Model Kevin Kreider is by all accounts an incredibly attractive man. He is a model who has been booked by popular brands, and he has a healthy Instagram following. So why are he and director Doris Yeung trying to raise funds for a documentary The Ugly Model? He wants to dive into the question of “Can Asian men be sexy?”
They’re not the first to broach this topic — in fact, it’s a topic that’s creeping its way into the conversation more. There are many historical reasons playing into the perception of Asian and Asian American men as being considered “unattractive.” For example, for many immigrants coming from China in the late 19th and early 20th century, the men were relegated to occupations that were at the time considered primarily meant for women (laundries, cooking/restaurants, etc). This perpetuated the stereotype that Asian men weren’t masculine, and therefore attractive.
On modern day dating sites/apps, data has shown that Asian men and black women are the groups who see the least amount of success on these services. Though let’s not even get started about the fetishization of Asian women.
There are a ton of other misconceptions about Asian men that have too long been allowed to take root in the US and other western countries that contribute to the issue. Questions of western standards for beauty, myths of endowment, and a lack of understanding of Asian culture in general.
So what does Kreider bring to the conversation? Well, he was adopted from Korea and grew up in a predominantly white household. Layer onto that the lack of Asian representation in the media, and it’s easy to see how one who by all means is a stunning physical specimen can gain a complex about their appearance.
The film features Kevin Kreider’s interviews with NBA star Jeremy Lin, fellow model Daniel Liu, and a host of academics who are able to provide more context on the history of Asian male representation.
One thing is for sure: the more the topic of representation is being discussed, the better it is for everyone. Perhaps some day the next Kevin Kreider won’t grow up feeling a sense of insecurity because they were able to see a positive example in Kevin, Jeremy, Daniel, and others.
The documentary is already half way to their $20,000 goal and ends their campaign on May 30th. Also for those unaware, May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.