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[Vice] ‘Banana’ magazine is bringing the duality of the Asian American experience to the forefront

May 6, 2015

 

(Courtesy of Banana Magazine via Vice)

(Courtesy of Banana Magazine via Vice)

[VICE]

As an Asian American, I rarely get to see reflections of myself in popular media. When I’m lucky enough to spot a face similar to mine in a movie or a magazine, they’re often relegated to stereotypical characterizations like the mathlete or the martial artist. However, two fashion insiders are working hard to change that with a new magazine called Banana that highlights the duality of experience that comes with being of Asian descent and growing up in America.

Kathleen Tso and Vicki Ho started working on Banana in 2014. The name is a sardonic nod to a term used to describe the new generation of Asians in the United States who’ve assimilated to American culture. One of the key inspiration for the magazine came from Eddie Huang’s memoir and recent television show, Fresh Off the Boat,which has helped broaden the representation of Asians in media beyond karate chops and Uncle Chans. Although Tso was raised in Texas and Ho grew up in New York, they both related to Huang’s stories of having immigrant parents and developing an identity born out of his American and Asian experiences.

Tso and Ho called on their friends to help put together the publication that would take the fight Huang is waging on prime-time TV to the realm of fashion and culture magazines. They hosted monthly meet ups over dim sum with their friends and colleagues, where they would throw around ideas and concepts. Ultimately, they came up with a sharp mix of fashion editorials, recipes, personal essays, and features showcasing the lives of Asian American cool kids.

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