Plastered along the streets of downtown Providence, Rhode Island, are signs with bold, white block letters, loudly proclaiming “ASIAN WOMEN ARE NOT ALL QUIET. ASIAN WOMEN ARE NOT YOUR FETISH. ASIAN WOMEN ARE NOT SUBMISSIVE.” These are just a few of the pieces from an installation created by the two women currently known as Sad Asian Girls Club. Founded by Esther Fan and Olivia Park, Sad Asian Girls Club is a self-funded and self-managed collective by and for Asian-American women, who aim to break the culture of passiveness and silence among Asian-American women living in a white male-dominated society. The Rhode Island School of Design students decided to start the “club” after navigating the struggles of growing up in Western and Asian cultures simultaneously.
Their first project, “Have You Eaten,” although minimal in its presentation, is a powerful explanation of the box that Asian women are forced to put themselves in—often even, by their own families. The project explores and exposes the idea that Asian women have to be a certain weight, have light skin, eat only small amounts of food, and present themselves a certain way, all in an effort to be “correct.” While all of the factors may seem minor on their own, it’s the little things—the microaggressions and comments—that speak of a larger narrative of racism that SAGC is looking to stop. Thus, the group’s manifesto dives deeper into their mission of not only empowering Asian women to speak up but also creating a community of women who have had enough and are ready to do something about it—specifically through mixing activism and art.