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Joanna Gaines Says Growing Up Half Korean in America Wasn’t Easy

Racism is so ingrained in American culture even kids experience it. Joanna Gaines, one-half of the HGTV powerhouse duo that hosts Fixer Upper, just opened up about what it was like growing up half Korean in America, and, spoiler alert, it’s not great.

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Gaines told Darling magazine during an interview in an upcoming issue that she was bullied all throughout her childhood for her heritage.

“If you haven’t heard my story, my mom is full Korean and my dad is Caucasian,” she explained. “Kids in kindergarten would make fun of me for being Asian and when you’re that age you don’t know really how to process that; the way you take that is, ‘Who I am isn’t good enough.'”

That’s a heartbreaking thought for a kindergartener to have. And what’s even worse, being bullied for something completely outside her control affected Gaines’ self-image for much of her life, and especially when she moved from Texas to New York for her last semester of college.

“I don’t think confidence has ever really been one of those things that came naturally for me,” Gaines said. “If people thought I was confident, it was really just the way I masked my insecurity, because I didn’t want people to really get to know the real me.”

But, Gaines said, she wouldn’t be who she is today without having overcome those struggles.

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“I discovered that my purpose was to help people who are insecure because I didn’t like the way it made me feel, […] that’s not who I am,” she said, continuing with this heartening conclusion. “So while I was in New York I really felt like God was telling me that I would be able to help women who weren’t confident, who were looking for guidance or who were lonely. And so I knew that from that place of pain there was going to be a place to reach others because I had actually lived in that place; I had felt that pain myself.”

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