Gender, Race, Age - Age
I think in general, women are crucified by society when they advance in age.
Most asian women don’t look their age and it’s been a running joke that asian women only look old when they finally hit nineties. It might be appealing under current vanity strander to look young forever. But the phycological stress and trauma it brings are something only asian women can understand and we never talk about it in public. Not to mention this layer is adding on top of the pressure from women’s biological clocks.
I lost count of how many productions I interviewed for ended up using other lighting designers because they think I am too young. Thought the company would not officially say so but it was easy to find out who they hired when they announced the creative teams for productions. Unfortunately, it was always white men took the jobs. In fact, by the time I started actively free-lancing in New York metropolitan area, I was already over thirty, but I looked like I just freshly graduated from a university. There were also a few incidents that master electricians I worked with refused to take the notes I gave them, again, because I looked young and they did not believe I knew what I was doing. You would be surprised how many other fellow female designers I talked to experience the same thing repeatedly all over United States. It angered me every time, but for the sake of my career, I never made a sound, not even to my agent. I felt powerless and there was nothing I could do to make a difference.
Celebrating birthday was never my thing. Lately, I often get depressed when my birthday approaches. I am really proud of myself because I have worked hard to be where I am. I have a promising career and am able to take good care of myself. There were a lot of ups and downs but I never gave up and pushed through. Still, it is so hard to fight those values deeply rooted in me; The values that the society and my culture taught me. As a woman my age, I should have been married and settled down having a family. Not single. It does not matter what els you have achieved, if you are not married people automatically assume there are something wrong with you and that is why you are still single. Even my mom would remind me every time topics related to dating come up in our conversations, how I have little value in dating market now because I am too old; and how I have to work hard dolling up myself to compete against other pretty young ladies that are so much more desirable. It hurts a lot. But she doesn’t know better. What she is saying is also true to some extend comparing to what I have experienced; men older than me want to date women that are younger than me; men my age want to date women younger than me too! And if I start dating someone younger than me, I would be called “cougar,” a female predator instead of being celebrated like when men do the same.
It is a heartbreaking lesson to learn that things naturally occur in my life stacks up against me. Biologically, a lot of women in our society now have to face a challenge that threatens their granted choice of being a mother. Because our biological revolution did not follow the speed of our social evolvement. Not to mention the risk a woman have to take when you are older and want a child. Many women have to choose between their career development and their ability to give birth. For me, that is the most distressing decision ever in my womanhood. I am surrounded by many successful and courageous women that manage both a family life and a professional life well. But I also know many women that are not so lucky.
I am still fighting against being defined by my age. I am not afraid anymore because I know who I am now. But it does not make it any less disturbing and excruciating.