DEADLINE EXTENDED: SUBMIT BY SEPTEMBER 11
In the West, the quest for beauty and acceptance can be long and perilous. White standards have deemed Asian aesthetics ugly, painful, unsightly, disgusting, and inappropriate, encouraging the sales of products such as skin-lightening creams and plastic surgeries. Historical art and culture is often spectacularized/appropriated, made to stand in as a “golden era” from which Asian societies have fallen. On the other hand, the consumption of cuteness (kawaii culture, bindis, etc.) finds an easy fit in consumer capitalism. And those who fit less easily must fight for their place: critics of the newly crowned Miss Universe Japan Ariana Miyamato attack her blackness as being ‘un-Japanese’; Diplo abuses a South Indian aesthetic in his music video for “Lean On”; and Eddie Huang satirizes school day terror when bringing Chinese food to an American school. With much credit to and inspiration from Mia Mingus’ thought-provoking essay “Moving Toward the Ugly: A Politic Beyond Desirability,” we ask the question: where are the stories that reject the quest for beautiful and revel in the ugly? Where are the people and places that embrace disgust? That fight for strength in all things strange?
As[I]Am is looking for submissions for our fall issue, Unpalatable. We’re celebrating the unsightly, the painful, the ugly, and the repressed that can’t be held back. We want your narratives and art that reject beauty standards and relish the alternatives. While depictions of Asians and Asian Americans emphasize a push and pull with assimilation, we’re looking for the stories that reject assumed desires and fight the itch for belonging. We want the stories that can’t or won’t be digested, reject the need for beauty, and resist assimilation. What does it mean to be unpalatable? How do we find the magnificence in ugly, and where does bitterness reside? How can we turn towards ugliness and still see those parts of our existence as deserving of care?
Email us at email@example.com by September 11th (hard deadline). We accept interviews, profiles, visual art, audio and video, nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. Got something else? Send it to us! We especially encourage submissions from South, Southeast, West Asian, Pacific Islander, Native Hawai’ian, and Caribbean folks, low-income and working class folks, folks from a mixed-race background, those whose gender identity/expression and sexuality fall outside institutional norms, and folks who don’t live in areas with concentrated Asian populations. For all inquires, please include a short explanation and 2-sentence bio.