Had to slice this gold nugget out of a recent paper to make the word count, but am so happy it exists because somebody can relate to my freckleface :)
The more subtle nuances of skin pigmentation were also a site of visible-race negotiation for Nadia. The freckles on her relatively fair-toned skin have been singled out as a marker of biracial ambiguity:
“These ‘random’ aunties [colloquially meaning strangers during chance encounters] will stare at me and be like, oh girl you Eurasian is it? Your freckles so cute… I also look quite Chinese what… Asians cannot have freckles meh?”
Although freckles are not a phenotypic trait typically associated with Chineseness or Malayness in Singapore, for Nadia who happens to have them, freckles became a signifier of her racial hybridism. She reports that they were often the springboard from which Others initiated curiosities about her ambivalent visible-race, although rarely did such passing interactions call out her Chineseness or Malayness. Instead, she was often perceived as a Eurasian – of European and Asian ancestory – which the state categorizes as ‘Other’ in the CMIO profile. The reader then seems to be introducing greater distance away from Nadia, removing her further away from the typical Singaporean racial categories of CMI due to her visible ambivalence.
– ‘I also Melayu ok’ – Malay-Chinese women negotiating the ambivalence of biraciality for agentic autonomy (under review)