#CityDisneyStyle: Rock The Dots!

Disney Style, Style

dsc08653Happy National Polka Dot Day!  And say hello to the first #citydisneystyle post!🙌🏼  If you follow me on instagram, then you already know that this series is an idea I’ve been toying around with for the past month.  After getting all your great feedback, I’m finally pulling the trigger!

I hope that each month I can tell you more about how to put together a Disney Style outfit that suits your city life.  Instead of following one format, I’ve decided to focus on one topic each month. I’m planning to write up step by step guides, how to style one item multiple ways, and hopefully showing you how to easily transition at-home Disney loungewear clothes into a pulled-together errand outfit!🏃🏻‍♀️

This month, I decided to provide three tips on how to wear one of the most timeless prints around — Minnie polka dots!🔴⚪️⚫️🔴⚪️⚫️

dsc08665Tip 1: Choose interesting basics to pair with your dots.

I love a good pattern mix, but for easy city dressing, I usually pair a pattern or print back to interesting basics.  What do I mean by interesting basics?🤔 It sounds like such a contradiction, Alisa. Well, I’m talking about basic pieces with an unexpected point of interest.  Basics with an intriguing detail that makes them NOT so basic.

Notice in this outfit, that the points of interest in my black coat are the longer streamlined silhouette, slim collars, and distinct pocket details.  For my bag, the mixed metal buckle feels unexpected. And blue tinted aviators actually pick up on the blue in Donald’s hat. These kind of small details help to elevate your basics from literal “basic clothes” to stylish staples that stand the test of time.

dsc08659Tip 2: Mix different styles into your outfit.

Mixing different styles is something I often think about when putting together a #citydisneystyle outfit.  As much as I prefer to have a predictable life and schedule🙄, I try to go for an unexpected mix in my outfits.  And when it comes to styling Disney pieces, mixing fun and bright with more refined items easily transforms Disney clothes into city clothes.

Since I based this outfit on my flouncy Cath Kidston dot skirt, I decided to pair it with more structured items to get that nice mix of feminine and sleek.  Again, my black jacket instantly adds polish with its sharp silhouette and my earrings are minimalistic and streamlined. Both give a nice contrast to a flowy skirt and that contrast is what taps into that “je ne sais quoi” cool city girl mood.

dsc08697.jpgTip 3: Tuck it in!

It’s such a simple styling “hack,” but it has so much pay off.  For skirts or pants that sit at your waist, try to tuck in your top.  Not only does it help keep the shape of your outfit, but doing a French or half tuck will also help you channel that cool Parisian city vibe.  I mean, it’s called a French tuck for a reason!👩🏻‍🎨  Tucking your shirt in ever so slightly will instantly read as effortless and more polished.

Minnie dots are such a playful and timeless print to wear and I hope these three tips will help you wear them with confidence around the city!  Minnie may be girlie and sweet, but she’s also strong and independent. So to style an outfit that speaks to different sides of Minnie’s character was fun and meaningful for me.  And to share this outfit and these tips on National Polka Dot Day is just the icing on the cake!🎂

How do you like to wear your Minnie dots?  Let me know here or over on instagram!

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These Paintings Are My Everything: Highlighting Women of Color & Female Empowerment at the Asian Art Museum

Musings, Spotlight, Style

asian art museum san francisco mithila painting feminismThe Asian Art Museum is devoted to connecting art to life.  And with their latest exhibit, Painting Is My Everything: Art from India’s Mithila Regionart and life collide to highlight the strength, power, vulnerability, and resilience of Mithila artists — who, of course, happen to be…MOSTLY WOMEN!  As an exhibit that features women of color, I was ecstatic to partner with the Asian Art Museum to further accentuate the brilliant work and lives of these amazing artists.

3110-2018-0228431696152443144227This domestic art tradition, that has been passed down from mother to daughter for generations, was confined to the interior walls of the most intimate rooms in Mithila.  Word of these intricate murals spread beyond the region and during a severe drought in 1966, Pupul Jayakar, a director of the All India Handicrafts Board, saw an opportunity.    She arranged for women to learn how to paint on paper, enabling those women to sell their own work and gain economic independence — something many women from this region had never experienced.  Jayakar’s plan not only empowered village women, but ultimately sparked the economic resurgence of the region.  Moreover, the newfound artistic and financial success of these artists inherently breaks the boundaries of gender and caste norms.

On the other side of the world, we’ve seen a surge of female empowerment apparel in fast fashion.  Consumers can now physically show their support for gender equality every day while feeling cute and fashionable.💁🏻‍♀️  To emphasize the powerful and unique stories of these female Mithila artists and the subjects of their paintings, I’ve styled female empowerment pieces that coordinate with the exhibit’s colorful and feministically charged paintings.  From almighty deities, to the emotional life stories of the artists, Painting Is My Everything, showcases a myriad of female stories and perspectives that celebrate the resilience and strength of women.

Asian Art Museum Mithila painting feminism Target Vital Voices

Hindi deity Kali, is a fierce mother goddess and represents the force that controls time and divine wisdom that ends all illusion. She is the personification of creative and destructive powers of time and could be interpreted as a representation of women’s assertiveness and power.

One company that recently created feminist apparel in collaboration with Vital Voices is Target.  And in line with the collection’s raison d’etre, Vital Voices “supports fearless women leaders around the world to amplify their voices and increase their impact in their pursuit of economic empowerment, public and political leadership, and the protection of all human rights.”  Each design was created to celebrate the passion, strength, and undeniable power of women.

Asian Art Museum Mithila Painting Target Vital Voices

Artist Mahasundari Devi depicts children painting on sheets of paper instead of on walls, suggesting the shift to personable salable art.

Aside from the power of economic independence, Mithila artists also found power in using painting as a means for personal storytelling and reflection. The artist’s personal perspectives and life experiences often serve as the subjects for their work, which allows their stories to be heard and validated. Through painting, their voices became important narratives rather than being easily dismissed.
Asian Art Museum Mithila Painting Shanilee Kumari Target Vital Voices

Shalinee Kumari pays tribute to the “great goddess” Devi and celebrates women through her use of composition and symbolism.  Here, Devi is shown holding various objects, which are usually associated with other deities. Wielding these various objects conveys Devi’s immense and numerous powers and is position as a mighty goddess that embodies the power of women.

One artist whose paintings are greatly influenced by personal perspective is Shalinee Kumari.  Originally studying geography, Kumari decided to start painting after discovering colorful Madhubani paintings. When she headed to women’s college, she heard about the Mithila Art Institute and applied to be admitted into the program. She is now one of the young female artists who is pushing the boundaries of Mithila painting by using the centuries-old style for personal self-expression.  Her work often focuses on global, personal, and community topics such as climate change, terrorism, and gender equality.

In Daughters are for Others, Kumari comments on social roles of Indian women as daughters, wives, and daughters-in-law. The painting’s title evokes the perspective of the girl’s parents and hints at the emotions of loss and resignation. The tight arrangement of the yellow and orange footprints, which reference the Hindu marriage rite of circumambulation of the sacred fire, feels like an impenetrable wall and creates a domestic space. Confined inside the space are two women whose conjoined form recall images of powerful goddesses. Though the true meaning may not be entirely known, Kumari cleverly combines decorative qualities and serious content to create a tension that makes this painting impactful.

Asian Art Museum Mithila Painting

Devi makes use of a style that was traditionally employed only by members of her caste. It is distinctive for its linear bands filled with dots and for its paper that is coated with an auspicious cow dung wash that recalls a mud wall.

One of the most educated and continually innovative artists among the lower-caste Dusadh community (aka “untouchables”), is Shanti Devi.  Many of her works depict everyday subjects, but she beautifully injects them with new meaning.  In Pregnant Cow, Devi surrounds the cow with blooming flowers, sprouting buds, and multiple bees to convey nature’s bounty and fertility.  In her intention to depict a common subject, Devi has instead instilled powerful meaning into it.

Asian Art Museum Mithila Painting Phenomenal Woman Target Vital Voices

In 1976, Devi traveled to Washington DC to participate in the Smithsonian’s annual Festival of American Folklife.  She subsequently created several paintings that document her experiences through personalizing and transforming iconic monuments such as the Capitol Building, Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, and Arlington National Cemetery.

Sita Devi is perhaps one of the most phenomenal women amongst Mithila artists.  She was one of the earliest village artists to paint on paper and her work immediately attracted attention in the 60s. Her paintings received government and private commissions, won national awards, and warranted solo exhibitions.  All of which brought wide-spread attention to Mithila paintings and paved the way for other Mithila artists.  Over the course of her life, she worked tirelessly to develop and uplift her village and community through education and economic empowerment.  She paved the way for many, if not all, the amazing artists featured in this exhibit.

Asian Art Museum Mithila painting female empowerment

Reflective of Bihar’s electoral landscape, female supporters are shown at the bottom of the painting.  In recent elections, women have turned out the vote and are thereby influencing policy changes in the state.  In this painting, Devi shows the powerful influence of the female vote in India.

Dulari Devi is another artist that lived in extreme poverty until she became an accomplished painter.  She worked menial jobs, but her unhappiness with her life began to change when she started to visualize everyday occurrences as paintings.  And with a with a stroke of good fortune, Devi began working in the house of a Mithila artist who would host artist trainings.  Fascinated by the paintings, Devi eventually asked if she too could be trained to paint and thus was the beginning of her new life.  And when strong women unite, the possibilities are extraordinary and endless.

Asian Art Museum Mithila Painting

Baccha Dai Devi’s The Hindi deity Shiva in half-male, half female form, Ardhanarishvara is the combined form of Shiva and Parvati. The right half shows Shiva in his male form and the left represents the female aspect, Parvati.  Ardhanarishvara represents the combination of masculine and female energies of the universe and the unity of opposites. And despite being opposites, the two are inseparable.

The sheer desire to create saleable paintings in and of itself is a powerful act of independence for many of these Mithila artists.  Many were living in extreme poverty and had little to no control over their own lives, so wanting to produce art is a defiant act against strong gender and caste norms.  And whether Mithila artists are painting otherwordly deities or day-to-day life, painting has given them opportunity, choice, freedome; painting has given them everything.  And I felt so honored to help tell their stories and be inspired by their pieces.  It was everything. 😉

Painting Is My Everything will be on display at the Asian Art Museum through December 30, 2018.  For more information about the exhibit and upcoming exhibit events, visit AsianArt.org.

Asian Art Museum Shanilee Kumari

Artist Shalinee Kumari is second from the right wearing a yellow dress standing in front her painting, “Daughters Are For Others.”

Female empowerment shirts partially provided by:
Kidd Bell & Inkcourage

Photographed by:
Colleen Lem

 

There is a place in New Orleans – AHS Coven Tour

Musings, Spotlight, Travel
New Orleans walking tour american horror story coven LaLaurie Mansion American Horror Story Coven Witch

Who’s the baddest witch in town?

New Orleans.  Food, jazz music, Mardi Gras celebrations…but I came for the AHS filming locations.😆  American Horror Story: Coven, the third season from the American Horror Story franchise, was actually the first season I ever watched.  I remember seeing commercials for season one and definitely thought it was way too scary for me.  But when commercials for Season 3 started airing, I was strangely drawn to it.  Some AHS fans felt season 3 was too “housewife-y,” but I honestly thought it was great to see a story focused around women and their relationships with each other within the “horror” genre.  I especially loved the show’s focus on the temperamental mother-daughter relationship.  And THANK GOODNESS we also get to see how race, class, and age play a role in those relationships. Like…yes, Ryan Murphy, YES.👏🏼

After doing some research, I found a gem of a walking tour — the unofficial American Horror Story Tour.  Mostly in the French Quarter, the tour is the perfect mix of AHS fandom and historical facts.  Bea, the tour guide, is also just amazing.  She is super knowledgeable about what parts of the show are based on New Orleans history and what parts were embellished or fictional.  And to my surprise, she knew those prime instagram spots AND was willing to help us stop to take photos.  What more could you ask for?! Thank you, Bea!!

New Orleans French Quarter LaLaurie mansionOur first stop was the LaLaurie house.  Not only infamous for being the residence of Madame LaLaurie in the show, but a bonafide haunted mansion and the site of LaLaurie’s torture “chamber.”  In Coven, we are slowly introduced to Madame LaLaurie’s fascination with blood and the human body.  She was filled with “childlike curiosity.”  And that was not a far departure from the truth.  Bea explained how Madame LaLaurie was accused of over-punishing her slaves, but since she had friends that were city officials, she was able to escape any serious charges.  But one time, the evidence was undeniable.

While hosting a party, the kitchen, which was in a separate back annex of the house, caught fire.  After rescuers extinguished the fire, they found a 70-year-old woman chained to the stove.  She later revealed that she started the fire to escape Madame LaLaurie’s torture and then led authorities to the attic where other slaves were imprisoned and tortured.  The evidence and testimonials were overwhelming.  So much so that her and her husband fled New Orleans shortly afterwards.  However, in Coven, the family’s disappearance is due to Marie Laveau’s revenge against LaLaurie. Below is the green iron gate where Madame LaLaurie and Marie Laveau first meet and Laveau’s plan for retaliation is set into motion.  In the show, it is shown as the front gate to the LaLaurie house, but is actually part of the neighboring building.

American Horror Story Coven LaLaurie Laveau Voodoo Kathy Bates Angela Bassett

New Orleans French Quarter American Horror Story Coven Witch

Even though the two women never met IRL, they lived within walking distance of each other in the French Quarter.  Marie Laveau, aka the Voodoo Queen, was renowned in New Orleans and obviously was included as a character in Coven.  She was the first practitioner to popularize Louisiana voodoo.  And honestly, learning more about Marie Laveau was probably my favorite part about this tour.  In the show, Marie is almost positioned as a villain against not only the Coven’s Supreme, but also Madame LaLaurie.  Both white women.  But hearing about Laveau’s real story, I was amazed to learn that not only was she a healer in the community, but she was also devilishly smart.

Accurately shown in AHS, Laveau was a hairdresser.  And she would occasionally offer her healing “powers” to clients.  Afterwards, she would simply tell clients to pay what they felt her help was worth.  She knew satisfied patrons would usually overpay because they were so grateful for her services.  Slightly Godfather-ish, but so admirable for a woman of that time to be so business savvy.  And though it’s not thoroughly shown in the series, we do see glimpses of Laveau’s business acumen.

When Laveau had daughters, she would give them her name, Marie Laveau, with different middle names.  The daughters looked just like their mother, so when the daughters were out, Laveau ensured that they were in different parts of town.  When townspeople asked who they were, the daughters of course replied “Marie Laveau.”  Baffled, people began to believe that Marie Laveau was actually getting younger!  And since Laveau and her daughters were never in the same place at the same time, no one knew otherwise.  This urban myth is also written into the show as LaLaurie and the Supreme meet Laveau in the hopes of obtaining her secret to “everlasting life.”

For Marie Laveau to build such a reputation during that time in history is impressive and inspiring.  Complete #girlboss behavior.  Granted she benefited greatly from the Code Noir, Marie Laveau found a way to make herself a legend.  If I ever have to answer that icebreaker question about the one person I’d like to meet or have dinner with, Laveau would definitely be at the top of my list.

New Orleans Saint Louis cemetery Marie Laveau American Horror Story Coven

Saint Louis Cemetery

Our walking tour also took us to the Saint Louis Cemetary.  Not only the site of Nicolas Cage’s semi-outrageous pyramid-shaped tomb, it is also home to Laveua’s tomb.  Upon visiting her tomb, it’s evident how influential Laveau was.  To this day, people still visit her tomb to make a wish.  If the wish was granted, they revisit her grave and mark a triple X as proof.  And if you see a lonely hair-tie or bobby pins, do not take them.  Those are gifts left for the hairdresser, Laveau.

Our last stop was the street where the infamous witch’s walk takes place.  It definitely didn’t feel as eerie as it seemed on the show since there were tons of tourists and cars around, but I made the most of it and strutted my witchy self up and down the sidewalk a couple of times.  And now I understand why all the girls of Miss Robichaux’s Academy For Exceptional Young Ladies complained so much about the heat.  Yeah, it’s hot and humid, but wearing an all black and mostly covered ensemble IN the heat is an entirely different story.

New Orleans French Quarter walking tour American Horror Story Coven Witches walk

If you haven’t watched AHS: Coven, please set up a fort in your house and watch it ASAP.  I personally love that it’s rooted in New Orleans history and shows the relationships, successes, and struggles of powerful women and women of color.  It is a treasure trove for exploring the intersecting identities of women.  And if you ever find yourself in New Orleans, please book this tour!  You get to learn more about one of the most kickass women in New Orleans history and grab yourself a few insta worthy shots…there’s really nothing to say “no” to here, ladies and gents.😏

ABW

Growing Up Asian American

Musings

epcot disneyworld growing up asian american

For the conclusion of Asian Pacific American Heritage month, I thought I’d participate in an “Growing Up Asian American” tag.  I also feel guilty that I didn’t do more posts dedicated to this month, so hopefully this can help make up for it.😁

1. Which ethnicity are you?

100% Chinese 🤗

2. Which generation are you?

I consider myself to be a 3rd generation Chinese American, but I think according to the Webster dictionary, I’m 2nd generation.  My grandparents immigrated to the U.S. when they were young, and in fact, my great grandfather on my dad’s side was working in the U.S. and would occasionally return to China.  While in California, he found a suitable husband for my grandmother to marry.  And so my grandmother then immigrated to the U.S. essentially as a “picture bride.”  On my mother’s side, my grandparents were married and had their first child in China.  Soon after my uncle was born, they immigrated to California.

3. What is the first experience where you felt that demarcation of being a minority/different?

It’s hard to say because when using the words “minority” and “different,” this question seems to imply that learning I was Asian American was a bad experience.  But between growing up in San Francisco, which has a huge Asian American community, and my parents who were actively engaged in Asian American community organizations, knowing that I was Asian American was something to be proud of and something I learned at an early age.  Especially around Lunar New Year because I could brag about how the huge televised SF Chinese New Year Parade was an event that honored my culture.  Plus…red envelopes!😆

But it’s hard for me to pinpoint what exact experience made me realize I was a minority.  And even if I did realize that being Asian American meant I was different, being around a large community of Asian Americans reassured me that it wasn’t wrong to be one.  In grammar school (K-8th grade), the popular girls were Asian, the MVPs of our female sports teams were Asian, the girls most of the boys liked…were Asian.  I owned a hoodie that said “Generasian” on it and practically wore it everywhere I went when I was a tween.

From a young age, my parents made it a point to teach us about our ethnicity and culture and to expose us to the community.  An experience that I think is unique to cities and areas that have a dense Asian American population.

4. Were you always proud of your heritage or was there a time you rejected it?

The time in my life that I regretfully rejected being Chinese American was in high school.  To this day, I feel like I am still fighting to win back that Asian American confidence I once had in grammar school.

And maybe this pertains to the previous question, but I distinctly remember one day in high school when I was trying to get my books out of my locker.  I was in a rush because I gave a presentation in my previous class in which I had to dress up as a jazz singer.  Trying not to be tardy, I had to quickly change my clothes and head to my next class.  When I got to my locker, the guy who owned the locker above mine, was leaning against them and therefore blocking my way.  Instead of stepping to the side, he just ignored me.  And this wasn’t the beginning of the year; he knew I had the locker below his.

I finally spoke up and asked him to move.  He scoffed, turned to his friend, and said something to the effect of “She thinks she’s a Chinese princess over here.”  And those words don’t seem scarring, but for some reason, they stuck with me.  Why is it that all of the sudden I’m a demanding Chinese princess for speaking up?  But as someone who is also a major introvert, I don’t like to cause a commotion (in public at least😅).  And if speaking up prompts that kind of response, then maybe it’s better if I just held my tongue.

So throughout highschool, I tried my best to not come off as “too Asian.”  And granted there’s probably more to unpack in that one experience (me being female, him being male, him trying to be cool, me being stressed, him being a Sophomore, me being a Junior), but the overall tone of this interaction was racial.

5. What are some stereotypes that you struggle with?

Because I’m Asian American, many people assume that I’m smart and quiet.  Both which feed into the model minority stereotype – which is a larger, more general stereotype about Asian Americans.  And I agree, there are many Asian and Asian American families that have been extremely successful.  My family is probably even considered successful.  We’ve had the privilege of not having to worry about money, living in a house we owned, being able to work free of disabilities, and having English be our first language.  But there are also so many families that experience economic struggles, domestic violence, and immigration issues.  And they’re often overlooked because so many people believe the model minority stereotype.

But I like to think I have my smart days.  Ask my boyfriend about the countless million dollar ideas I’ve pitched to him.😂  And in school, I did manage to get some good grades and took a few honors and AP classes.  But don’t be fooled because I had to get good grades in those classes to offset the ones I failed in.🙈

And in general, I’m pretty quiet and keep to myself.  But that’s because I’m an introvert.  As a child, I was probably taught to be quiet rather than loud because that’s the respectable thing to be in Asian cultures, but if I was an extrovert at heart, I would probably be more outspoken.

But as an Asian American female, the expectation that I’m to be quiet and submissive is compounded.  There have been multiple times in my life where a stranger would try to dominate the situation because they figured I’d roll over and they could get away with being overly mean.  But be warned, I have held my own in a few instances!  Asian American females are also often hypersexualized.  Luckily I’ve never had to deal with those kind of encounters, but unfortunately, many Asian American females do.

6. Can you speak your language?

Sadly, no.  I can order a chicken bun and know a few baby words (milk, bad, “don’t pick your nose” is a handy one), but that’s the extent of my Cantonese.  Don’t even ask me about mandarin. >.<

7. How has being Asian American affected your relationship with your parents?

Since my parents are American-born, they were better equipped to navigate my “American” upbringing compared to my immigrant grandparents raising them.  And as I mentioned earlier, teaching us about being Asian American, and to be proud of it, was something they prioritized.   My mom made us watch Flower Drum Song, one of the first movies to feature a predominantly Asian cast.  For the release of Mulan, my family coordinated with my friend’s family, who was also Asian American, so both our families could see it together and celebrate Disney’s first animated Asian heroine.  They would even bring us along to events hosted by those Asian American non-profit orgs so we could meet their colleagues – aka social justice advocates, like themselves.  In fact, my parents’ involvement in Asian American non-profit community organizations is what inspired me to take Asian American studies and Sociology classes focused on non-profit orgs in college.

8. How do you feel about your heritage now? Do you identify with it?

Yes, I am grateful to be Asian American and identify as being Asian American.  But occasionally, I also feel hesitant to fully claim it because there is a myriad of Asian American experiences that many have experienced, but I haven’t.  I never knew what it was like to have to translate English for my parents.  I never had to feel ashamed of my “weird” Asian food at school because I was usually signed up for the school provided lunches.  I did have classmates pull their eyelids to the side and make funny faces at me and my friends, but my teachers knew to immediately educate them on why it wasn’t appropriate.  And I won’t get into being Asian v. Asian American.

9. What is your favorite thing about being Asian American/your heritage?

I think being an Asian American female gives me a unique perspective on the world.  It enables me to provide a different POV to others and hopefully encourages them to share theirs as well.

I’m also proud of the leaders in the community that fight for the social injustices that affects the Asian American community.  And I’m especially proud of those who try to further Asian American representation with more diverse and dynamic stories.  Asian American representation is something I value and the reason I started this shindig in the first place!

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If you’ve made it through this whole post, thank you so much for lending me your eeaaarrr…eye!😉  I hope telling you my story encourages you to tell yours!  And even though APAHM is coming to a close, we can still ask each other these questions and talk about our shared experiences year-round!  The more we tell our stories, the more we can learn from one another and grow together.

ABW

Rockin’ the Dots for Minnie’s Walk of Fame Star

Disney Style, Musings, Style

January is always a great month for me because…

1. BIRTHDAY MONTH! and

2. It’s a month devoted to Minnie and rockin’ the dots!

paradise pier california adventure disneyland rock the dots minnie mouse disney styledress: Realisation Par, jacket: Zara, purse: Coach, shoes: Converse

But this is post is going to be about Minnie (and some Minnie inspired outfits), not my birthday shenannigans. 😉  In fact, Minnie had a “facebook worthy” life event when she received her star on the walk of fame earlier this month!  And honestly, it’s about time!

disneyland california adventure disney style mickey mouse minnie paradise pier

Mickey got his star back in 1978, but Minnie was only nominated for her own star just a few years ago. And in the wake of the #TimesUp movement, I’m sure the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce felt pressure and saw the perfect opportunity to show support.  More about how Minnie had to wait 40 years before getting her star here!

california adventure paradise pier mouseketeer disney style minnie mouse mickey

And I’ll be honest, I tend to choose Mickey over Minnie; especially when it comes to merch and disney fashion.  And that’s usually because I find Minnie to be a little too girly for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got love for Minnie and everything she’s done.  But when it comes to girly, I’ve mentioned in previous posts how I tend to shy away from it.  When you’re a short asian and look “doll-like” in girly clothes, people tend to treat you more like a child rather than an adult.

paradise pier california adventure minnie mouse disney style mickeyjeans: Siwy, purse: Danielle Nicole, shirt: Harajuku, tank: LF, sunglasses: QUAY

Should I let the way others treat me deter me from wearing girly clothes? Absolutely not.  But the other part of wearing less girly clothes is to limit the amount of defense I have play.  If I encounter someone who starts treating me like a child, all of the sudden I have to make my case on why they should treat me like, I don’t know, a grown adult?!  Yes, I have a major sweet tooth, hate going to sleep when I’m told to, and I like Disney.  But that means I’m a child at heart, not an actual child.

paradise pier california adventure minnie mouse siwy denim mickey fun wheel disney style

But let’s get back to Minnie.  I’m so glad Minnie finally got her star!⭐️  It was long overdue and just highlights how far behind we were in recognizing the gender disparity between Minnie and Mickey.  So instead of just rockin’ the dots only in January, I’m going to try to let Minnie inspire more of my Disney outfits.  Because the only thing better than representing this iconic fashionista is to shock strangers that dare treat me like a child.

ABW

california adventure paradise pier minnie style mickey mouse disney style

Shanghai Disneyland – Experience

Musings, Travel

DSC07558

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

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

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

San Francisco Women’s March

Musings, Style
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Go get yourself a copy of Bad Girls Throughout History STAT.

Around this time last year, I was in Hawaii frolicking around Aulani Disney Resort with close friends.  We were enjoying a nice meal and of course started talking about the potential election candidates.  I remember I started to cry because it was just unfathomable to me that people were even considering Trump.  After feeling defeated for the past few months, I knew that it was imperative, now more than ever, to do what I could to show my support.* Support for women and feminists.  Support for POC.  Support for LGBTQIA.  Support for choice. Support for the underserved.  Support for the underrepresented.

I’m not usually a rally kind of person.  The introvert in me always tries to figure out if there’s anything that I could do within my four cozy walls to use my voice instead of having to venture to the outside world.  Sometimes I think I’m a cold-blooded reptile since I get so cold so easily outside.  But today was quite the exception.  Earlier in the week I decided to attend the San Francisco Women’s March and meet up with some old co-workers from my non-profit days. Backstory: We all worked together at a non-profit Chinese American Historical museum in Chinatown (check it ➡️ CHSA).  I probably still would have gone to the march, but knowing that I was going to meet up with these amazing women made me that much more excited.  One of them even printed and laminated these perfect Leia rebellion posters.  I, of course, had to sport my “Rebel” Star Wars cap. 👌

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Poster design from Ladies Who Design.  Download it for free and donate to designer Hayley Gilmore!

I actually had to run off for my family’s Chinese New Year’s dinner that evening, so I really only got to stay for the speeches and saw bits of the march on my way out.  A great lineup of speakers and performers, but I choked up the most listening to San Francisco supervisor, Jane Kim.

“My name is Jane Kim…and I am a nasty woman.” ✊🏿✊🏾✊🏽✊🏼✊🏻   

She went on to explain how she hired an all female, all mothers, WOC legislative team at City Hall and how they’re “getting the job done!”  Are you crying tears of empowerment yet?  And then when she talked about how San Francisco is one of the cities pioneering for social change, I just couldn’t hold it in.  It makes me so proud to be a San Franciscan.

“We have a legacy of being bold.  We were one of the first cities to marry gay couples.  We are one of the first cities to provide single parent universal healthcare.  We are the first city to bring minimum wage to $15 an hour – and most of those workers are women. So let’s march.” – Jane Kim

img_1892My eggs, my choice.🍳🍳🍳 I like them over easy.😜

As mentioned, I pretty much had to make my way over to Chinatown after the speeches, but did get a chance to snap a few photos of the parade and some fun signs.  Apologizing now for the poor photo quality.  It was pretty gloomy.  And by the time the march started, it was raining and dark.  I’m sure the earth was upset that Trump and most, if not all, of his cabinet doesn’t believe in climate change. 😑

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Of course the city showed its support in lighting up City Hall with pink lights.  But I’m sure it’ll change back to blue and gold once the Warriors play again.  I’ll just have to be my own reminder to make my voice heard and support those who need it most.  And I urge you to help us fight.  Rebel against normalizing patriarchy, sexism, racism, homophobia, classism, ableism, and bullying.  Rebel against believing that you have no voice.  Rebel against silence.  And for everything that you’ve done so far, thank you. 💗

ABW

OOTD/N:womens-marchRebel hat, Mulan pin: Disney, Glasses: Warby Parker, Girls flag pin: Tuesday Bassen, Egg socks: ikspiari (Japan), Leather jacket: LF, Black skinny jeans: Sears

*UPDATE: I just realized that I did not point out the privilege I have for not feeling the need to go out and march until now.  More specifically, I did not participate in any Black Lives Matter marches or events. That just speaks to the privilege I hold. I was always an ally, re-posting and reading what I could.  But I never felt the need to march.  I never felt in danger because of my race or the language I speak.  I haven’t felt too threatened up until now.  Even though I am a POC, I am not as much a target as, for example, a black male.  And I just wanted to take this opportunity to acknowledge that.

Dinner & a Movie: Hidden Figures

Dinner & a Movie, Food, Musings, Travel
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When I’m hungry and you tell me we’re going out for dinner…(photo from Soul Culture)

Obviously you know what movie I saw, so we’ll circle back to that in a moment. I promise no spoilers!  First, let’s talk about food.

Last weekend I got to visit my sister for my birthday.  She’s about 2,400 miles away from San Francisco – and traveling that far can make a girl hungry. Yup, we flew to Honolulu, HI.  And whenever my mom and I visit my sister, we usually do a lot of eating and try a good handful of new places.  This time, we ate at Piggy Smalls.
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Opened by the same masterminds behind The Pig & the Lady, I knew Piggy Smalls was going to be fantastic.  Expect unexpected asian fusion combos galore here.  My personal favorite was the hurricane creamed corn.  For those that aren’t familiar with hurricane popcorn, it’s popcorn that has furikake seasoning and japanese rice crackers mixed in.  It’s another name for addictive deliciousness.  So hurricane creamed corn is creamed corn with furikake, rice crackers, and popcorn bits on top.  I’m sure there’s much more cooking involved than just throwing furikake on top, but I’m no chef, so I’m not even going to try to explain to you why this creamed corn was the best creamed corn I ever ate.  Other winners were the Laotian fried chicken and the fish of the day.  And bonus points because the whole place is sprinkled with pig memorabilia.  Please note the small Pua figurine to the far left in the photo below.  Piggy Smalls, it calls me!

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Now on to Hidden Figures.  It was incredible.  I’m sure like many people, I never knew about these amazing WOC.  On the way out, even my sister said, “That’s crazy we never learned about people like that in history classes!”  And she’s right.  We should already know about these incredible women.  But what I love about this movie is that it shows how race, class, gender, and family values play a role in how these women live their lives.  It influences how they approach relationships, navigate the workplace, and ultimately, how they feel about themselves.   In the end, it’s what makes them stronger and smarter.  I also appreciate that the movie wasn’t an outright drama movie.  I’m not a huge fan of watching dramas in theaters since they tend to feel a little tooo heavy.   But Hidden Figures excellently addressed the impact of identity, while still retaining an element of fun and humor.

And with a full pig belly, I still decided to eat some real hurricane popcorn at the theaters.  And reclining seats?!  Yes, please.  I had to celebrate my birthday in style.💁🏻

I think I’d like to make this into a mini-series.  Every month or so, go out for dinner and a movie, then write up my thoughts.  We’ll see how I hold up.  Ok fine, it’s probably an excuse for me to go out for dinner and see a movie once in a while.  Can you blame a girl?! 🙂

ABW

OOTN:dsc05793Dress: Free People, Shirt: Homecoming, Shoes: ZOU XOU, Angry Pig King Logo: Piggy Smalls