Dual Heritage: I’ll always tick the “other” box

Family, Family Life, Life, Life Stories
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As a child I craved for curly blonde hair, big blue eyes and, I dreamed of having a petite oval face with sunken cheeks. That way I could be pretty like the other girls, and better still, I could just fit in.

Instead I was tall, curvy, round faced with poker straight dark hair.

And to make things worse, I was a tom boy who loved to play football.

So the bullies had a field day because I didn’t “fit” any one group. I was a mix.

Growing Up 

My diversity haunted me. But I began to accept who I was.

And I would shrug off the jibes:

“Are you related to Ken Hom?”

“Do you do karate?”

I could laugh those questions off.

“Why do you have a flat face?”

“Moon face!”

I would pretend to laugh it off.

But it hurt.

Becoming “cool” 

Overnight my mixed race fate changed… thanks to the “hot girl” on TV contest PopStars.

Yes, Myleene Klass did my street-cred at school A LOT of favours.

“You look like that Myleene girl.”

And the more famous she got, the more popular I became.

I even copied the way she did her make-up. I just wanted to be her.

And I started to grow in to who I was.

Dare I say it, I even enjoyed being different. 

Sadly though an ingrained hatred of my face didn’t subside. I loathed my chubby cheeks, my big smile and my small eyes.

I became obsessed by my facial features.

I just wanted to change faces, so much so, I was described as having body dysmorphia.

And I’m sure it wasn’t just the bullying. We are fed subtle messages through society and then the media about what is “beautiful.”

Now I have my own children, however, my focus has shifted. I see their uniqueness and their likenesses to me. And I am proud.

I still struggle with my face but I no longer want to transform it.

Going “home” 

That’s the funny thing about having a dual heritage. You’re constantly asked “where are you from?” The reality is, that you don’t fit in anywhere.

(You can watch my video about what not to say to someone who’s mixed race here).

In England I “look a bit foreign,” “exotic” or better still “like that Myleene Klass.”

In Malaysia, where a lot of my family are, I look “tall, white and foreign.”

So how do I “go back” to where I came from? 

I was born and raised in Yorkshire. I’ve only ever lived in northern England (apart from a stint in Italy.)

I have a Yorkshire accent, I feel at home in the region and I’m proud of my roots here. I’m a real Yorkshire lass.

But there are still constant reminders that I’m an “other”

Whenever it gets to the ethnicity section on forms, I always scan right down to the bottom of the list to tick “other.”

Whilst a lot of tick boxes include mixed ethnicities, I’m yet to find one for White British and Chinese.

My husband says I should just tick White British “and be done with it.”

I understand his sentiment, but I feel I have to cling on to my heritage as it has become an integral part of my identity.

And I don’t feel offended by the forms, because being the “other,” is who I am.

This was written for Huffington Post’s Born and Raised series. 

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