Toronto man talks about how ‘California Asians are built differently’ than other North American Asians: ‘You guys set the tone for the rest of us’

Chris Zou (@storiesofgaycz), a content creator based in Toronto, took to TikTok to call attention to the power and influence of Asian Americans in California.

Zou references a video made by a different TikTok user regarding how California Asians in particular are “built differently” than other Asians.

‘I don’t know if the California Asians necessarily know this, but you guys actually have a lot of power over all the Asian Americans in North America’

“Oftentimes, and I emphasize oftentimes, not always, they grow up in these affluent Asian American neighborhoods, which is not really what is representative of Asian Americans in the rest of America,” Zou explains of the California Asians. “And I’m pretty sure she isn’t saying that, like, one experience is more valid than another.

“Even for me, I live in Toronto, which is a huge urban center, and I know that my experience as an Asian American here is going to be very different from an Asian American living in Wyoming,” he continues. “I don’t know if the California Asians necessarily know this, but you guys actually have a lot of power over all the Asian Americans in North America. You guys set the tone for the rest of us out here.”

California is home to more than 6 million people of Asian descent, according to data obtained by AP News via the U.S. Census Bureau in 2021. Per the same article, the Asian population in California increased by 25 percent in the past decade, making it the “fastest growing ethnic group in the nation’s most populous state.”

At 45 percent, nearly half of Asian Americans live in the West. Almost one-third, 30 percent, live in California, as reported in a 2021 article from Pew Research Center.

Zou uses the “Asian baby girl” stereotype to prove his point. “Asian baby girls,” or “ABGs,” is a superficial term used to describe Asian women whose physical appearance is generally characterized by lash extensions, a full face of makeup, acrylic nails and some sort of glamorous hair look.

He also references how many Asian men in Toronto are rocking a middle part at the moment too.

“Like if all the Asian baby girls, the ABGs in California, decide that balayage is in, then that trend is gonna travel north to Vancouver and then east to Toronto, and in two to three years all the Tiffany, the Jessica and the Vivians of Toronto will have a balayage,” he suggests. “Right now, all the Asian guys here in Toronto are growing out their hair so that they could have that middle part because all the Kevin, Michael and Daniels in California have a middle part.”

A balayage, for reference, is a type of hair highlighting technique that creates a soft, natural gradient effect from darker to lighter. The inclination for Asian women in particular to dye their hair a significantly lighter color or gravitate toward a balayage could be related to the fact that lighter hair suggests a more Eurocentric, Western standard of beauty.

“Us Asian girls are all born with naturally dark hair, so sometimes we want a drastic change,” Laura (@laurajpeg), a Vietnamese TikTok creator, told Dazed Digital.

Per an article from the New York Times, about 50 percent of Asian customers at Sonder Hair Studio in New York City favor a lighter color over their natural, darker hair.

“So I need you guys, California Asians, to do me a huge favor and let me in on what is the next big trend for Asian Americans,” Zou adds.

‘Wow you make me as a California asian feel so powerful’

Asian Americans across the country are weighing in on Zou’s claims.

“me, an east coast asian, currently growing my hair out with a middle part not realizing I’ve been subtly influenced by the CA asians,” @thepanduhhh said.

“as a born and raised hawaii asian that went to college in cali, it was def an experience lol,” @tiredtummy wrote.

“LA 626 asian here! baggy jeans and white shoes are gonna be your best friend,” @joyceewu replied regarding Zou’s question about upcoming trends.

“Me, a Wyoming Asian watching this,” @nota_karyn_theworld joked.

“Wow you make me as a California asian feel so powerful,” @teawithmd responded.

So why does Zou argue that California Asians are more influential than Asian Americans in other regions? Well, a reason could be the sheer density of the Asian American population in the West Coast state. With over 6 million Asian Americans residing there, their ability to originate or decide trends that reach other Asian communities doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility.

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