Joanna Gaines Revealed She and Her Mom Endured Anti-Asian Harassment: ‘She Didn’t Know How to Help Me’

Joanna Gaines revealed that she sometimes experienced anti-Asian harassment growing up with a mother who emigrated from Korea. The bullying started early, causing her to feel ashamed of who she was and question if she was good enough. Read on to discover why Joanna’s mom sometimes didn’t know how to help her in those scenarios. Plus, how the Magnolia Network star feels about her Korean heritage now.

Joanna Gaines, pictured on 'Today' on November 6, 2018, was the target of anti-Asian harassment.
Joanna Gaines | Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Joanna Gaines said her mom is ‘so tough’ but would ‘shut down’ over anti-Asian harassment

Joanna’s mom, Nan, moved to the United States from South Korea in 1972, and Joanna was born in Kansas in 1978. Her family later moved to Texas, where she eventually planted roots with Chip Gaines in Waco.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Joanna revealed that she and her mother both experienced anti-Asian harassment because of their heritage. “My mom is so tough, but with one look or comment, I would just see her shut down,” she said.

“That’s why she didn’t know how to help me when I would come home and say, ‘So-and-so called me this,’” she added. “It was also happening to her.”

Joanna explained that her experiences made her more sensitive to others who might be going through the same thing. “Growing up as half-Asian, half-Caucasian, I get what that feels like to not be accepted and to not be loved,” she offered. “That’s the last thing I want anyone to ever feel.”

Joanna Gaines said her ‘Korean heritage is 1 of the things she’s most proud of’ after experiencing anti-Asian harassment

Joanna said the harassment she experienced in her youth started early. “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,” she said in a press release for her book, The World Needs Who You Were Made to Be (per People).

She added, “The way you take that is, ‘Who I am isn’t good enough.'”

At the same time, Joanna saw that her mother had similar experiences. “I remember as a little girl being out with my mom and seeing how in a moment, a person’s harsh look or an underhanded comment would attempt to belittle her rich story and her beautiful culture,” she recalled.

Now, the mom of five said her “Korean heritage is one of the things [she’s] most proud of.”

“I’m trying to make up for that lost time — the culture is just so beautiful,” the Fixer Upper star added. “I think discovering who you are and what you were made to do is a lifelong journey.”

Joanna Gaines said some accusations

Joanna told THR that facing allegations of racism and homophobia related to donating to a relative’s school board campaign was bothersome. And that wasn’t just because of her heritage and past experiences, but also because those accusations were baseless, she said.

The college-student mom explained, “… It’s so far from who we really are,” and added, “That’s the stuff that keeps me up.”

RELATED: Chip Gaines Revealed He Often Finds Himself ‘in the Passenger Seat’ as a Dad: ‘There Whenever They Need a Helping Hand’