From FOB to Fobulous

How Asian Americans are turning an insult upside down.

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/margolove/2757511201/">margolove</a>/Flickr

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Getting called a FOB (“fresh off the boat”) used to be the ultimate put-down for Asian Americans. But “FOB blogs” have turned the insult on its head by celebrating FOB-iness—particularly the culture gap between assimilated Asian kids and their parents. Favorite topics include parental quirks such as excessive frugality, unrealistic academic expectations (“So I heard you got into Harvard for graduate school, that is very…uh…adequate”), and ESL malapropisms (“the itchy, bitchy spider went up the water spout”).

Beyond the filial impiety, there’s a streak of pride, says Suzanne Leung, the 25-year-old cocreator of the blog Absolutely Fobulous: “We really see it as embracing our culture. When we say we’re being FOBs, it’s just being true to where we come from.” Teresa Wu, the 21-year-old behind My Dad Is a FOB and My Mom Is a FOB, says that “Being a FOB’s kid is cool.” She’s learned to take condiment packages from restaurants and “judges prospective husbands for their height, majors, and wealth,” something that may sound familiar to anyone with an immigrant relative, whether it’s a Chinese mom or a Jewish bubbe.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate