What is Race Change to Another?

by | Feb 29, 2024 | Culture, Politics | 0 comments

Unmasking the layers of racial transformation, identity, and cultural respect

Have you ever felt uncomfortable in your skin? Or have you ever just wanted to change everything about yourself? Your clothes, your routine, your decor, your furniture, your jewellry, or your race? Yeah, I said race. Believe it or not, there is a space for that. The Race Change to Another (RCTA) community is pretty much self-explanatory; the premise is that you can change your race to another. You would do this by altering your appearance to your preferred race, and in a world in which chemical products, coloured contacts, wigs, and plastic surgery exist, it is surprisingly easy to pass as a different race. The community members give each other tips on how to “change” their race to another, like folding their eyelid over itself to provide the appearance of a monolid (don’t try this at home, kids). But, should that be acceptable?

Look, I fully believed going into my deep dive into forums and TikTok that it would just be filled with satire and at first, it was. But, you get deep enough, and suddenly, people get serious. The most desired race seems to be from East Asia, likely due to anime’s popularity. But, what appears to be happening is the deep appreciation people have for different cultures and lifestyles is turning into something else. 

In a Reddit forum dedicated to the RCTA community, it isn’t uncommon for people to comment on their confusion and dismay. A commenter mentioned that while appreciating a culture associated with particular races is perfectly fine, it becomes disrespectful when people begin to identify themselves as said race without any genetic history to back it up. This is because many of the features and aspects of minority races are often reasons for bullying and discrimination, and those who face these troubles don’t have the features by choice. This commenter even compared RCTA to blackface or Asian-fishing, and honestly, that makes sense because, isn’t that precisely what they’re doing? My favourite takeaway from that comment is the reminder:, “you are beautiful the way you are even if you think otherwise. Your own features are yours and not anybody else’s.” 

Yet despite that kind reminder, this commenter received a lot of backlash, which wasn’t surprising; people will always be bothered by something. What was surprising was the term “cis-race” and the way it is used derogatorily. As if it’s a crime to be the race that you were born into. I am a big believer in doing whatever you want as long as you’re not harming others. I say this in the most respectful way possible, but I literally couldn’t care less about what you do with your life because it’s YOURS. But, as someone who has visibly ethnic features, I have been on the receiving end of the discrimination. As a kid, it hurt  to hear that my features were not correct or beautiful. But, I had to push through the insults and develop the confidence needed to disregard others’ opinions and feel comfortable with myself. Not just comfortable, but beautiful. I had to remind myself that my features were an amalgamation of wonderful people with unique stories and experiences. When I looked in the mirror, instead of seeing mocking laughter, I could see the culmination of my people’s history being realized on the canvas that is my face. The reality is that it took a while to get to that point, and the same is true for many others. It’s an experience that people who weren’t born with such features and the accompanying baggage can never fully understand. 

A harsher reality is the  dangerous forms of discrimination many people with ethnic and “exotic” features tend to face. Tanned skin is cute until you get called a terrorist and told to go back home (can the next person who tells me that pay for my ticket?). Monolids are pretty until you’re being blamed for a virus that you had nothing to do with. Curls are “to die for” until they increase the likelihood of getting shot and actually dying because of them. 
So, is this a trend that, like many others, will fade with time, or will it last? It could be an indication of something deeper. Why do so many people feel so uncomfortable and insecure in their own skin that they would take such drastic measures? Many people in different RCTA forums mentioned feeling disconnected from who they are. It’s worth exploring why that is. Whatever the reason, it is important to remember that our diversity makes the world interesting, and your individuality makes you beautiful. If the world was a canvas, it is with different colours that we create a masterpiece.

Image by Thai Sirikoone

Nour Ihsene Salhi

The Griff


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