Blossom Beeby, an adopted Korean child is brought up in a “manufactured” white family and her Asian-ness is suppressed. She identifies herself “inside” as a Caucasian person as a reflection of her surroundings; however when she looks in the mirror she sees a “foreigner”.
Beeby uses the imagery of a commercial product to describe her sense of alienation and cultural displacement. Accordingly, the commercial figurative reference to the “Made in Korea” baby with “scant” “care instructions” reflects her criticism of the impersonal attitude of her adopted parents. She believes she was brought up in an environment in which her parents seemed to follow a set of rules about the integration and assimilation of “Asian babies”. She believes that such rules tended to overlook and suppress her Asian appearance and personality so that she could better conform to her white social and cultural context. In this context, her “asian-ness is pushed to the crevice in the background of my mind”
The author also uses the imagery of the mirror as a tool of self-awareness to reflect her confused cultural identity. She is conditioned to feel like a “rosy white kid” but the mirror reveals a “foreigner”. The suppression of her Asian background unsettles her and creates self-doubts. She is made to feel as if being Asian is somehow inferior and this compounds her inferiority complex.
She reflects on the fact that “for much of my childhood, my Asian-ness was pushed to a crevice in the back of my mind”. This sense of a gap (slippage) between the experience of self and physical appearance leads to a sense of denial and rejection that haunts her and leaves her feeling displaced, raw and empty. She is plagued by doubts and an increasing sense of resentment.
Beeby gains a different perspective on her identity after she sees an advertisement in a fashion magazine. Formerly, she thought that Asian people could not possibly be beautiful. She always saw herself as inferior. But after seeing the beautiful Asian model, she realised she did not have to be ashamed of her ethnicity; it could be a source of beauty and pride.
Her relationships with migrants, become a “rebellion of sorts”, and help her re-evaluate her place in the world. Frequenting bars with her new social circle, she realizes “it was the first time I’d felt comfortable being an Asian” and “I was finally glad to be an Asian.”
Once again, her identity takes an important turn when she returns “home” to expose the myths of origin relating to her mother and the circumstances of her birth. She discovers that the social worker arbitrarily names her Soo Jeong according to a landmark with similar names. It was not a nostalgic name offered by her mother; there are no bonds to restore. She gains, though, a renewed sense of appreciation of her home in Australia and the opportunities it has afforded her.