Being British East Asian: Sex, Beauty & Bodies – 13 October 2020 – 13/10/2020 – Tuesday – BBC

For many British East Asians, daily life can feel like a battle between never being quite ‘Asian enough’, or quite ‘British enough’.
Elaine Chong sets out to challenge everything she learned about being East Asian growing up. She explores why the desire to fit in to a foreign culture while meeting the standards demanded by their family leaves some British East Asians feeling like they’re in an almost-impossible situation.

Episode one: Sex
Asian porn is the most-watched genre on Pornhub, and East Asian women often find themselves stereotyped and hypersexualised in Western media.

Some East Asian women are making the most of this perception, and making it work for them by monetising it. Journalist Elaine Chong joins Samantha Sun, an exotic dancer who employs East Asian stereotypes as part of her routine, on stage at an all-East Asian circus performance. Is this a way for East Asian women to reclaim control over their sexuality, or is her show giving a free pass to men to sexualise them?

While East Asian women often find themselves hypersexualised, East Asian men like comedian Ken Cheng can often find themselves desexualised in the West, seen as weak or undesirable. Ken and Elaine speak to JT Tran, a dating coach, to see how East Asian men are affected in the dating world, and how JT thinks they can improve their confidence.

Some British East Asians can find it difficult to speak to their family about their sexuality, especially if they are part of the LGBT community. Elaine meets up with Rina Sawayama, an out-and-proud British-Japanese popstar, to talk about the challenges British East Asians face when discussing their sexuality with their parents, and how she managed to speak openly with her mum about being bisexual after coming out in an interview.

Finally Elaine meets drag king Jacqui Bardelang, to talk about how she embraced her queerness at university after supressing it as a child.

Episode two: Beauty
Across East Asia an extremely strict formula for beauty is emerging: pale skin, big eyes and a razor-sharp v-shaped jawline. Some people say it’s to look ‘more Western’, but is that true?

Journalist Elaine Chong meets up with Oli London, Britain’s only K-Pop star. With K-Pop reaching every corner of the globe, achieving the K-Pop look has become extremely desirable. Oli isn’t of Korean origin – he’s white British – but has undergone more than 15 plastic surgeries to achieve his dream of having the perfect K-Pop face. Elaine accompanies Oli to his latest procedure – one that is going to give him more ‘Asian-looking’ eyes.

Plastic surgery is less stigmatised in East Asian communities than it is in the West, with many parents almost expected to offer it to their children if they think they need it to be more stereotypically attractive. Elaine visits oculoplastic surgeon Dr Sabrina Shah-Desai to find out which procedures she thinks she could benefit from.

And Elaine speaks to Kacey Coleen Lim, a Filipino beauty queen, to discuss the mind-set she has experienced in the Philippines, where often the lighter skin you have, the more beautiful you are perceived to be.

Episode three: Bodies
Food can often be a way for British East Asians to communicate with their family and heritage, but the pressure to lose weight often exists at odds with this. Elaine meets up with Singaporean pop star Ming Bridges and comedian Evelyn Mok, to discuss this strained and often unhealthy relationship with food. How can a few leaves of cabbage and a handful of nuts make up a whole day’s food? And why has watching videos of other people gorging on food online become so popular?

When Elaine visits her Chinese relatives, she is often greeted with comments on her weight rather than a friendly hello. She visits body confidence coach Michelle Elman to get some help with her long-standing body issues, and to see if she can exorcise childhood demons about her weight.


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