Play! by Sephora: March Review

Monthly subscription boxes are the hottest new trend to treat yo’ self. In addition to just the pure excitement of receiving mail, there’s also the aspect of literally opening a package of surprises catered to your tastes. The idea of sending deluxe beauty/cosmetic samples for a low monthly fee, first came from Birchbox in 2010 and was later revolutionized by ipsy. Sephora hopped on this train at the end of 2015 and was apparently so well received that they have a wait list at times to subscribe to the box. Being thrifty, I’ve always been skeptical that the samples you receive in these monthly boxes will actually be valued for the $10 price, or that the samples will simply be disappointing. However, I felt compelled to try Play! by Sephora since I regularly shop at Sephora and am a fan of their brands which are more high-end than drugstore names, like Kat Von D Cosmetics, tarte, Make Up Forever, Anastasia Beverly Hills and so on.  

I received my first box the other day, so let’s take a look at what’s inside!

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March’s box focused on all things glowing, gleaming, and bright. Having glimmering cheeks like the sparkling light blue waters of a tropical beach is the latest trend. Everyone on Instagram has been sporting shimmering highlighted faces in the sun.

The samples were neatly packed in cute ribbon tie pouch that reads, “Glow Your Own Way”.

The items are:

  • A card for 50 bonus Beauty Insider points with purchase (this is standard with every box)
  • GlamGlow- Glowstarter Mega Illuminating Moisturizer in Nude Glow- This is a two in one moisturizer that doubles as a highlighter. It’s creamy, sparkly, and smells super sweet like a dessert yogurt drink!
  • Benefit Cosmetic- Watt’s Up!– This is a highlighter stick that glides on smoothly and provides a more natural shine. Benefit Cosmetic’s products are of really good quality, but I’ve personally received the same Watt’s Up sample so many times I couldn’t be excited for it. Despite all the times I had it, I’ve actually only gotten close to buying the full size. Still didn’t do it though. I think for me, the pigment isn’t dramatic enough for the price.
  • Algenist- REVEAL Concentrated Luminizing Drops in Pearl- This sample was the one I was most excited for! They are pure concentrated liquid drops of a creamy white pearl highlighter. You squeeze them out in a eyedropper bottle and it looks like a tiny gleaming pearl falls onto your skin. This color is more of a brighter white-cream shade than the other samples, but is so vibrant and pigmented.
  • Make Up Forever- Artist Shadow in I-544– I wasn’t excited when I saw this but it grew on me. It’s an eyeshadow that looks like a very dark bronze to the eye, but when applied it actually has very subtle whispers of pink. They call it a “pink granite” color but to me it’s more of a bronze gold dust with very slight hints of pink which results in a dusty purple. I have applied it in the picture below. 
  • Living Proof- Full Dry Volume Blast– Travel sized spray can to provide hair some life with volume and texture! I haven’t tried this yet but I’ve heard great things about Living Proof.
  • Atelier Cologne- Clementine California– There’s a post card and tiny cologne sample that’s more for smelling than actual use. It’s a very heavy citrus aroma with floral tones. I think they were going for a sunny Californian day, which I can totally imagine. It reminds me of a countryside highway besides an orange farm and a field of poppies!
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I’m wearing the Make Up Forever & Algenist samples!

My verdict? The box was definitely worth $10 and the products were carefully and thoughtfully  picked! I’m excited to receive April’s box which I hope is a beautiful Spring themed box.

We Need Feminism More Than Ever in 2017

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Image Source: New York Magazine

It’s still a mystery why after all the strides we’ve managed to make through the decades, how a privileged rich old white man with practically zero presidential or political experience who advocates to “grab her by the pussy” became the 45th President of the United States. It’s really devastating to read articles about bright, ambitious individuals who were interested to coming to America change their minds after seeing the current state of US affairs. It’s no doubt that we still had a long way to go in terms of political, economic and social rights before, but now the government is pretty much the butt of every joke. Seriously, it’s kind of difficult to go a day without getting a notification about some deplorable executive order or proposed law.

In case you know someone who lives in a cave or plugs their ears with their fingers and violently screams, “LA LA LA” when addressing the deteriorating equal rights of genders, here are some sources to site when arguing why we need feminism more than ever.

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Image Source: Huffington Post

  1. Brock Turner and Rape Culture

Yeah, I’m pretty sure we were all tired of seeing his ugly frazzled mug every five seconds when scrolling through any social or news feed for a time. Brock Turner the rapist Standford swimmer who escaped his crime with a slap of the wrist, maybe less than a slap—like a tap or a pinch, of raping an unconscious girl behind a dumpster. Classy, right? His father penned a letter to the judge asking leniency for his crime, defending that his life will never be the same and that jail time would be “a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action…” Maybe sir you should have simply taught your son not to abuse women but if you see your son’s heinous crime as “action” maybe someone should have taught you. It’s 2017 and sadly rape culture is still a thing.

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  1. Abortions and Planned Parenthood

The Trump administration’s mission statement, besides ruining America, is to take reproductive rights away from women. If it were the other way around, pregnant men would be able to find abortion clinics every other block like a Starbucks. Sadly that’s not the case and Trump is seeking to defund Planned Parenthood and ban abortion. The fight for the rights to control our own bodies is still very much real.

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Image Source: CNN Money

  1. Wage Gap

Women are often paid less than their male counterparts for the same work. Not because they are less qualified, but because they are women. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, in 2015, females only made 80 cents or every dollar that a man made, meaning men are paid 20% more. The gap gets worse when you’re a woman of color, ranging from 50-60 cents instead of 80.

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  1. Gender Identity and Bathrooms

On February 22, Trump rescinded laws that allowed transgender students to use bathrooms of their gender identity. Seriously? You can’t even let people use the bathroom safely? The truth is, trans students risk harassment when forced to use restrooms assigned to their birth gender. It should be a basic human right to be able to use the bathroom safely and comfortably.

 

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US president or high school bully?

  1. Trump

Just, everything about Trump and his misogyny is deplorable. He treats women as objects, even his daughter in a pretty disgusting ambiguously incestial fashion. From calling Alicia Machado names such as “Miss Piggy” and “Miss Housekeeping” to his infamous “grab her by the pussy” video, his sexist attacks leave me dumbfounded to say the least. Donald Trump has feuds with countless strong women personalities, one of them being Meryl Streep, who called him out on making fun of someone with disabilities.

So, if you know someone who thinks feminist issues are a thing of the past, here’s a small list of the many things that are going wrong at the moment.

Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room Battling the Basic

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Starbucks is often synonymous with basic and *like totally* known for that time of the year when the leaves fade into a sunset palette and flocks of girls donning their uggs, yoga pants and fleece jackets make their yearly migration for the sacred pumpkin spice latte, or infamously shortened, PSL.

It’s not a surprise that Starbucks faces a branding problem. No one really wants to be called basic, especially in a time where sophisticated coffee culture has reached an unprecedented high and local coffee roasters can get away with charging as much as $15 for a pour-over to patrons curious to hear about the tale of the hand-picked beans and the far away farm.

This so-called “battle against the basic” leads us to Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room, which is unlike any other Starbucks I’ve seen. I’d call this place a must-see for any Seattle vacation agenda, especially for coffee lovers.

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The Starbucks Reserve Exterior-Image Source: Starbucks

This upscale, experience-focused roastery features everything you’d see in a hipster joint and more. If I had to describe it simply, it was kind of like a hipster Starbucks museum factory. The coffee is brewed any way you’d want, the baristas are “coffee experts” whom are happy to answer any questions you may have, there’s a spacious floor plan with cabin-themed seating and a vast fancy menu pinned down to little wooden clipboards. Oh, not to mention, you know those little trinkets that capture your attention on your way to pay? There’s a whole section of that with the most unnecessarily interesting things ranging from cute mugs to Penny Skateboards to really expensive sustainably-made clothing. Apparently, the beans gotta pass a lot of tests to make the cut. The Starbucks website states, “less than 1% of all Starbucks beans will qualify for this distinction, and some are so scarce they might never be available again.” Damn!

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What are thoooose

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Anyways, I ended up getting a coffee flight because I’m a sucker for coffee flights and I love having options. My best friend got the affogato which I also contemplated heavily. To my surprise, I could actually taste the difference between the coffees (something I wouldn’t expect from a normal Starbucks). They were served in cute little silver pots with fancy post card-quality labels. My favorite was the second one, the Guatemala.

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Needless to say, I was pretty hyper and bouncing off the walls by the time we left. According to Business Insider, Starbucks plans to shed their basic identity includes opening more of these premium locations in the US and in other parts of the world such as Shanghai, China.

If you head to Seattle or any of these Reserve locations open up near you, I definitely recommend paying a visit. I can’t say that I’ll start going to the various Starbucks chains near me, but I definitely think these Reserves proves Starbucks can be more than just a basic bitch.

Not Your Asian Accessory

 

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I’ll fight my own battles, thx.

I’m not your Asian sidekick.

I’m not your fetish.

I’m not your model minority.

I’m sick of having white people tell our narratives in the media. I’m sick of scanning through ads and posts and only seeing a sea of pale white faces. Who the hell thought it was a good idea to have Matt Damon star in a movie about The Great Wall of China? Stop perpetuating the idea that only a white man can save the world. We don’t need your whitewashing, we don’t need your skin to sell our stories. Why would a gweilo be fighting monsters in the Song Dynasty anyway?

I can remember so vividly looking for a face like mine on the TV, in toys, cartoons and finding none.

Years later, now, I still try to find what’s relatable to my image and am fall short. Strangely enough, whiteness is malleable, that reliability is more sound– but the slightest difference for a POC is loud.

That doesn’t look like you at all, are you kidding?  

A white man can throw on a mask and be whatever he wants. An Asian man throws on a cape, a blue shirt with a big “S” and is Asian Superman. Why is it that white people can be whoever they wish, but for POC we can only be imitations?

I’m sick of Asians being sidekicks, minor characters, background, accessories.

We won’t be your Kato anymore. We won’t humor you with fake accents and play the joke of a Long Duk Dong.

Cast more Asians as leads.

Let us tell our own stories.

Let us be sexual beings.

Stop hiding who we really are with stereotypes.

We need more Asian heroes and heroines. Not your model minority bullshit that you love to perpetuate. We need the bad bitch Asians, the artists. We need change.

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#NotYourAsianSidekick

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Aggretsuko is all of us

Move aside anamorphic nude anxiety-filled egg yolk, Sanrio’s newest character is bound to steal all our hearts in 2017. Why? Because she is all of us at some point in our lives.

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Image Source: Sanrio. Aggretsuko ©2015 SANRIO CO. LTD. I am in no way affiliated with or claiming any ownership of Sanrio or any of its characters.

Aggretsuko is a cute, seemingly shy, single 25-year old red panda who works as an office associate in the big city of Tokyo, Japan. She’s always dreamt of working in such a highly respected office but it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. She works long hours and is constantly being taken advantage of by her apathetic bosses while being bothered by her talkative colleagues (primarily portrayed by a gluttonous, can’t take a hint, hippo). After work she lets loose by downing pints of beer and screaming all her  frustration, anger, and ever so familiar feelings of early 20s disenchantment into a microphone in a karaoke room. We are told to not be fooled by her cute appearance, because on the inside she is a wild animal who knows she’s worth more.

At the end of her introduction trailer, she is seen hobbling down the dark streets of Tokyo, supposedly after a night of drinking with her two office cohorts, declaring, “Tomorrow is a new day!”

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Image Source: Sanrio.

Her story is definitely not a new one, but certainly new in the world of super cute Sanrio. Historically, Hello Kitty and all her friends all have personalities and character traits but never ones that seemed so damn relatable. It’s almost as if Sanrio’s marketing team sat down and said, “Hey, let’s analyze where our initial audience is in this point and time in their lives now and make a character that will appeal to them now.” I’m actually almost certain that’s what they did because how else would they have developed a character that hit us so much in the feels?!

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Hello Kitty, Hello Art! by Sanrio & Roger Gastman

I mean, I absolutely love Hello Kitty, My Melody and their friends but never once did I think, “Wow I’m just like Hello Kitty. I also perpetually eat apples, bake pastries, and live in a small house in a 2D forest/small town and ambiguously go to grade school?…” Although, Hello Kitty’s simple design and lack of mouth may be Sanrio’s largest statement, as her character is open to interpretation and can be different symbols to different people. There is something about her plain and clean design that leaves much to the imagination that allows for her to be a muse to many artists and her audience alike.

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Image Source: Sanrio

 

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Image Source: Emilys Diary

Sanrio’s previous new addition, Gudetama, is arguably another attempt at targeting a niche audience. Gudetama is literally an egg yolk, who is so lazy to the point it would seem he is suffering from crippling anxiety. He likes retreating into his egg whites and hiding from the world. I would say that he was the product of a generation of Tumblr “sad girls” and “sad boys” whom unite via Internet and face enormous social anxiety. His plain and pained appearance is reminiscent to the self-depcracating trend of comparing yourself to a potato. Gudetama never appealed to me personally because of his unattractive appearance. I definitely sympathize with his character, but I wouldn’t want to own items with him on it because of his very pained, slightly constipated looking, appearance. I’m thinking Sanrio realized this and decided to go back to the drawing board with Aggretsuko.

The main reason I think Aggretsuko will steal our hearts is that she’s relatable. She faces real life problems, one that plights many post-college graduates who have no idea what they’re doing. She also faces the harsh reality of realizing our dreams aren’t always what we thought. Many times, we are told to shoot for the stars and we romanticize the images we see on social media of trust fund babies relaxing at beach resorts wearing Gucci flip-flops. In reality, when we graduate and actually land an entry-level job or internship we find ourselves paying off student loans and therefore making re-introduction to cup noodles. Besides being relatable, Aggretsuko actually has a solid personality as well as being attractive, indulges in adult vices such as alcohol and staying out late. In conclusion, I’m excited to see more of Aggretsuko and her character development this upcoming year. Sanrio, you’ve done it again.

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Image Source: Sanrio

 

I Don’t Have a New Year’s Resolution

Originally published on my medium.

I thought I did and I threw some around, but then I realized I didn’t want to only resolve to improve myself once a year.

I want to make goals and challenge myself all year-round. Although I am completely and utterly guilty of this, I don’t want to have to wait to make change. I want to muster up the courage and face difficulties when it is needed.

I don’t want to have an excuse to wait.

The image above, was taken on New Year’s Jan 1, 2016, about a year ago. I wanted to stand above an LA freeway with the wind blowing my red hair throwing up peace signs like, “Damnnnn 2016 don’t got nothing on me! Anotha year of self-love and confidence!”

But that would have been a lie. I was completely miserable at the time. I had been depressed for countless months and I wanted so badly to love myself and to encourage others to do the same but I really didn’t like who I was. I was breathing but I wasn’t alive. Rather than living my life, I was trapped in my own existence. Only sparsely would I feel engaged with my species-being when I was lost in a flurry of music, bright lights, booze or the pages of a good book.

This is sorta more my attitude.

With that being said, I am so much happier now. I made a lot of life changes, some of which were very hard and left me lost for months. But there’s always a a teeny tiny spark of light at the end of the tunnel that we can never see when we’re looking every other way, trying to dig away at cave walls. I’ve come to appreciate my skills and my curves and my features that make me myself.

I’m far from what I want to be and there are so many things I’m looking forward to working on this year — I’m just saying it’s not one “resolution.” 😉

Here are a few things up my sleeve…

  • Creative work! I’m going to try to do a lot more writing and design. I’m going to have a big surprise project done by the time of Coachella!
  • Health. Cliché yes, but I’m going to get back in shape focusing more on my health than that ideal figure.
  • Organization. I’m a pretty organized person but for fuck’s sake I can never finish a damn planner and get things written in stone so I end up forgetting things.
  • Patience. As a deeply passionate person, let me tell you sometimes we are so blinded by our strong will and feelings that we lose our patience.
  • READ. Oh my god, I need to read more books. My professor told me before that to become a better writer, you need to become a better reader. Let me holla at some works from fellow Asian American writers!

P.S. Change never comes from being comfortable.

America Hates Me

It’s November 9, 2016 and when I woke up this morning, I realized America hated me. I am an American. I was born in San Francisco on a crisp fall day. My parents are both immigrants who came to this country looking for opportunity, hope, and a better future. The way that we read about foreigners coming to America in books and movies, it sounds like a country with open arms and ample work and cash and prosperity.

Years before I was born, my mother was walking through the Tenderloin back to her apartment. When she walked by a man, he spat at her and said, “Go back to China, bitch.”

I realized now nothing has changed.

I am so utterly disgusted that a majority of America has chosen a sexist, racist, pompous, ignorant, disrespectful old rich white man to be our leader. To represent us. I thought it would be impossible, but I guess I’ve been hiding in my safe, accepting, and loving bubble of California, completely unaware to what was happening in other parts of America.

Presidential Election Results by State- Source: NY Times

It hurts to know that most of my country, especially Middle America, believes what he believes — that people of color should be shunned. That there should be a wall separating us. That we should be sent away. That we are unequal. That it is okay to grab women. To abuse them. To objectify them. To be denied rights of our own bodies.

America hates me, and I didn’t realize how much it did until now.

I feel so betrayed by my home, my country.

I always knew we lived in a society with hatred institutionalized in our core, but I thought we had progressed so much over time. The worst part of it is, it’s not all Trump’s fault. He does not create the hate, the fear, and bigotry, but it existed within America and he brought it out. I see now the face of America, which was not the America I knew yesterday. Not “my America”.

America hates me.

Marginalized groups, it is more important now more than ever that we band together in solidarity and support one another.

Originally published on my Medium page.