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.

aggretsuko

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.

2015: Pussy Power & Commodity Feminism

Raise Boys and Girls The Same Way

This past year, we saw a substantial rise in the support of gender equality. From students defying to have their bodies dehumanized from archaic dress codes, to defying gender roles in the tech industry, to Target’s daring move to eliminate gender-based signage in stores, there were countless feminist moments in 2015.

In my outfit pictured above, I found a cute vintage-looking scoop neck tee that reads, “Raise Boys and Girls The Same Way.” It has a nostalgic feel to it, reminiscent to the graphic tees that were popular when I was in middle school that read things such as, ”Girls Rule, Boys Drool.”

The slew of clothing and other products centered around positive female messaging has left me both ecstatic and confused. I’m elated that we can unite and support each other’s ideology through fashion and pop culture. But, it also leads me to wonder, why did all this clothing come out recently?

Feminist issues have taken unprecedented popularity in our younger people more recently. It would seem that somewhere in 2014-2015, feminism has become more commodified than ever.

A play on Karl Marx’s commodity fetishism, commodity feminism is the appropriation of feminist ideals in the market place. In this sense, feminism is reduced to products which are packaged and sold. This reaches beyond tee-shirts and cropped tops with feminist messaging, but campaigns such as Dove’s Real Beauty and American Eagle’s Aerie Real. As with any exposure, there is good and bad. It is good that women’s equality has gained so much attention, sparking about change. My personal criticism for most of these campaigns is that the women advertised still very much retain an ideal hourglass shape for the male gaze, large breasts with a small pinched waistline. A little contradictory when we are trying to say that all bodies are good bodies.

As for cropped tops that scream “Pussy Power!” and “Ain’t No Wifey”, I hope that the consumers whom purchase them understand the meaning behind them instead of slapping on things that sound “cool.” 

I own a bomber jacket that reads, “Fight Like A Girl.” An man once asked me, “Shouldn’t that read ‘You Fight Like a Girl?'” 

“Nope!” I answered, “Girls can fight just as good.”

I suppose with any attention there will always be some negative, but exposure brings about awareness, and from awareness there can be change

Outfit:

Top- Brandy Melville

Bottoms- American Apparel