Only we have the right to dictate what our cultures consist of and this magazine serves as proof that not all Asians look alike. Our work goes to show that we shouldn’t be held to the standards set by people outside of our race. We have the freedom to express ourselves in whichever way we choose, and we are choosing to take the spotlight. It’s time that we get the exposure we deserve.
If you would like to order a printed copy of the EXPOSURE magazine, please reach out to Isabelle Jia via Instagram @isabellewillajia
Isabelle Jia is a poet, graphic designer, and model from the San Francisco Bay Area. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Alexandria Quarterly, The Blueshift Journal, Rising Phoenix Review and many more. Jia has been recognized as a California Arts Scholar, by the Walt Whitman National Poetry Foundation, and Hollins University. She is a published model and her graphic design can be found in many magazines. Currently she works for The Speakeasy Project, The Ellis Review, Santa Clara Review, and Bitter Melon Magazine. For more on her writing and design, go to http://isabellejia.weebly.com/. To view her modeling portfolio, go to https://isabellejia.wixsite.com/home