Fact: many Asian girls link arms when they are out and about.
When I lived in Malaysia and Singapore, I saw Asian girls and women walking in pairs through shopping malls with arms linked around the elbows, touching skin-on-skin. Sometimes I saw them even holding hands, walking and chatting with one another. Today whenever I troop down to Melbourne’s Chinatown, my eye will never fail to spy similar scenes.
Just what does it mean when Asian girls link arms, and why do they do it so frequently? Googling this trend, it seems Asian men in certain Asian countries do this as well.
This phenomenon has been discussed here and there on some online forums. There is no concrete evidence as to where it originated from, so we can only speculate the reasons why Asian girls are fans of linking arms today.
Contrary to popular belief, the sight of two Asian girls hooking their arms around one another usually does not signify that sexual behaviour is going on between them. Most of the time, it does not mean that both are in a homosexual relationship with one another or silently screaming “I love you” to the other – which is what many Westerners commonly think. Linking arms also tends not to be a means of physical protection or ganging up gung-ho style.
Putting this phenomenon down to a “cultural thing”, and “Asian thing”, is arguably a very reasonable explanation for it.
This act of linking arms on part of Asian girls – and some Asian boys, women, men – can be seen as an unconscious means to express hidden, pent-up emotional affection. After all, it is human nature to have intimate feelings towards other people and a desire to express that.
Kissing and hugging with the opposite sex in public is deemed rude in Asian cultures. In fact, showing physical affection to your heterosexual partner is often frowned upon and shunned in many conservative Asian societies. So where can Asian individuals express built-up affectionate emotions and with whom?
With the same sex of course. Linking arms/holding hands is as close as an Asian girl will get to another person outside of a heterosexual relationship. Acting touchy-feely with other Asian girls – for example playing with each other’s hair or putting make-up on one another – is constantly seen as cute in Asian communities.Also, Asian girls and boys are encouraged to stick closely with other girls and boys respectively, be it in the classroom or playground, by their parents from a young age up until their twenties. So an Asian girl out on the town might be unknowingly channeling any underlying affection she may have towards a (male) person she is attracted to through linking arms with a girl friend – and in the eyes of conventional Asian society, “arming up” with a girl is an acceptable act.
Or perhaps these Asian girls are just so accustomed to playing with their Asian female friends in intimate ways or maybe even attracted to one another in the harmless non-sexual girly “I-like you-a lot” sense, and so why not intimately wrangle their arms round one another? It’s just natural for them.
Another probable reason why Asian girls like to link arms or hold hands can be attributed to their obsession to look young and feel young – there are dozens of whitening anti-aging products in Asia fervently sought after by Asians. Holding hands is strongly associated with children: in school, children are always buddied-up and asked to line up in pairs holding hands in school during excursions or fire drills. As such, linking arms might very well hearten Asian girls to feel young again, maintaining a youthful façade.
And yet another logical explanation for this phenomenon is that it is a means whereby Asians convey friendship. A symbol of mutual friendship, plain and simple. Friendship is articulated in various forms: listening, sharing, hugging. So why not linking arms and holding hands? There’s no reason why linking arms or entwining hands can’t be an “Asian-code” of friendship, expressed by two Asian people who are very good friends. And a good, fun means to drag their best girl friend into a shop.
However, there is the possibility that this whole linking arms trend is really more a personal thing rather than a cultural one. That is, whether one links arms with their friends may depend solely on their personal preference and perspective on life.
Some Asians might find linking arms amicably with the same sex unsettling and surely not all of them like to do so. I know some of my Asian friends who find casually linking arms with the same sex as bizarre. Also, older Asians don’t seem to do it too often, so perhaps it’s a generational thing too?
I’m one of those who isn’t entirely a huge fan of linking arms with my female partners in crime. I don’t often link arms with them. I never initiate this linking arms thing, never slinging my skinny arms around my friends’ as we walk down the streets of Melbourne.
But on the occasional occasion when they hook their left arm over my right, I don’t object. To me, this feels…natural. And nice.
In such a promiscuous world today, it would be nice if we could all come to see the sight of two Asian girls linking arms as no more than two friends enjoying innocent, wholesome company. Why not?