Heavier Asian Americans are seen as "More American"

A new study says heavier Asian Americans are more likely to be perceived as "American."

A new study has found that for Asian Americans, those who appear heavier not only are perceived to be more "American," but also may be subject to less prejudice directed at foreigners than Asian Americans who are thin.

Wait, what?

According to a new study at the University of Washington, published last week Psychological Science, heavier Asian Americans are more likely to be perceived as "American" than those of a thinner weight.

How the hell does that even compute? The perception apparently relates to common stereotypes that Asians are thin and Americans are heavy. Thus, heavy Asians appear to be more "American."

The researchers also found that overweight Asian American men were less likely than those of a normal weight to be viewed as being in the country illegally. Skinny Asians, your citizenship status is questionable.

"In the U.S., there is a strong bias associating American identity with whiteness, and this can have negative consequences for people of color in the U.S.," said corresponding author Caitlin Handron, a doctoral student at Stanford University. "We wanted to see whether ideas of nationality are malleable and how body shape factors into these judgments."

The study used photos to gauge viewers' impressions. More than 1,000 college students viewed photos of men and women (Asian, black, Latino, and white) of varying weights, then answered questions about the photo subject's nationality and other traits, such as: "How likely is this person to have been born outside the U.S.?" and "How likely is it that this person's native language is English?"

Asian Americans who appeared to be heavy were more likely than their thinner counterparts to be presumed to be American and in the United States with documentation.

White and black Americans were perceived as significantly more American than Asian or Latino Americans. But weight didn't affect how "American" participants rated White and Black portraits. This supported researchers' theory that people believed to be from other countries -- specifically, countries that are stereotypically thin -- are considered more American if they're heavy.

"We found that there was a paradoxical social benefit for Asian Americans, where extra weight allows them to be seen as more American and less likely to face prejudice directed at those assumed to be foreign," said Sapna Cheryan, an author of the study and associate professor of psychology at the University of Washington.

We're all aware that there's a pretty strong association between whiteness and Americanness, thanks to the media and, well, everything. While us Asians are perpetually battling this perception of foreignness, now we're told our friggin' weight is a factor in this equation too?

More here: Heavier Asian Americans seen as 'more American,' study says

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