“I still haven’t found it, with a capital I,” Mitski explains. “In the U.S., I don’t quite feel American and I don’t quite feel white enough. But then, to fellow Asian people or in Japan, I’m also a foreigner. I’m mixed, I’m half white, I’m not Asian enough, I don’t understand… I’m stuck in this kind of middle ground of not being allowed in either camp.”
Ever since Mitski released “Your Best American Girl” months ago, no matter where I am when I listen to it, there’s a 95% chance I’m gonna have tears in my eyes by the end of the first chorus.
your mother wouldn’t approve
of how my mother raised me
but I do, I think I do
and you’re an all-American boy
I guess I couldn’t help try to be
your best American girl…
I understand that Mitski wrote this song about a very specific relationship, a specific experience that belonged to her, but it feels so much more universal than that. She wrote it for herself, but in ways, it feels like she wrote it for every woman of color, every woman with a complex identity, who ever fell in love with a white American guy.
It’s that feeling when you exist between fixed identities and because you don’t belong anywhere, you are both everywhere and nowhere.
It’s that feeling when “America” is supposed to be a “melting pot” but you know you’ll never be that “American girl.”
It’s that feeling when you know that you can’t — and shouldn’t try — change who you are in order to be what someone else wants, but that means you feel like you might never be enough of anything for anyone.
It’s that feeling when you resent media and culture for breeding in you an attraction to that white American boy aesthetic, but it doesn’t change the fact that that IS what you’re attracted to.
And, it’s not learning how to stop feeling any of those things, but learning how to live with them.