Photographs Break Down The 'Petite And Submissive' Asian Woman Stereotype

Originally from Singapore, Elizabeth Gabrielle Lee is a 23-year-old photographer currently living in London. After the shock of Brexit and the American presidential election last year, she noticed an increase in racist ideology and misunderstanding of minority cultures.

Xing (Photo: Elizabeth Gabrielle Lee)

As a victim of prejudice herself, she decided to collaborate with other photographers like Vivian Fu, Clara Lee, and Ronan Mckenzie on a book entitled Xing, which means "sex," "sexuality," "wake up" and "a person's essence" in Mandarin.

Speaking with Slate, she explained how the multiple meanings of the word helped her pay tribute to her Chinese roots:

"I decided to work on Xing when I noticed there was a lack of representation for Asian women, in Asia and especially in the West.

After moving to London, I realized how 'the other' is perceived in western culture and how widespread false stereotypes about the Asian community are."

"Not all of us are petite, slim, docile and submissive"

Often romanticized and objectified, fetishes about Asian women are very common. However, speaking with Dazed, Elizabeth Gabrielle Lee explained that the reality of being an Asian woman is a different story: "Not all of us are petite, slim, docile and submissive," she explains.

Xing (Photo: Elizabeth Gabrielle Lee)

Xing (Photo: Elizabeth Gabrielle Lee)

Often reduced to cliches of the sexy schoolgirl, the tiger mother, or the trophy wife, Elizabeth says it's hard to define what it means to be an Asian woman in 2017. As the photographer puts it, "Asian women are looked upon as objects that can be molded or claimed at the hands of her beholder." 

To reclaim her identity and highlight the complexity of Asian women, the author and photographers decided to feature Asian woman in a variety of situations, looking badass, sweet, political, and vulnerable at once.

The wide range of images shows these women for who they really are: multifaceted and human. The book is a visual dialog between several artists, all attempting to address a complex subject:

"I decided to take on this project despite it being a sensitive subject because I think race is still a taboo subject that no one wants to address directly, and Xing offers an alternative to the typical stories we hear about Asian women."

With this book, Elizabeth Gabrielle Lee has been able to reclaim her identity alongside other talented artists. It's an inspiring and necessary story of liberation.

You can purchase the photo book and learn more about the project on the Xing website.

Xing (Photo: Elizabeth Gabrielle Lee)

Xing (Photo: Elizabeth Gabrielle Lee)

Xing (Photo: Elizabeth Gabrielle Lee)

Xing (Photo: Elizabeth Gabrielle Lee)

Xing (Photo: Elizabeth Gabrielle Lee)

Xing (Photo: Elizabeth Gabrielle Lee)