Follow TV Tropes

Asian Hair Streak

Go To

An East Asian woman has blue, purple or red in her hair, often as a sign of delinquency and/or Action Girl tendencies.

This trope has been Nuked
Proposed By:
kiapet on Nov 21st 2014 at 10:14:37 PM
Last Edited By:
eleutherios on Oct 8th 2017 at 3:03:35 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: Trope

The tendency of East Asian women to have their hair colored with blue, purple or red, usually in streaks. This may be a downplayed form of You Gotta Have Blue Hair. As Asian women have traditionally been portrayed as delicate and submissive, this minor bit of Delinquent Hair can serve as a visual shorthand of the woman in question's attitude and refusal to conform. Consequently, this style is most often seen in Action Girls. The streak may also be meant to give them a more "exotic" look, which dives straight into Unfortunate Implications. Or maybe it just looks cool.


Film - Animated

  • In Big Hero 6, GoGo Tomago has streaks of purple in her bangs, which go along with her general Biker Babe demeanor.
  • In Titan A.E., Akima has big purple bangs.

Film - Live Action

Live-Action Television

  • Tina from Glee has blue hair streaks in the first season. She loses them later on.

Western Animation

Feedback: 77 replies

Nov 21st 2014 at 10:31:57 PM

I've seen this YKTTW at least two times before.

Nov 21st 2014 at 11:02:18 PM

Is it telling that tumblr ppl noticed this first?

Nov 22nd 2014 at 12:44:26 AM

  • Examples section
    • Changed media section titles to All Caps, Blue Linked them and deleted unnecessary colons.
    • Namespaced and italicized work names.

Nov 22nd 2014 at 1:21:21 AM

Maybe. The examples don't say anything about the characters besides that they have mustaches.

Nov 22nd 2014 at 3:08:49 AM

^ that's when the hair color changes as a response to something weird or supernatural.

This is simply about some wild streak of differently colored hair.

Nov 22nd 2014 at 4:53:56 AM

Hm, I must say I kind of like the concept, though it needs serious work to see if this idea shapes as a legitimate trope. I see the potential for characterization in that it's Delinquent Hair for Asian teen girls and women. However, the examples need to mention their personality and background. So far it's only a couple of ZCE and they really read like PSOC — though as I said, I feel it's tropeworthy.

Locked Into Strangeness is a bit more specific.

Nov 22nd 2014 at 5:10:26 AM

Seconded, There's this image floating around with a bunch of Asian female character with this feature. It definitely looks like a thing.

Also, guys, save your feelings about tumblr and its userbase for somewhere else.

Nov 22nd 2014 at 5:44:13 AM

  • In Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, Knives Chau (Asian) dyes her hair to imitate Ramona (Caucasian), in an attempt to win Scott back from her. Instead of colouring the whole style (as Ramona does), she only dyes in a streak. She keeps it until Todd punches her so hard it knocks it off.

Nov 22nd 2014 at 9:20:05 AM

That image is a good place to start, it seems to me, so I'll try to write up descriptions for the ones I recognise.

  • Nikki from Western Animation/6Teen has this exaggerated, until almost the entirety of her hair is purple, with the exception of that on the 'inside' (e.g. facing her neck).
  • The character Blink from X Men:Days Of Future Past has this. (Meanwhile, at least one version of her comic book counterpart has entirely purple skin and hair.)

Nov 22nd 2014 at 9:23:41 AM

^ You need to write "6Teen" as "WesternAnimation/SixTeen" (the Custom Title system should turn it into Six Teen on the actual wiki); wiki words beginning with numbers don't parse.

You can also just put X Men Days Of Future Past as Film/XMenDaysOfFuturePast. The same system'll sort out the semi-colons for you (as you can see there).

Nov 22nd 2014 at 9:58:57 AM

Thanks for adding the write-ups, Completely Different, but please have a look at Zero Context Examples.

The example should look something like this:

  • Alice from series XYZ is an American highschooler of Chinese origin and she's a rebelious teenager who often ends up in trouble. She has short black hair with a blue streak.

Also check out correct Example Indentation.

Nov 25th 2014 at 9:40:44 AM

Does Scott Pilgrim not fit the trope?

Nov 25th 2014 at 1:56:33 PM

I'm... not seeing the Unfortunate Implications of using this to denote exoticism. One brightly-colored streak of hair doesn't happen in nature, so of course it's exotic.

It may also be worth noting in the description that there's a simple reason why this shows up in animation: combine straight black hair (which the majority of East Asian women have) with Only Six Faces and it can be hard to tell characters apart. This is an easy way to add a distinguishing feature to a main character.

Nov 25th 2014 at 3:27:03 PM

And strangely, eastern media never depict themselves this way...

Nov 25th 2014 at 4:27:44 PM


  • In the Tokyo subplot of Babel, the deaf girl and her friend both sport red/rose colored streaks in their hair.

Nov 25th 2014 at 6:11:12 PM

  • Rw By: Lie Ren sports a pink streak of hair on his otherwise black hair. The world of RWBY is a Constructed World and there isn't supposed to be a China (or any East Asia) but he's clearly based on Asian features, including the streak.

Nov 26th 2014 at 2:23:49 PM

The Unfortunate Implications part is when the Asian character is made to look exotic, as opposed to the "normal" white characters.

Nov 26th 2014 at 2:59:01 PM

^ That... sounds like more than a bit of a stretch to me.

Nov 26th 2014 at 7:40:04 PM

^^ Just WHAT are the implications? Be clear.

Nov 29th 2014 at 3:26:05 PM

Please note that the use of the Unfortunate Implications trope requires a citation or a mod will remove it. See trope page for details.

Nov 29th 2014 at 4:40:33 PM

  • Karen from Fillmore is Japanese-American and has pink bangs.
  • Jake from American Dragon Jake Long is a rare male example, as he has green highlights. It serves to show off his savvy, Jive Turkey nature.
  • Ray from Kaijudo is half-Japanese and has his bangs dyed red.

Nov 29th 2014 at 5:31:24 PM

Does it have to be women?

Nov 29th 2014 at 6:05:58 PM

Nearly everyone of these is a character who just so happens to have a streak in her hair. Tropes have to signify something or it's People Sit On Chairs.

Nov 29th 2014 at 8:26:42 PM

^ it signifies Asian-ness

Nov 29th 2014 at 8:50:46 PM

^ ...What? ^^ I think it's a trope like how Significant Green Eyed Redhead is.

Nov 30th 2014 at 12:57:03 AM

^^^ I don't know what you're talking about, it's explained pretty well. Frankly, having seen that picture before, I'm surprised this isn't a trope already.

Nov 30th 2014 at 1:07:15 AM

The examples don't say anything about the character's Asian-ness. The description says, "this minor bit of Delinquent Hair can serve as a visual shorthand of the woman in question's attitude and refusal to conform," but none of the examples say anything about that.

Nov 30th 2014 at 2:06:12 AM

^What the hell constitutes Asain-ness? I'd think the fact that they're Asian is enough.

Nov 30th 2014 at 12:05:50 PM

Description says that the hair streak is added because asians would be plain without it. (Which is decidedly western-only sentiment; eastern works never depict their own people this way.)

I believe this kind of thing happens in the eighties when "modernized" asians show up in western media and closely associated with punks, but I don't really explore it much.

Nov 30th 2014 at 7:34:45 PM

^ I don't get why this is so common but I wonder if it has to do with Cyber Punk, and the stereotype of technology advanced Tokyo, and dyed hair. Or since they're almost always young, somewhat rebellious characters it's going against old stereotype. Either way it's a form of Delinquent Hair.

Tumblr posts:

Dec 1st 2014 at 9:30:31 AM

Name: Purple Hair Streak

Laconic: Hair is [[Delinquent Hair partially dyed]] to indicate a personality of independence within a culture.

Definition: The character's hair has one or two highlights of a dramatic colour. Most commonly purple, but other common colours are blue, red, and skunk-stripe white. This Appearance Trope is a subtrope to Delinquent Hair, where less of the natural hairstyle is changed to reflect less of a rebellion against their culture.

  • Subverted by Knives of Scott Pilgrim , who dyes her hair with a blue streak to imitate competing Love Interest Ramona. Instead of being independent, she latches onto the main character and struggles to be a person outside of him.
  • In Gotham, Fish Mooney dyes her bangs blood red. She operates her part of the mob until she can replace the Don.

Dec 1st 2014 at 9:32:47 AM

This is common with asian females, but not restricted to it.

Dec 1st 2014 at 9:57:00 AM

I wonder why the asian media never portray asians this way? (They might have characters with odd hair streaks but they're either delinquent, not asian, or not even human. At least that's what I saw.)

Dec 1st 2014 at 12:46:00 PM

The examples need to make it clear that the character is of East Asian descent and how they're tough and/or non-conforming.

Jan 30th 2015 at 2:51:49 PM

I think it's a great idea to have this trope. It'd be nice to start a conversation on the implications of it. This seems like a 'But Not Too Exotic' issue.

Jan 30th 2015 at 3:37:18 PM

Who wanna grab this? (Not me, btw)

Jan 30th 2015 at 4:31:43 PM

If someone could give me some resources or a help guide, I'd gladly take it on.

Feb 1st 2015 at 6:51:57 AM

Feb 1st 2015 at 8:00:22 AM

Do you have any examples?

Feb 1st 2015 at 11:47:47 AM

^ look @ the comments...

Feb 1st 2015 at 1:39:34 PM

sigh was asking for examples of humanized Twilights with clip-ons.

Mar 13th 2015 at 2:17:40 PM

In Detenionaire, the main character of Korean descent, Lee Ping, has a mullet split into red and black

Apr 7th 2015 at 4:06:46 AM

Bump, again.

And again, I can safely say that this trope is a western thing (as in you would't expect the trope in East Asian works)

Apr 7th 2015 at 8:56:21 AM

I think we just need one trope about common hair color eye color race combinations. E.g. blue-eyed blonde, green-eyed redhead, bald black man, Asian with a purple streak, etc. Those are very common, they're often used as ready-made design combos, they're almost visual cliches, but I doubt each one of them is a trope in itself.

UPD: Reading the Significant Green Eyed Redhead trope now. Hoo boy. Looks like a list of every character with GE and RH in media. Now I'm seriously in favor of combining all the "common appearance combos" tropes onto one trope page. Who's with me?

Apr 7th 2015 at 5:01:28 PM

^ try saying that in the "grand personal appearance tropes thread". I will make you my enemy if you do, though.

Yeah, a good number of people have quite a beef (or, should I say, salt) with them.

Apr 8th 2015 at 10:07:38 AM

^ Woah woah, I didn't mean to say anything confrontational. Sorry if I touched a nerve. Maybe I just didn't understand that trope properly. Thanks for the advice, I'll look up the thread you mentioned to read what people have said about the matter, maybe it'll help me understand it better then.

Dec 13th 2015 at 8:30:44 PM

So.... Is there anything to this trope? I have seen it over a dozen times but what does it mean exactly? I have noticed asian characters have hair streaks more than other races but is there a significance or what? If not then it's probably People Sit On Chairs. I remember seeing YKTTW's about Jewish redheads but besides it being extremely common in fiction it didn't seem to have any trope meaning behind it and thus wasn't tropeworthy.

^^^ I'm still not sure what Significant Green Eyed Redhead means tbqh. I remember it being cleaned up compared to a while back but compared to stuff like Hair Of Gold or Icy Blue Eyes it doesn't seem to have any significance behind it besides being a common visual trope. I wonder why we don't have a "Blue Eyed Blond" trope if we have the green eyed redhead one.

Dec 13th 2015 at 9:15:26 PM

I agree, I see this ALL THE DAMN TIME. But I also am not sure what it means beyond maybe just a copy-cat thing. Like someone did it once and it was popular so now everyone does it in American media. I think the description might be on to something though. The vast majority of Asians naturally have black hair so adding a streak of color shows they are cool and/or rebellious. But on the other hand, you have to ask yourself, why only Asians? Blacks, Arabs, Indians, and Indigenous people of the Americas and Australia also have almost uniformly black hair and it's not a thing with them for some reason, so...????

About Green-Eyed Redhead, it's a combination of the rarest hair color and the rarest eye-color, meaning a person who has both is a super-duper-special-snowflake because in Real Life it is so rare. So creators tend to give characters who they see as super-duper-special-snowflakes this hair and eye color in media, just to show off how unique, special and important they are in the story as compared to other characters, even significant ones. It's hard to get more specific than that because usually what makes them special is different in a case-by-case basis, depending on the story.

Dec 13th 2015 at 10:33:49 PM

^ but ain't green-eyed redhead also evocative of Scot Ireland?

Back to this ykttw, I believe this stems fron Delinquent Hair that Japanese (dunno about Chinese but maybe they do) have. This trait is then brought to the west to signify a "rebellious, dynamic" Asian character.

Dec 13th 2015 at 11:42:01 PM

^Sure, but that would be a different trope. Also, it's more red hair than green-eyes, or even red and green eyes together when it comes to scots, and the often confused irish. Also it's a viking thing, too.

Also the typical Delinquent Hair in Japan is actually completely bleached blond hair. Colored streaks need not apply. This is a western thing for Asian characters, it's not actually a thing in Asian media, to my knowledge.

Dec 14th 2015 at 12:47:12 AM

"This is a western thing for Asian characters, it's not actually a thing in Asian media, to my knowledge."

Exactly my point some posts ago. :3

Dec 14th 2015 at 12:54:03 AM

^You just said "This trait is then brought to the west" though.

Dec 14th 2015 at 3:53:38 AM

^ what's wrong with that?

Dec 14th 2015 at 5:11:57 PM

^ This trope does not in any way originate from Eastern media. "Delinquent Hair" has a Western Version that isn't connected to the Eastern version. They are basically the same, (Eastern: character dies their hair unnatural colors for an Asian person, usually blond vs, Western: character dies their hair unnatural colors for any person, usually green or blue or pink) but one didn't originate from the other. Saying it was transported to the west is just plain incorrect. The Tropes have the same roots in the human psyche, but you can't say one came from the other.

Dec 14th 2015 at 7:41:16 PM

Subtrope to Facial Profiling used to signify asian women.

Dec 15th 2015 at 1:02:07 AM

^^ wrong wording, then?

I was meant to say that western works portray asian delinquents this way.

Feb 8th 2016 at 3:48:35 PM

Someone mentioned this already but what about making a YKTTW for these sort of hair color related (Facial Profiling?) tropes in general, instead of seperating them? The "Jewish Redhead" and "East Asian with Highlights" comes to mind already.

Feb 8th 2016 at 6:25:51 PM

^ So "hair profiling"?

Feb 8th 2016 at 8:53:53 PM

Sure, if we can think of enough variations.

Mar 2nd 2016 at 8:37:54 AM

Can someone fix the examples? All they do is talk about the stripe. They don't talk about how it signifies rebellion and makes it look like People Sit on Chairs. The only characters I know are Go Go and Juniper. Can anyone vouch for the others?

Mar 2nd 2016 at 11:33:11 AM

If I remember correctly this seems to show up a lot more often when the woman has high abilities with technology. Is that a thing or I'm just imaigning it?

Mar 2nd 2016 at 3:09:45 PM

^ The Dragonball Evolution version of Bulma had a hair streak, and is not Asian but is based on an Asian Gadgeteer Genius. She's also more of an Action Girl than the original character.

Mar 4th 2016 at 8:23:05 PM

^^^ I made a super trope version of this trope. I suppose it's less chair sitting than this.

Mar 10th 2016 at 11:18:21 AM

I dont see the PSOC aspect, its a visual sterotype, like Mexican Mustaches, or blacks with saggy jeans.

Mar 10th 2016 at 6:51:11 PM

^ the better question is if "visual stereotype" is chairs or not. I'm leaning towards... not sure.

Jul 3rd 2016 at 9:59:19 PM

Sorry to resurrect this thing, but it's been bothering me for a while and I've finally gotten around to responding.

As the discussion above so cogently points out, this is a <i>western</i> trope about Asian people who don't really use it themselves. Hence, forgive me for conflating westerness with whiteness, it's a trope by white people for the benefit of other white people.

It's a race trope, which means, unfortunately, that there isn't really any way of avoiding racism and a discussion of it.

From what I've observed, this trope is supposed to be a subversion of most, if not all, western stereotypes of Asians; basically, that Asians are identical, interchangeable and incapable of independent thought. The typical racist western stereotype of Asians is basically that of human ants or robots, with a side of exotic and passive sex doll for women. There's also an assumption of orthodoxy and traditionalism, which feeds into the exoticism as it is not an orthodoxy or tradition shared with westerners.

What this hair streak symbolises, in a single visual motif, is uniqueness, independence, disobedience, action and rejection of tradition. For all of those people who profess to be unable to tell Asians apart, it's a visual marker that this is supposed to be a unique character, not one of any number of identical extras. It's also important that the colours of this hair streak aren't found naturally, giving a whiff of "punk" rebelliousness and modernity, but also that it definitely means that it is dyed. By dying their hair, they are implicitly disobeying the imagined Asian parents who would prefer their daughter to not do so, but is also an active decision: this character made the active choice to defy traditional orthodoxy and dye her hair, in one rejecting both passivity and traditionalism.

So this makes her a modern, active and independent character with a rebellious, unorthodox streak, in one averting all of the stereotypes that would otherwise relegate her to be another anonymous extra, and handily making her instantly identifiable to the more racist members of your audience who might otherwise have trouble separating her from said anonymous extras.

Or at least that's what I think it meant originally; these days it's probably more of a convention than anything, and what with every Asian girl dying her hair to some extent these days it's increasingly meaningless.

I'd argue, really, that any stereotype that comes from one race or culture to apply to another has some inherent meaning, even if it is just part of the dominant perception of what that other race or culture is; it tells you a lot about the relationship between the two cultures and the self image and perceptions of the one making the stereotype. I suppose if you are a member of the stereotyping group you might not see the meaning as it's already baked into your world view, but that doesn't actually mean it doesn't have any meaning.

Jul 3rd 2016 at 10:04:40 PM


Don't include anime/manga and other asian-originate works.

This is a racial stereotype and brunette trope: black hair looks boring on Asian people (because they all have it), let's spice up their appearence!

You MUST mention this in the description.

(^FYI I was going to write this before I read your comment.)

Aug 23rd 2017 at 1:38:20 PM

The characters who have the hair streak are mostly Asian women who don't conform to the usual submissiveness of Asian women that is so prominent in media. The Asian Hair Streak is basically shorthand for "This is an Action Girl, unlike all those other Asian ladies." I can't think of more than one example of this trope who is a non-action kind of petson, if that.

Aug 24th 2017 at 2:48:14 PM

Western animation: Sabine from Star Wars: Rebels.

Oct 8th 2017 at 3:03:35 AM

^^ Agreed.

I think this trope could be strongly contrasted with Hime Hair. While Asian Hair Streak is a Western media trope that signifies "uniqueness" and rebellion of an East Asian (usually) female character; Hime Hair is predominantly Japanese media trope associated with female characters who conform to traditional East Asian ideals of femininity and nobility. Also, as DAN 004 established, it should be pointed out in trope description that Asian media has different ways of signifying when a character is a rebel/Action Girl.