March 7, 2012

Ellen Oh on 'Why The Pretty White Girl YA Book Cover Trend Needs to End'

Ellen Oh, author of the upcoming YA fantasy Prophecy: The Dragon King Chronicles, wrote this fantastic blog post today on why the pretty white girl YA book cover trend needs to end:

Asians have long been the silent minority in this country. It's gotten so bad that when someone makes a racist remark toward Asians, they just shrug it off and make it seem like you're the one making a big deal about nothing. Or they think it's funny. Like a couple of white guys who think they are being clever by opening up a restaurant called "Roundeye Noodle shop" in Philadelphia. And then they are surprised when people get offended? The roots of that racist remark stem from Asians being called slanty-eyed chinks.

If anyone thinks "Roundeye" is not racist, you should come explain that to my youngest daughter who had the singular pleasure of being told by two boys in her class that her "small Chinese eyes" were ugly compared to her friend's "blue round-eyes." She was in kindergarten and only 5 years old. She cried for days. Words can scar you for life.

This pretty much hits home for me, and my heart hurts for her daughter.

You can read the full blog post HERE.

Essentially, publishers fill the covers of YA books with this idealization of white beauty, sometimes in spite of the fact the MC IS NOT EVEN WHITE, and this is damaging not only to girls like Ellen's daughter or MY daughter (who is only 9 and already likes YA books) but to an entire generation of young people reading these books.

We need to teach our youth the beauty of diversity. Beauty does not come in only one color. It does not come in only one size and one shape. And maybe when our teens grow up exposed to diversity, then they will grow into adults who embrace it.

And then maybe their children will never call another child ugly simply because they do not match the ideal of white beauty.

Also, Adam Heine is hosting a Giveaway in Support of Asian YA Book Covers. Check it out.


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