Fu: And I’m so hot, I need a fan


Illustration by Katrina Pham

This is “Rice Purity,” a column covering all things gaysian America, sex and scandal.

Yiming Fu, Assistant Opinion Editor

It was finally time … I threw on my black leather skirt, black boots and fuschia Flamin’ Hot Cheetos crop top. I had practiced my entire life for this moment, and I was ready to shake my ass until my ass fell off. BLACKPINK was in town.  

Year after year, K-pop girl group BLACKPINK captures the top artist slot on my Spotify Wrapped. And “BOOMBAYAH,” the group’s debut single, holds a vice grip on my heart. Boasting 1.5 billion views on Youtube, the music video features highlighter green hair, a tropical jungle, motorcycles and a roller rink. That with the song’s mix of club-ready synths with sassy rap lines, I was immediately hooked. I promise you would be too.

The group’s four members — Lisa, Rosé, Jennie and Jisoo — helped me find strength in my femininity as a queer Asian American teenager and quickly became my role models.

BLACKPINK fuses “pretty” and “tough,” which has earned the band its spot at the top of the charts. Its sound, known as girl crush, “is all about female empowerment,” according to Rhian Daly. She writes in New Musical Express, “Forget being cute and playful — girl crush thrives on dark, mature sounds and themes, as well as being a total badass.”

Personally, I was the opposite of a “total badass.” A twisty gangly mess of “feminine” energy, I was pigeon toed and stood with a slouchy, cross-legged posture. I tilted my head ninety degrees for pictures, and my voice curled into question marks at the end of my sentences.

I was a flop. And my parents wanted me to be better. When they would pick me up from the local YMCA, I was always making flower bracelets and jumping rope with the girls instead of balling up with the boys. I couldn’t dribble for my life, but I knew every hand game in the books. Whenever I hung out with my male “friends,” I would come home bruised and battered —  somehow always finding myself the butt of the joke. 

The first born son, the oldest and the tallest, my parents have always asked me to be more of a man. “Stand straight! Walk straight! Talk normally!” The commands still echo in my mind. If I could be more of a man, I thought, everything would be fine.

Music was the first thing that made me feel good, and I instantly gravitated toward girl groups. I loved their empowering anthems, almost more than I enjoyed screaming them from the top of my lungs, bouncing around my room. Every new song and music video provided a sugary escape from the gangly-limbed flop of a man I was. And slowly, my confidence emerged. 

As Fifth Harmony told me I was “Worth It,” and I lived Little Mix’s “Glory Days” alongside them, I slowly started believing I was an it-girl as well. 

BLACKPINK roared onto the international musical landscape right as my favorite girl groups began to fade. Known as “YG’s Secret Weapon,”  “The Monster Rookie” and “The Villain of K-pop,” I loved how Jennie hit every beat with a self-assured swagger. I watched the “BOOMBAYAH” music video and performances over and over and over again, captivated by the way she dominated every frame. 

I know now that most K-pop songs include a couple English lines to hook international listeners. The lines are often a little cheesy, and those in “BOOMBAYAH” are no different. But when Lisa, the main dancer and lead rapper, kicks the song off with her audacious “Been a bad girl, I know I am / And I’m so hot, I need a fan!” I can’t help but scream it too. 

I screamed it —  until one day, I believed it.

Honestly, I never wanted to be “badass.” From childhood, I associated strength with masculinity, and masculinity with insensitivity, brute force and violence. From what I knew, being a man looked like shattering porcelain plates and beating your loved ones when you’re mad. I knew I was better than that. 

BLACKPINK gave me another option. I found strength in my self-belief. And instead of trying to reprogram every part of my body to seem powerful, I embraced every bit of who I am — which makes me powerful. When I’m slouching, I’m slouching with the utmost confidence in every bent vertebrae. And when we start playing our girly little hand games, know I’m taking it seriously. 

I love my femme sides, I love my masc sides. More importantly, I love the way they blend together to make my own unique x-factor. I still don’t know what being a man is, and perhaps that’s okay. It doesn’t feel quite right sometimes. But I do know that I’m a BLACKPINK stan. And that’s pretty important if you ask me.

Yiming Fu is a Medill junior. He can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.