It is so confusing having these white ideals of what beauty looks like and realizing that most of the women in my family are around 5 feet 2 inches and then trying to live up to those expectations. And on the flipside the standards of beauty in my Korean church and in my Korean family are heavily influenced by Western ideals but are unattainable by Asian Americans. I saw a lot of eyelid surgery in my church, not that I want to perpetuate that all Asian Americans get that surgery. But I also saw a lot of pressure to dye my hair lighter, wear color contacts, to wear Abercrombie jeans, to wear Ugg boots and Northface and it was all these symbols to make me look more white but could never make me white enough, which was really frustrating, so of course I took that out on my body.
As an Asian American woman you’re told that you have to be smart and pretty to be heard. And you have to be exceptional, and of course people want us to be exceptional, so it was hard for me because I did struggle with math and science and I couldn’t live up to the ideals of what my sister could. So then I internalized that I had to be the pretty one and that I had to be the thin one and that became extra hard for me as I hit puberty and I wanted to hold onto it. I had an eating disorder for eight or nine years and the problem with that is that it really takes away a lot of potential. I was so distracted with controlling the way my body looked that I didn’t even get into political organizing, I didn’t ever have a voice because I was so consumed with controlling myself, so how could I empower other women?
I also think there’s also a lot of silence around mental health issues and eating disorders in Asian American families whether it be because of a cultural barrier or a communication barrier. There’s a lot of pressure to not struggle. It was hard for me to tell my parents about my eating disorder because I didn’t want them to know I was struggling because I knew they had sacrificed so much to give me this good life and so-called American dream. For them to know that I had an eating disorder was hard for me to walk through with them."
“‘Q.U.E.E.N.’ definitely is an acronym,” Monae explains during an interview at Fuse HQ. “It’s for those who are marginalized.” She says the “Q” represents the queer community, the “U” for the untouchables, the “E” for emigrants, the second “E” for the excommunicated and the “N” for those labeled as negroid.
"It’s for everyone who’s felt ostracized," she adds. "I wanted to create something for people who feel like they want to give up because they’re not accepted by society.""