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

 

Yes, It is Wrong to Assume I like K-pop

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Minzy – Source: YouTube

“So you like K-pop.”

“Uh… no? Why?”

“You look like you like K-pop.”

“I do?”

“Yeah. Your hair. And your makeup. You have the K-pop look.”

Yes, it is wrong to assume I like K-pop. Do I actually like K-pop? Sure, why the hell not? I mean, I’m not really a fan but I don’t hate it. I can name about eight songs off the top of my head, and in that limited eight-song-knowledge there are artists I prefer more than others, but that’s beside the point. Saying I like K-pop because of the way I look, is like assuming any person with blonde hair and blue eyes likes country music.

Read the rest on Medium.

The Third Eye & The Mime Who Spoke

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In Buddhism and Hinduism, there is the concept of the third eye. Not to be mistaken for the Eye of Providence, also known as the Illuminati all-seeing eye, the third eye is the idea of an invisible eye that is able to see beyond reality.

Depending on the belief, the third eye represents a state of enlightenment, where one can perceive beyond our reality, perhaps even the supernatural. Although, I admit, enlightenment is not the easiest thing obtain.

I believe it’s important to recognize the concept of this “third eye” in our every day lives. We are so busy living our mundane schedules, it easy to become trapped in our existence. We often fall complacent, decide to settle, accept unhappiness. However, there are moments in our lives that sometimes transcend us beyond our own thoughts. Some are moments that test our emotional strength, some are more common occurrences that may simply lend us another perspective to a situation. We’ve probably all heard the phrase to “step outside yourself” but it’s a lot harder to do than say.

However, if you’re like me, we make problems a lot worse in our heads than they are in reality. We are so stuck in our ways, in the very specific way we may see something, that sometimes we miss a solution that was in front of us the whole time.

So if you’re stuck in a rut, take a deep breath, give yourself some time, and try to think about the situation from another perspective. Human beings are amazingly malleable creatures. We have an almost uncomprehensible ability to survive, to adapt, and in the end, always be okay. ❤️

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I saw this quote on tumblr that I think speaks to seeing things from another perspective… “You are so used to your features, you don’t know how beautiful you look to a stranger.”

Thanks for letting me “enlighten” you with some of my ramblings! Here’s my weekend brunch outfit that I call, “The Mime Who Spoke.”

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Outfit:

Cropped Turtleneck – American Apparel

Cardigan – Abercrombie & Fitch

Pants – American Apparel

Shoes – Express

Chinese New Year Do’s & Don’ts

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My Chinese New Year Outfit Redux. Read more below.

Every year growing up, I knew what time it was when the halls were decked with red and gold and the sound of firecrackers sizzled against the sidewalk. Chinese New Year comes with cheer, traditions, and a strict rule book. This major holiday calls for celebration and honoring of deities and ancestors. During this festival, Chinese families can be particularly meticulous about everything from the way you behave to, the things you touch, even the way you dress. Needless to say, this festival is a really big deal to Chinese communities around the world.

Here are some do’s and don’ts of Chinese New Year. Do you find these traditions strange? Don’t! All cultures have unique traditions.

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Tradition Chinese New Year offerings meal.

Do’s:

  • Eat a ton! This festival includes lots of delicious feasts with families and friends. These Thanksgiving comparable meals include juicy roasted pork, tender chicken, savory Buddha’s delight as well as puddings and cakes.
  • Go home for the holidays. This is a time for people to gather and celebrate together. To make new traditions and celebrate the old. Maybe this isn’t too big of a deal for you personally, but think of how much it means to someone you love.
  • Be happy and wear red. During this time, everyone takes measures to deter ill-fortune and ensure that the new year will bring good luck and prosperity. Basically, bring good vibes. Red symbolizes luck and joy! Youth receive red envelopes that contain money to bring good luck and ward away evil spirits.
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Red envelopes.

Don’ts:

  • Do not wash your hair on New Year’s day. Whip out your dry shampoo, because it is taboo to wash your hair on New Year’s Day. It symbolizes washing out your luck.
  • Get all your cleaning done beforehand. No sweeping or dusting on New Year’s Day! You’ll sweep the luck away.
  • No buying shoes. Even if new Yeezy’s are dropping, no new kicks within the first fifteen days of Chinese New Year. The pronunciation for the word “shoe” in Chinese is similar to the sound of a sigh. Meaning, you would be inviting rough times with lots of sighing.

Now that you’re all read up on what you can or cannot do during Chinese New Year, go ahead and monkey around! It’s 2016– Year of the Monkey!

Keep reading below to find my modern New Year’s inspired outfit.

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I wanted to add a modern spin to a Chinese New Year outfit while still incorporating Chinese prints and lots of red. I paired a light pink Chinese print halter top, with high-waisted curve-hugging pants, classic black boots, and a bright red track jacket. Overall, I wanted to style something festive and feminine yet fierce and fresh.

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I found this light pink Chinese print top, similar to the prints on cheongsams. I really adore it, it’s a beautiful elegant print with a flirty cut. It reminds me a two piece outfit I had as a child. We got it in China when we were on vacation but when we got back to America I was too embarrassed to wear it. I wish I didn’t care as much as I did and wore it anyway, but it was bad enough I didn’t have name-brand jeans as a kid. I could only imagine the stares and sneers I would have received showing up in a traditional getup.

DSC_0377.jpgAs cheongsams have a bodycon shape, I decided to wear hip-hugging bottoms. Since I’m a little shorter with muscular legs, black boots look flattering with high-waisted pants.

DSC_0375You can always count on Adidas Originals on having bold colors and prints. I got this track jacket for less than half the price at a warehouse sale! Keep your eyes peeled as they come by San Francisco every year.

Gong hay fat choy! Do you dress up for holidays?

Outfit:

Jacket- Adidas Originals

Top- Valfre

Bottoms- American Apparel

Shoes- Dr. Marten’s 

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

The Hello Kitty Exhibit & What it means to be Asian

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Hello Kitty is an icon– a symbol, an “artifact” which represents some form of culture.

To me she is adorable, peaceful, cute, delicate, and in a way, malleable. As all symbols, definition may vary but an image stays constant.

She’s been criticized for her lack of mouth—“she can’t talk. She’s just another symbol for the oppressed Asian woman.”

But mouth or not, Hello Kitty sure does a lot of talking—she’s makes about $5 billion dollars yearly.

When I was a little girl, I adored Hello Kitty. She was the big huggable plush whose spotless white fur glowed under an expensive shop light. She was the face on expandable pencil boxes that magically opened up countless compartments with the touch of a button. She was on the smoothest pink gel pens and the fruit scented erasers. Her face beamed from dainty pastel colored tops with ruffled sleeves. But alas, being a first generation daughter from a family trying to make end’s meat in America—those fancy toys were just a distant dream. If it wasn’t found in a McDonald’s happy meal– it wasn’t found in my hands.

It wasn’t until college that I indulged in my Hello Kitty fascination. I wore a Hello Kitty backpack to class,  complete with triangle feline ears and a puffy sequined bow.

“Hey, cute backpack,” a random guy stopped me.

“Thanks,” I said.

“It’s like so Asian.”

“Yeah,” I agreed.

He gave me a puzzled look, “oh you know, I don’t know any girls who like, admit that. Nobody wants to say they’re Asian.”

“Erm… Well, I am Asian.”

“Y-yeah…” He stammered. After a few empty awkward seconds he began to retreat.

My friend laughed when we had taken a few steps away, “that guy was totally bad at hitting on you.”

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To say I was ecstatic when the Japanese American National Museum announced the opening of its special exhibit, “Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty” would be an understatement.

The exhibit opened in October 2014 for her 40th birthday, and caused quite a stir with the whole “she’s not a cat!” controversy. Hello Kitty is 40 years old, a middle-aged kitty now.

I didn’t think I would actually be able to see the exhibit with my own eyes—JANM is in downtown LA and I live in SF. But when my boyfriend and I drove down to Disneyland, I demanded we go.

It was a feast for kawaii-hungry eyes. She was painted everywhere, her image spread across massive walls and her kitten eyes watched you from above. Sparkling pink items shouted from neatly peppered glass cases.

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Under a subtle spotlight, a small plastic coin purse the size of my thumb hung above a stepped pedestal behind a glass case labeled simply, “Coin Purse.”

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The classic Hello Kitty stationary items I admired as a girl were arranged precisely so that each piece called your eyes but the case itself was unified in visually satisfying set.

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It was quite the collection—bags, figurines, a panorama of Hello Kitty plushies through the ages.

My favorite part of the exhibit was the art. A sign called her, “A Muse for Artists” whom inspired many from across the globe with her “Zen-like disposition.

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She was cute, ferocious, demonic, surreal, beautiful, classic or downright ridiculous. Despite being a cartoon cat, she was painted with the elegance of a geisha to the pink patriotism of Old Abe himself.

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Towards the end of the exhibit was the dress that adorned Lady Gaga herself—a plush piece sewn from dozens of stuffed kitties. Stepping into the last room, was stepping into the secrets of the ancient Egyptian pyramids. Darkness clouded the air, rudely cut by beams of beautiful gold emitting from the center of the room. Oh great Pharaoh Kitty towered over our mortal souls, Cleopawtra herself engraved in glimmering gold as she sat upon her sprinkled donut thrown.

After we exited the Hello Kitty exhibit, is where the museum took a stark turn.

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The exit spat us out into the internment camp exhibit. A few seconds ago we were in the super cute world of Hello Kitty, and now we were in a dark history that America tends to forget. It felt like I was Dorothy and after exploring the Land of Oz I was thrown back into sepia toned Kansas. Photographs, video tapes, and momentos documented the stay of families torn away from their homes. A quiet dreary kind of sadness hung in the air, permeated by a calm instrumental folk song.

The eyes that stared at me from those black and white photos looked very much like my own.

“My grandfather was in an internment camp,” my boyfriend said as we looked at photos.

The photos varied, some children were playing while some looked lost. I wondered if at a young age if they knew what was going on. They had done nothing wrong, but were incarcerated for the color of their skin, the shape of their eyes, their native tongue. They were labeled prisoners for a land far, far away.

I stood before a wall built entirely of dark brown, blue and black suitcases. How much of their “homes” could they fit into these? How could you blame them for the actions of an unfamiliar land? Most people come to America for a new life, new opportunities, and a place to call “home.” I know that’s why my family did. But here, these people were denied their home, denied their hopes, and had their dreams deferred. Displaced blame resulted in displaced lives. What happened to their American dream?

Such a problem still exists today. We tend to blame an group of people for the actions of a few individuals. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that not everything is just black and white.

At the exit, a poem shadowed in sunlight called out to me.

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“Community in not just where you live.

Community is also about who you are.

We are on common ground with all Americans,

with all peoples.”

When we were about to leave the museum, we decided to take a picture with a Hello Kitty statue. One of the museum curators, a friendly older Japanese man asked us if we needed help taking a photo.

“Look Asian!” He smiled.

“What?” My boyfriend looked puzzled.

“Like this,” I held up my right hand up in a peace sign and flashed a wide grin.

By then, I had a better idea of what it means to be Asian.

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