Female Asian American YouTubers: Final by Ariana Callan
This post is 2 of 4 in a series of posts on female Asian American YouTubers for my final.
Cassey Ho is the peppy Pilates instructor behind Blogilates. With over 2.5 million followers, she has created a dedicated channel and blog that gives out free monthly work out and meal plans. She also creates new workout videos every work, which are usually around the 10-minute mark and focus on Pilates moves that work on a specific part of the body. She has become famous for her use of pop songs in her videos as well. She has created such an intense following that she also offers a wide variety of merchandise like t-shirts, water bottles, and yoga mats. With such so much power, Ho now has a very influential voice. She is athletic in a way that isn’t typically associated with Asian Americans like martial arts; although, to be clear Pilates is a mix of both Eastern and Western practices created by a German man and is thought of as a more feminine form of working out. In general there is a perception that “Asian-Americans are less involved in sports than others in this country,” so for Ho to be able to have a growing fitness empire that focuses on users getting in shape- no matter who they are- is atypical, at least when examining stereotypes.
Ho has had such a successful career in creating work out videos, but her most popular video is instead about body acceptance. In this video, called The “Perfect” Body, she physically transforms her body into a body that has been deemed perfect by random Instagram commenters. As she looks into a mirror she changes the proportions of her body, adding and taking away fat. She even changes the color of her eyes to be a lighter brown. But in the end she finds that she is not happy trying to fit into other people’s standards. Ho has the power to not only influence women to loose weight and make healthier lifestyle choices, but also in how they view themselves and to love themselves the way they are. Her power reaches beyond exterior happiness and into something more psychological and troubling for many women.
ItsJudysLife chronicles the lives of a young family of five in Seattle, Washington as they quite literally go about their everyday lives; it captures the everyday moments of the family every single day of the year. With 1.2 million subscribers, the Travis are one of the most popular vloggers, but what makes them different from of the rest of the families that vlog is their Asian American background. Judy, the matriarch of the family, comes from a strong Filipino background and for a time her mother, also Filipino, lived with their young family. Judy and her husband Benji still have strong ties to Asia, even though both of them were born in the US; for instance in the video above, they only eat at Asian restaurants. And Judy has an additional channel, named Belleza Con Judy, which is entirely in Spanish. It has the same videos she posts on her English channel, but dubbed in Spanish. But, they are still assimilated, looking like any other American family. While she does not actually speak Spanish in her videos, it ties back to Filipino heritage.
Besides the novel idea of creating videos that capture every single day of their lives, and the challenge that comes along with that task, the family is not innovative in video production. The editing is simple and to the point, cutting between Judy and Benji’s different perspectives, with a brief clip of the two youngest daughters taken by their Grandmother. And because Judy and Benji do not explain where they are and why, the viewer would have needed to watch previous blogs to understand the context. Their videos are reality television in the truest sense and there is no fakeness to their lives. There is a huge emphasis on the happy moments, so they rarely film when their daughters fight with each other (although it is present in the above video). Basically the family is able to control everything that ends up on their channels because they are the ones who film and edit the videos. While it is amazing that they are then able to create their own representation of their family, instead of another producer or director’s opinion, they still constrict themselves in how they portray themselves, sometimes not always in a positive way.
In OOPS! I Ate All Your Halloween Candy the emphasis is on the content and not the formatting. The main attraction of the vlog is filming one of the girl’s cute reactions to Judy telling her that she ate all of her daughter’s candy. While the child is sad the main point is her cute reaction to her not wanting her mother to get sick and instead share. The vloggers capitalize on the cuteness of their three daughters, who are usually the focus of the videos. With examples like this, the show is really about normal family life. The Travis live in a nice suburban home where they regularly shop at Costco and Target and are not political- at least on video. They are not trying to disrupt anything or change perspectives. They just want to entertain millions of people with their family’s antics. In many ways they are just like any other family.