‘You’re Quite Hot For An Asian’: How Racial Stereotypes Have Shaped MAFS Star Evelyn Ellis’ Love Life So Far

Image courtesy of Channel 9
After entering the social experiment halfway through as an 'intruder', Married At First Sight's Evelyn Ellis is gradually finding her feet with husband, Rupert Bugden. While many viewers on social media have assumed that Ellis wouldn't have an issue in the dating department as she's a model, the 26-year-old says this is far from the truth.
"People have this assumption of me that I really have it all together, that there's a lot of guys after me and that it's just easy for some strange reason," Ellis tells Refinery29 Australia. "But I do have times when I feel really lonely at home."
Ellis — whose father is white and whose mother is Chinese Vietnamese — says she's often stereotyped or viewed a certain way because of her cultural heritage, and this has impacted her personal and professional life.
"Western culture has this stereotype of what they think Asian women are or what they shouldn't be. People make assumptions that Asian women are naturally submissive, and I've gotten that a lot in my life," she explains.
The reality TV star says the idea that all Asian women are and should be obedient and subdued is extremely problematic. She has received comments such as "you're quite loud for an Asian" or "you're crazy for an Asian" or "you're quite hot for an Asian".
As a model, Ellis has also faced challenges in a fashion industry that's only gradually improving in terms of cultural diversity and representation, saying that she's struggled to fit the ideal image that casting agents have in their minds of what an Asian woman should look like.
"When I would get casting calls for Asian women, I would get told, 'She's not Asian enough','" says Ellis.
Her background has also led to her feeling like she's caught between two cultures and not accepted by either at times.
"Within Asian culture, I'm too white. But then to western culture, I'm [too] Asian."
Image courtesy of Channel 9
Since appearing on MAFS, Ellis has not only been navigating her own relationship with her husband, but has strived to stand up for her female co-stars if they've been treated unfairly by their partners.
In last night's episode, Ellis told fellow cast member Sandy Jawanda that she had overheard her husband Dan Hunjas (through a mobile phone butt dial) speaking poorly of his TV wife and showing photos of his ex-girlfriends to other male cast members. 
Ellis says it was a "no brainer" to share what she knew with Jawanda, despite the chance it could come across as her meddling in someone else's relationship.
"I think sometimes people hold back on things on TV," she says. "I like to remind myself that my moral compass in the outside world and with a camera in my face is the same.
"Some people get it wrong where they might pick up something in real life, but they will be less obligated to do it when the camera's in their face because they don't want to be seen as a dobber or shit-stirrer."
In tonight's dinner party episode, Ellis promises she'll hold Hunjas accountable in front of the rest of the cast.
"[I thought]: am I going to stick up for something that's right, or am I going to keep my mouth shut and probably regret this in the future?" she says of her approach going into the dinner party.
As for how Hunjas, Jawanda and the rest of the cast react — we'll only know when the action unfolds on-screen tonight.
Image courtesy of Channel 9
The moment Evelyn Ellis told Sandy Jawanda about the butt dial
Married At First Sight airs Sunday at 7pm and Monday to Wednesday at 7:30pm on Channel 9 and 9Now.
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