Angry with a Purpose
Last week I read a blog post by Lela Lee, the creator of Angry Little Girls, about why she’s so angry and how the main character, Kim, was born. I was–and still am–a big fan of the so called Angry Little Asian Girl (I even own a shirt, which, according to my mom, describes me half of the time). I always cracked up at Kim’s lines toward her on-and-off again boyfriend Bruce, to her friends, and her immigrant mother and it always made me feel good if I was having a bad day. I knew that Lee was angry otherwise she couldn’t have come up with Kim, but I didn’t know where that anger came from until after reading her post.
Like majority of Asian Americans, Lee and her three sisters were constantly pressured by their Asian born parents to succeed and to make a name for themselves. They demanded that their daughters secure top careers because of their education (all four Lee sisters went to private schools and top universities).
The stress became too much and Kim was born while Lee was studying at UC Berkeley. Even though Kim is a reflection of Lee’s inner struggles with demanding parents, annoying siblings, and crazy friendships/relationships, I see the character quite differently. I view Kim as the poster child of young Asian American females who were brought up to be nice. Kim and her wisecracking ways destroys that stereotype and shows that although Asian American women are supposed to be nice, we don’t need to play by the rules, stay quiet, and be non confrontational all of the time. We are multidimensional and Kim represents that.
Kim’s interactions with her immigrant mother gives rise to the fact and pokes fun at the exceptions that Asian American children deal with from their parents, like Lee. To me, Kim mouthing off to her mother is in no form of disrespect, but as a way to not let her control her life. I’m sure we can all attest to being in one of Kim’s situations, squaring off with our mothers.
I now look at Angry Little Girls with a newfound respect and not just as entertainment, with Kim at the forefront. Lee has done a great job in creating very memorable characters and her brand says it all: There are Angry Little Girls’ iPhone cases, dolls, and skateboards (to name a few) and seven comic books. I hope Lee still has some pent up anger in her somewhere. Can you imagine Kim being nice?! I can’t.