Shanghai Disneyland – Experience

Musings, Travel

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Last year, I was able to travel the world with a close friend to visit all of the Disney parks within a year.  The catalyst for this trip was of course the opening of Disney’s newest park, Shanghai Disneyland.  I thought it would be a few years until I was able to visit again, but last month I was lucky enough to travel to Shanghai for work.  And duh, of course I had to make a special trip to the park.🐭

Now that I’ve visited the park twice, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts and experiences.  And hopefully, this will give you some insight before your first or next visit to Shanghai Disneyland!

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Dibs!

You’ve probably heard already, but parkgoers in Shanghai Disneyland are pushy.  But know that it is not meant to be intentionally rude or mean-spirited, it’s just cultural norm.  So be mentally prepared for it.  There are tons of photo spots around the park and instead of forming a neat line, people crowd around in a circle and jump in once the spot is open.  If you’re in line and there’s space in front of you, people behind you look over your shoulder until you move up.  Or even worse, they’ll try to move around you to occupy that space and essentially cut you.  And again, this isn’t because they’re trying to be mean to you.  It’s more a “take it or lose it” mentality.  If you’re taking to long to get your photo, then I’ll go ahead of you.  If you’re not going to move up in line, then I’ll move up.  In a country where resources are sometimes limited, many grow up feeling the need to be more assertive in taking what they want or risk not getting anything at all.

As an avid Disney park-goer, this is a completely different and somewhat intolerable environment.  My advice is to take it in doses.  It’s much more bearable.  Wait in line for a ride and then go find a place to sit while you eat.  After you finally fight the crowd for that photo, head to Tomorrowland to watch the Tron bikes zoom by for a few rounds (the lights are actually mesmerizing).💫🚴🏻  Just break up your day if possible instead constantly battling the crowds for 10 straight hours.

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You’ve been warned.

After a while, you might want to start yelling at the crowds.  But just know that security and cast members are not the most involved when it comes to altercations between guests.  Last year, while waiting in line for Tron, a guy cut past me and my other friend. The rest of his group was not far behind and I could tell what was about to happen.  Fed up with pushy guests all day, I grabbed the rail to prevent his friends from passing.  Of course, the guy was immediately upset and started to yell at me.  I sternly explained that his group needed to go to the back of the line.  Or alternatively he could go ahead, but his friends could not.  It was a single-riders line after all and it didn’t matter if they were altogether – they would be split on the ride anyways.  After a few minutes he pushed me backwards.  And this was a full-palm double handed push.  Luckily, his friends were behind me and actually caught me, but my friend and I were literally stuck in this tangled mess of flailing arms and loud yelling.  This showdown happened within earshot of cast members and they did nothing.  No one rushed over to mediate or to assist.  They literally just stared at us.  Not fun.

However, during this past visit, two women began yelling and thankfully it didn’t take long for cast members to show up.  BUT it still took cast members almost ten minutes to actually resolve the situation.  The Tarzan show actually had to be delayed.  And your girl just wants to watch a half-naked man do some aerial arts, so you can imagine how annoyed I was.  At any other Disney park, cast members would have escorted those ladies out in a flash.  But I think park operations are still learning how to handle guests.  So before getting into an argument with anyone, just know that you could be on your own.

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Spread the love! ❤

On the flip side, most cast members I encountered were helpful and friendly, IF you approach them politely.  Walking up to a cast member acting like they’re the crazy ones for not speaking English, just sets you up for a bitter interaction.  And believe me, I’ve seen that happen before.  Not a pretty sight.  So please don’t be that “ugly American.”  PUH-LEASE.🙏🏻  We have enough people in the world that hate Americans already.  In fact, try proving everyone wrong.  Show them how humble and polite Americans can actually be.💁🏻  And cast members deal with tons of unpleasant guests all day, that they’d probably be more than happy to assist someone that is actually nice to them.

Beauty and the Beast Enchanted Rose Cup Shanghai Disneyland

Do you suppose the sign says “Best Cup Ever” in Chinese?

Traveling in China as a Chinese American is an interesting experience.  Everyone expects that you’re just like them, but you’re really…not.  Most people I encountered in China automatically started talking to me in Mandarin.  As an ABC (American Born Chinese), I grew up speaking English.  And on top of that, my grandparents immigrated from Southern China, which means they and my parents speak Cantonese, not Mandarin.  So even if I did know some Chinese, it would still essentially be a different language.

So when I approached someone at the park, I would actually feel embarrassed for a split second.  They would start talking to me in Mandarin and since I couldn’t respond back I stared at them like a dear in headlights.😓  The worst response I’ve gotten goes back to my Tron incident.  The guy that pushed me yelled “You’re Chinese, why don’t you speak Chinese!” while we were arguing.  The “ugly American” in me yelled back “I’m not Chinese, I’m American!”  But I immediately regretted it.  There’s this sense of identity loss if you don’t speak the native language of whatever ethnicity you are.  Not speaking Chinese for some reason makes me less Chinese.  And to some extent I agree.  I’m not Chinese.  I’m Chinese-American.  And that shouldn’t mean I’ve somehow dishonored or disowned my Chinese roots.  Others, of course, feel differently.  But if you’re an Asian that doesn’t speak Mandarin, just be prepared for lots of people expecting you to know the language and to instead dish out lots of humble apologies in return.

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She’s a girl worth fighting for.

Other than the Pirates of the Caribbean and Tron rides, what I also love about Shanghai Disneyland is how Mulan is much more well-represented around the park.  She has her own spot in the parade, she’s shown in park decor, and is one of the princess stories shown in their storybook attractions.  And in the parade, Mulan is actually wearing her warrior outfit!  Not sure how the parks landed on that, but can we just appreciate the fact that it’s exposing kids to the idea that princesses don’t have to wear dresses?!  It’s also an introduction to non-conforming gender individuals and I’m 💯% on board with that.

But the fact that an Asian Disney character is so well-represented in a Disney park just feels…validating.  Yes, Disney came out with an Asian female led movie, but when she’s barely represented in the parks or in merchandise, it almost feels like Disney was just throwing Asian Americans a bone.  “Here you go, your Asian princess. Now back to our regularly scheduled non-colored princesses.”  We are not a charity case.  I get that Mulan isn’t nearly as popular as other Disney princesses.  I’m a merchandiser, I get that they have sales goals to meet and the safest bets are with white princesses.  But with the new Mulan live-action movie coming out soon, I’m hoping that will change.

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See ya real soon!

So that is my two cents on Shanghai Disneyland so far.  I’m sure my opinion will most likely change as I visit more and as the park matures.  Overall though, I really do like the park and am excited to visit again since I still haven’t actually done all of the attractions.   And maybe by my next visit, I’ll actually know a little more mandarin!

And stayed tuned for another post about Shanghai Disneyland!  I’ll have tips for your solo trip to the park. 🤗

ABW

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A Day At Pixar Studios!

Musings, Travel

screen-shot-2017-07-31-at-11-37-40-pm.pngAaahhhhhhhhh!  Where to even begin?!  For many Disney fans, Pixar Studios is a supplemental, but oh so necessary part of the Disney company and experience.  It’s like adding avocado to your BLT.  Pixar just makes Disney THAT. MUCH. BETTER.  Omg, Pixar is an avocado. No wonder everyone loves it!😆  So when I got the chance to visit the Pixar campus with some friends, I was ecstatic.

DSC07228We visited on a Sunday, which was actually really nice because it was completely empty and quiet.  We could take a million photos with no one in the background! 🤗  An added bonus was the warm weather!  If you ever visited or lived in the Bay Area during the summer, then you know that warm days during the “summer” months are like Pixar easter eggs — you only get them once in a while.😉  Cloudless skies meant I could wear a blue dress for my Guido disneybound without hesitation.  I would’ve worn the dress anyways since Chelsea and I planned on being twinsies together, but great weather just made it that much better.  P.S. Loved Cars 3!  See it if you can!

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Luigi and Guido disneybouds!

Aside from the multiple Pixar statues that greet you at the entrance, there’s also a trophy case filled with all the awards Pixar has won.  Oscar…oscar…beaten up Woody?  In the far corner, a well-loved Woody, all dirty and missing his boot, was set next to a letter from Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.  The cast member explained how a 6 year old boy was given a new Woody doll and rather than throw the old one away, the boy left it at the park’s City Hall so his old Woody could have a great new home and “spend infinity and beyond with Buzz Lightyear.”  I’m sorry, I would go on but it seems I’m on the verge of crying.😩

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Of course, there was tons of concept art throughout the building. When we visited, most of the art was for Finding Dory and Cars 3.  We saw everything from pencil sketches to clay models.  Unfortunately, all of this amazing concept art was in a “no photo” zone, so I don’t have any pictures. Sorry!😭 But trust me when I say, it was so cool to see all the different stages of the animation process.  And I guess Pixar made up for it with huge posters and statues that scream “instagram photo op.”😏

And Pixar being Pixar, they also scattered lots of magic throughout the rest of the property.  Halfway through our visit, I headed for the bathroom.  And when I reached the door, instead of the usual female silhouette logo, I spotted a familiar curvy, mom-bob, above-the-knee boot wearing superhero!  She was incredible.😉  But my favorite surprises were the characters that were embedded into the floors!  So while walking around, you could randomly run into some of your favorite characters!

And of course, the pièce de résistance…Luxo Jr. and the Luxo ball!  Erika slayed it and actually disneybounded as the Luxo ball, but by complete accident, we all ended up wearing similar style dresses all in yellow and blue.😳  And guess what, our separate disneybounds then became a singular one.  We. Were. The Luxo ball.  If that isn’t the definition of serendipty, then I don’t know what else is!

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We are Luxo ball.

I still can’t believe such an amazing company is just across the bridge from me.  A company that not only seeks out talent and creativity, but also encourages personal storytelling, is just so endearing and heartwarming.  And call me a snooty San Francisco native, but I like to think that Pixar employees are often inspired by the Bay Area and somehow weave that into their stories.  Case in point, Inside Out.  Ultimately, I just love the idea that employees of a huge storytelling company that millions of people know, are creating these stories in an area that is tremendously liberal and diverse.  And I like to think that San Francisco’s liberal values make their way into Pixar’s stories; ultimately passing those values along to millions of people.  But that just might be a snooty San Franciscan’s wishful thinking.  But hey, one can dream!😊

ABW

 

Disney Cruise: Aboard the Disney Wonder!

Disney Style, Travel

IMG_3094Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to sea we go!  A few weeks ago, I went on a Disney cruise with a group of friends and we were probably the only group of young adults without children.  I say young group of adults because there were actually older (probably retired) couples that were vacationing without children too.  AKA my life in 30ish years.

“Alisa, aren’t Disney cruises only fun for families and kids?”  On the contrary!  Yes, Disney cruises are aimed towards families, but as we learned, it is first and foremost a cruise.  Which means you still get great food and dining experiences, fun cocktails and drinks, and “adult only” areas.  All of these things just happen to have a little Disney magic sprinkled in.

So how’s a group of young adults supposed to enjoy a Disney cruise?  Well, let’s start with FOOD!

Each night we dined at a different “restaurant.”  The first night we ate at The Animator’s Palate, which honors the history of Disney animation.  You’ll find animation sketches everywhere and what once started as a still black and white drawing will then turn into a full-on colored animation by the end of the night!  Throughout the night, we were excited to keep tabs on the new changes we saw throughout the restaurant.  And to join in on the magic, we all Disney Bounded as Disney animated characters.  Erika and Vince of Village Haus were clever enough to bring a black and white outfit and then a colorful outfit to change into at the end of dinner!  So clever those two.  And spoiler alert (seriously, if you don’t want to know skip ahead now!): Sorcerer Mickey comes out in full force at the end and it was the best part of the dinner.

For our second night, we dined at Tiana’s Place, which obviously serves up tasty southern inspired dishes.  And we all decided to Disney Bound characters from The Princess and the Frog.  I probably ordered 5 courses that night, which was not ideal for my all white Mama Odie Disney Bound outfit.  And if you get a chance, take a lap around the room to see all the small details.  On one wall, there were cabinets filled with photos of Tiana’s parents, her dad’s recipe box, and various frog paraphernalia.  But again, the best part of the night was at the end of the dinner when Tiana and Louis led a fun-filled jazzy dance party!

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Before or after dinner (depending on your scheduled seating time), be sure to catch at least one of the Broadway-style shows!  The first night was “The Golden Mickeys Live Show” in which Golden Mickeys are awarded to different Disney movies.  I assumed the usual characters would make an appearance — princesses, fab 5, maybe even Stitch and other critter characters if Disney was feeling adventurous.  But Disney threw me a massive curveball.  There was one portion of the show that featured Tarzan, Mulan, and are you ready for this…Hunchback of Notre freakin’ Dame!!  I may have cried a little while surrounded by small children that were constantly their parents who that character was that was walking funny.

And I cried not so much because they were some of my favorite movies growing up, but because it was just so great to see them represented in a show!  Quasimodo is NEVER in a show!  Just to see them get their moment in the spotlight and get recognition was somewhat emotional for me.  “Alisa, these aren’t even real people, they’re freaking animated characters.”  I knooowww, but they get validation and credit for being worthy Disney characters for once! 😭  But my tears dried up halfway through the Mulan segment.  Hopefully, more on that in a later post.

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Aside from great dining and entertainment, the Disney Wonder is full of prime instagram spots.  So for all those social media butterflies out there, you’ll love bopping around the boat getting all those cute photos.  For our group of social media enthusiasts, we were on a mission to take the most #basic Disney cruise photos.  And with the help of Taylor Jackson, we got some amazing shots and quite possibly the best basic Disney cruise photo ever.  Check out Taylor’s vlog to see how he captured these amazing photos!

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^The winner of the most basic Disney cruise photo.

Eating + entertainment + cute photo ops = fun for young adults on a Disney cruise!  And of course add a few drinks into the mix for an extra fun time. 😏🍹  But in general, you can always have a good time anywhere and anytime as long as you’re in good company!  And honestly, I think this trip was SO MUCH FUN because of the incredible people I got to experience it with.  Did I mention that I also cried during the last night of our cruise at dinner because I was so thankful for great time we had together and to just be there in that moment with all of them?  Oh, I didn’t? 😅  Well, now you know how grateful I was to be on this fun trip with these extraordinary people. 🤗  Go check them out! –> Leslie, Erika, Lindsay, VinceTaylor

ABW

Spotlight: Keiki Collection

Musings, Spotlight

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Earlier this month, I hopped over to Hawaii to spend some quality time (read: eating time) with my sister and mom.  Over the weekend, we decided to eat at Scratch Kitchen and Meatery.  Before talking about the Keiki Collection, you have to know something.  If you’re ever in the area, you HAVE to try at least one of  the “Pimp My Grits” dishes from Scratch Kitchen.  Just…ugh…so good.  A quick pic and then we’ll move on:IMG_2848

To walk off this amazing, but super heavy grits, we decided to shop around South Shore Market.  Picked up a copy of Alexa Chung’s It and a pair of delicate rose gold heart earrings, but the best pleasant surprise was running into a small pop-up shop from Keiki Collection.  Keiki Collection is a community of kids that learn how to sell their handmade goods.  But we should honestly call them mini #Girlbosses.💁🏿💁🏾💁🏽💁🏻💁🏼  Sidenote: There are young boys in the group too, but none were there that day.

IMG_2852I remember when I was younger, my mom and I would do the same thing.  We’d figure out what kind of crafts we could make to then sell at school holiday craft fairs.  I loved working away making tons of colorful lanyards and decorating hair claws with Christmas tinsel.  It was so fun to be creative and I felt so “official” when we sold them.  And we probably barely broke even each time because everything was pretty much under $5.  But I love that these girls are creating something that they’re proud of and then learning business skills to sell them.  Things you don’t necessarily learn in school these days.

IMG_2865I was most impressed by one girl that made large macrame hanging pot holders.  They were just so impeccably made!  I was so impressed that I ended up buying one even though I don’t really have a place to put it.😅  But it’s a small price to pay to support a young mini girlboss though, right?🤗

We tried our best to buy a little something from each person.  These girls are learning the basics of business and entrepreneurship and that’s just something we had to support.  And Hawaii in general has a pretty diverse population, but can we take a second to recognize that this was also an ethnically diverse group of girls!!  I mean, COME ON!  It’s just so amazing to see young girls of color learning to be entrepreneurs, creatives, and supportive of one another.  It warms my soouuull.💕

IMG_2863If you can, give Keiki Collection a follow on instagram.  They have occasional pop-ups like this one around the island.  Let them know what they’re doing is impressive and important — not only as a young female, but also as a person of color.

ABW

Disneyland Spring Lookbook

Disney Style, Style
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A Disney food adventure. 😉

So as I mentioned in my previous post, my family and I took a quick weekend trip to Disneyland back in early March.  Other than getting the chance to wear all of my Disney clothes, it was also a trip filled with FOOD. DISNEY food.

My sister, specifically, was on a gastronomic mission.  And I wasn’t about to turn down a good Disneyland Resort food crawl.  And it wasn’t just any old park food.  We were on a quest to find the best Disneyland and California Adventure eats.  She was working on a snapchat story for Tastemade, so everything had to be top notch.  My sister being the foodie took these drool-worthy photos. 😛

Top right: Poutine from Red Rose Tavern, Top left: The Grey Stuff from Red Rose Tavern, Bottom: Lobster Nachos from Cove Bar

Now day 1 of our food crawl, I did not make the smart decision and ended up wearing fitted mom jeans that have No. Stretch.  Talk about a food crawl fail.  But I’ve been dying to wear my Zara Mickey pants to the parks.  Definitely had to burp it out a few times during dinner. 😅  Anyways, I paired my Zara jeans with a churro shirt from Lucky Rabbit Supply Co.  And can I say, Mike and Gillian were amazing!  Not only are they based in San Jose (Norcal represent!), but they were kind enough to ensure that I received my shirt in time for this trip.  And they made sure to pack up my purchase and mail it out weeks before their wedding!  They’re just so great.DSC06542

DSC06544Shirt: Lucky Rabbit Supply Co., Jeans: Zara, Mickey Bag (Yes, it’s a bag!): Christopher Raeburn, Shoes: Nike, Sunglasses: Quay 

So day 2, I learned my lesson and wore something loose.  This Lazy Oaf denim dress is pretty much like wearing a huge denim sack.  Complete body freedom, but you still get to look cute. 💁🏻  But I actually had the waist taken in slightly.  I think if my chest was slightly smaller it would’ve hung better as is, but since I’ve got a unique body, I gotta tailor it to what best suits me.  Probably a sentiment that can be applied to life in general, dontcha think? 😊  And there’s your dose of positive life validation for the day! Don’t even think that’s a real term, but let’s just go with it.

DSC06586Dress: Lazy Oaf via Poshmark, Sunglasses: Free People, Shoes: Jeffrey Campbell via LF

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So I think I really need to work on getting these posts written up faster.  I’ve already returned from another Disney trip — a Disney cruise!  But if you follow me on the instas then you’re already up to speed.😉  Hoping I can write up a little something to recap that trip.  Looking through my camera roll, I already know it’ll be similar to this post.  “What I wore and what I ate.”😆

ABW

 

Disneyland Outfit: Lazy Oaf x Disney Minnie Shirt Dress

Disney Style, Style

DSC06471In early March, I made a trip down to the most magical place on earth with my family.  Since it was a quick trip, I decided to pack a whole bunch of Disney clothes rather than plan out a disneybound for each day — especially since I scored two NWT Lazy Oafs x Disney collection dresses on Poshmark just a couple weeks prior. Obsessive searching FTW.🙌🏼 Plus the seller priced it lower than the original retail and offfered a discount on bundle purchases…and you know ya girl loves a discount.😏

I was actually a little on the fence with this Minnie dress because I thought the ruffles would look too girly on me.  But to my surprise, I liked this one more than the Mickey denim dress I also picked up.  And surprise again, it’s actually a little short on me.  I couldn’t raise my arms without something peeking out from underneath me!😅  How is it possible for a dress to be short on a girl who is 5’2″?!?

To prevent the whole outfit from looking too girlie, I accessorized with sleeker items.  No fuss cat eye sunnies, easy crossbody, comfy sneakers, and called it a day.  For that extra pizazz, I stacked a few bracelets and sported red lips. Sidenote: I’ve been loving this NYX matte lip creme in Monte Carlo.💄  Only had to touch up a couple times throughout the whole day!  At Disneyland…where there’s a whole bunch of delicious food and the sun is not forgiving.  Think about that.😳

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DSC06428Dress: Lazy Oaf via Poshmark, Bag: Coach, Shoes: Nike, Sunglasses: Quay, Lips: NYX in Monte Carlo

Overall, this is a perfect spring park outfit because it’s easy, cute, and comfy.  Stay tuned to see the other outfits I put together that are great for a spring trip to the parks!  In the meantime, please enjoy this photo of my mom, sister, and me.😁

ABW

Styling the Beastie: Denim on Denim

Disney Style, Style

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So my whole plan to post different outfits with the Beastie leading up to the release of Beauty and the Beast was pretty much a BUST.  Total failure on my part.  I’ve been sitting on the draft for this post for a month now.😑  But that’s how life goes.  Once in a while, things suddenly get crazy or busy and things like this fall to the wayside.  However, I did see the movie when it was released and will write up a separate post about it soon!

Anyways, last month I took advantage of the crisp spring weather and stopped by the Golden Gate bridge.  If you’re ever visiting San Francisco, I would recommend going to Crissy Fields out by Fort Point.  Bring a picnic blanket, pack a basket full of cheese and wine, and then bike out to the fields.  Hopefully, it’s warm enough that you can sit out, people watch, listen to the ocean waves…and if you’re lucky, encounter some playful pups out with their owners!😉

But I love this outfit for just that kind of outing.  And wearing denim on denim means you can be ready for anything.  Relaxed fit jeans lets you roll around in the grass or hop on a bike with ease.  Bring a denim jacket just in case the bay winds pick up.  Or throw it on the grass if you want to lay out to enjoy those few precious minutes of “hot” sunny weather.  Mules are easy to kick off if you have the sudden urge to dip your toes into the freezing bay water.  And of course, the Beastie is room-y enough to carry that extra roll of sourdough bread.🍞

dsc06350Jeans: Canyon River Blues, Jacket, Shirt: Homecoming Honolulu, Shoes: Zou Xou, Bag: Danielle Nicole, Pin: Disney Style

Hope you’re not getting sick of the Beastie because there’s going to be at least one more post with him.  A movie write up on Beauty and the Beast is just around the corner!

 

Why I Blog: The Effects of Internalized Oppression on Style Choices

Musings

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A close friend of mine posted this story on Facebook yesterday, and it’s one of those things that you’ve thought about before, but never really thought about it.  After reading this story, it just reconfirms why I wanted to start this blog in the first place.  I don’t necessarily wear crazy prints and colors like Lauren Stardust, but that just means I haven’t freed myself from the very thing Lauren is talking about.  My own internalized misogyny (which Lauren describes as an “”involuntary internalization by women of the sexist messages that are present in their societies and culture”) is completely intertwined with my internalized prejudice.  In fact, I would say it might even be stronger than my internalized misogyny.

Again, it just validates the whole reason I started this blog.  It’s no mystery who some of the more famous non-white bloggers are, but for years I’ve felt like they never casually talked about how being a POC influenced their lives – and more specifically style choices, the very thing they’re famous for.  And maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe it doesn’t. But for me, being a POC influences so much of my life. Both good and bad of course. Bad: I try to steer clear of flouncy fit and flare dresses to avoid looking too doll-ish.  As a Chinese American female, “doll-ish” is something I’ve actively avoided my whole adult life in order to be taken seriously.  Good: A lot of times people thing I’m innocent because “hey, I’m a small Asian girl and what harm could I do?” Really plays in my favor whenever I want to be a little mischievous.😈

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Being Asian American…love it and hate the internalized oppression.

Other than giving myself the space to create, I also wanted to use this blog as a platform to talk about how internalized misogyny and prejudice really does affect my style choices and influence how I perceive and navigate the world.  And I really applaud Lauren for being able to confront those internalized oppressions head on.  I have yet to get that far.  But maybe, that journey is about to be written right before your eyes.  Now wouldn’t that be something?😏

ABW