When People Say “You Are Pretty For An Asian”

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I don’t think I have ever been told this exactly, but I was interested to write about it after I was sitting in a waiting room. There were voices chattering away – the kind you can’t not hear even when you’re staring off into space. The words wondered into my ears “Her eyes look so Asian though…She looks too Asian in the photo..” and you sort of get the idea.  The idea of saying things a long the lines of “You are pretty for a…” is quite offensive, even though most people who say it mean it as a compliment. This deeply implies racial hierarchy and the idea that Western cultures definition of beauty is what should be attained.

The only time I felt that I had the sentence “You are pretty for an Asian” implied towards me, is when someone may say “Your eyes aren’t as small as most Asians, you look like you are mixed or you seem a little taller than most Asians.”This, again implies that having small eyes, being fully Asian or being short is a bad thing. Which it clearly is not. The emphasis on physical appearances, makes it negative when societies standard of beauty comes into place. Standards of beauty are not realistic when everyone is different. The compliment itself “You are pretty” is fine when it’s well meant, but the comparison on race is not.

I remember over a year ago, I was reading Texan in Tokyo’s blog post which touched on the topic. It places too much value on appearances and it is disrespectful to our culture. Unfortunately, there are some people who do take it as a compliment. In Asia, there are many cases where looking mixed or not looking fully Asian is attractive. There is a desire (not all) for many girls to look more like the Western ideal of beauty. The idea of saying those sort of compliments, creates the thinking that Asian people are unattractive. Beauty should not be categorised into a race.

A compliment is a a polite expression of praise or admiration.

A Few Things That Creative Cookies May Relate To

maxresdefault.jpgIf you’ve ever been in certain environments or had to do certain tasks that drain your creativity, you may understand the need to do something that keeps your creative juices flowing. For many creatives they have often heard the following similar words: “The arts will get you no where… how do you make money doing something creative?” and other phrases that make us feel misunderstood. We see the world in a different way, filled with colours and wonder. Anything is possible in our world and pursuing our passion is what makes our life feel a sense of purpose. Perhaps someone may want to be an artist, writer, musician, fashion designer, craft maker, interior designer, dancer, film director, illustrator, photographer, stylist and the list goes on.

1) You are open to your emotions. Creative people must have some degree of emotions in order to express themselves. I don’t think Chopin would of been able to write his nocturnes if he didn’t have those powerful emotions stirring inside of him, nor do I think Monet could of painted such beautiful paintings without feeling something magical inside. A lot of the things we create are needed through emotional experiences. When I used to perform on piano or flute, I relied heavily on emotional thoughts and experiences, in order to relate to the music. It’s nearly impossible to feel connected to your work if you do not have emotional attachment towards it.

2) You have no desire to climb the ‘corporate ladder.’ Unfortunately, I have no desire to climb any ladder but my own, and perhaps some (though not all) creative cookies can relate to this one. Most of us are looking to reach our own dreams without having a corporate title to define success. We want to  be one of a kind without having to fit in and aspire for what everyone else is competing against.

3) We are daydreamers in our own world. If you’ve ever sat on the bus and stared out the window at the leaves or walked on the streets painting a picture in front of you, you know the feeling of daydreaming. Think of when you sat in Maths class, staring off into space and suddenly thinking about adventures and scenarios. You create your own story in that space of time.

4) You are most productive at a certain time. For myself, I am most productive in the morning and just before bed time. For many musicians they may find that their practice is most effective in the morning when they are bright and alert, and for others it may be at night time. For an artist or a writer, they may feed off of the early hours of the morning to express their thoughts. These creative moments are the ones that have the most productivity and work completed.

5) We find self expression in many ways. For creative people, they need to have a way to express themselves. For example, writing is a wonderful way of expressing your experiences and emotions. Drawing, writing poetry and many other hobbies can allow us to not feel too enclosed in a cage, and set free our mind.

6) Our minds are always running with ideas and thoughts. I’m not sure if this is also because I think a lot more then I speak in general, but I find many creative people are always thinking. They are coming up with new ideas, always finding inspiration and running with thoughts.

7) The need to work in a suited environment. Whether it’s sitting at the park, painting in a studio or working at home at your desk. The need to work somewhere where you feel your creativity and focus is most peaked is very important. A writer is likely to work in an environment that does not have many distractions and is quiet.

8) We feel emotions deeply. A composer writes music that touches hearts. You feel what they feel. Musicians are often very sensitive people because they understand that our emotions connect us with other people, and allow us to have a better understanding of ourselves as individuals. If you were to have an empty mind and feel nothing, then you would always be faced with a blank page.

9)Finding joy by getting into a creative flow. When you get into the zone it’s a marvelous feeling. You feel you cannot stop and that there is a continuous flow while you work. There is a need to keep creating and get your ideas expressed before they disappear.

10) The inner child is always within you. Children have one of the most beautiful ways of seeing the world. They are always curious, imaginative, always energetic to try new things and are always exploring and asking questions. Creatives always hold that sense of curiosity and need their own authentic self to define their work. They need to be able to express themselves with originality.

11) You chase dreams not money or status. The importance to live a life filled with passion and self expression is far more important and integral for a creative soul. We don’t desire for status or how much money we earn. If we can make a good living off of what we love, that is the ultimate and most wonderful reward.

The world needs art, for without it it would be filled with black and white. Creativity fills the spaces with colour, spirit and imagination. It gives the world what we need more of – emotional connection, creativity, love of life and the ability to embrace ourselves and the people around us. I believe every person has that inner child within them that can create beautiful things. It’s only a matter of allowing yourself to do so.

shot from Song of the Sea (a beautiful film that I highly recommend watching) Saoirse- Song of the sea.png

Remember This When You Feel Life Is Hard

George Hendrik Breitner Girl in Red Kimono Model Geesje Kwak via It's about time - bjws.blogspot.com.jpgIt was a cold Spring night and the streets were beginning to feel deserted. The air feels icy and you can’t quite feel your nose or ears. I was outside in the quiet hours of the night with my boyfriend. Ahead of us was an ambulance and we saw them assisting an old man that we regularly see. He is homeless and has a pet dog, who is one of the most loyal dogs I’ve ever seen. The dog sat still and calmly, but the dog’s face looked full of sadness. The old man had fainted from starvation and the ambulance workers looked very sad. He was awake now, and as we walked by I could feel a wave of warmth that I wanted to send his way. A feeling of comfort in the blanket-less nights that he was sure to endure. There are many things we see or hear in life that puts things into perspective. That the problems we feel are hard in our lives, can seem so incredibly small to someone else.

Be grateful for when you wake up in the morning to your soft pillows and comfortable blankets. Be grateful for the delicious meal you had for lunch as well as the banana smoothie you drank. Fill your heart with all the things you are deeply blessed to have. Then you will realise just how much wealth you have. We often think of wealth and riches in terms of money. But wealth also means having valuable belongings, a healthy well-being, eating to a satisfied stomach and the loved ones who surround you and make your life far richer and colourful. The inner world inside of you that imagines and creates. There is far more we have, if we just take the time to remember to count them.

Remember this when you feel life is hard: You are blessed to have the things in your life. You are far stronger than you know and you have the ability to make a positive difference in the world. All you have to do is believe in yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t and most of all – don’t believe them. We are our greatest judge, but we are also capable of being the kindest souls. It’s all within us. I do not believe that anyone is born to be bad. That is something that is learned, influenced or adopted over time. When you feel it’s getting tough – don’t give up. Keep going and know that each breath we have is precious, each new day we live is a blessing.

Art by George Hendrik Breitner – Femme en kimono rouge

Stop Telling Women To Smile Or Be Happy

DSC_1273_905.JPGToday, the security guard downstairs told me to be happy, as I politely said “Hello”. It was ironic because he wasn’t smiling himself when he said it. A few weeks ago a homeless man tells me to smile and the guy co-workers I used to work at in cafes would tell me the same. I still remember when I finally told him “Please don’t say that to other girls. It’s actually sort of insensitive.” I could write about this topic for pages and pages because there are just so many scenarios where I feel women are told what they should and shouldn’t do. On these occasions that I experienced, they have always made it sound like a demand or an order and they weren’t smiling themselves.

I remember reading somewhere, Jennifer Garner talked about how she doesn’t want to be asked about her work-life balance and her children on the red carpet anymore. At the time, her partner Ben Affleck was never asked the question. Women are asked “What are you wearing” or “Did you read the book the film is based on?” far more than men are. Although I will touch lightly on the topic, I feel this article from Huffington Post explains it very well. Telling a women to smile or be happy creates the thinking that women are there for the male gaze.

Sometimes I am genuinely having a bad day or I have my resting sad face on but I’m doing just fine. When a creepy stranger or someone I don’t know well tells me to smile, it makes me uncomfortable. Last year, I was making my way home. On this walk there are always at least one or two strange guys who will stand around the pathway. One day, a man stopped me by standing right in front of me. He said I’m pretty and started asking my name, my number and where I lived. First off, the fact of complimenting a women simply by what they look like, just goes to show how much attention is placed on looks and how women are sexualised. Then asking my personal information, I kept repeating I need to go now, clearly not going to tell a stranger my details and managed to dodge my way through.

Those are situations which can be dangerous. Men seem to have the right to pull a serious face, look stern or not smile. Wouldn’t it be a bit strange to see a women smiling 24/7? When I smile or laugh, it’s because I feel that something is funny or enjoyable, but I’m not going to smile when I am in the zone whilst working or staring out into space when I’m walking. To be clear, I won’t even be aware of my facial muscles to make them lift up to grin for you. But when someone demands me to smile, it feels just as rude and intruding as someone telling me to laugh on command. A women doesn’t owe you anything. In serious cases, it can feel like street harassment and make one feel unsafe. In other cases, it’s just highly insensitive.

These are strangers who don’t have a care for your wellbeing. They are not a personal friend or family member who cares about you. When I was in University, a girl used to tell me “Stop looking so stressed!” and she made it an order. I didn’t know her, except that she was my classmate. At the time, I was feeling fine and as someone who grew up just having a very relaxed lip (as I like to call it) it makes me look sad sometimes. I don’t see how putting a fake smile benefits me for someone else. A smile makes someone naturally beautiful, but when it’s forced it’s not going to feel that way. If a smile is supposed to make me look more attractive – why should I? Women are constantly expected to look perfect and meet others requirements.

If I don’t feel like smiling, it doesn’t mean I’m upset, sad, tired or angry. This may seem such a small matter to talk about, but it is a part of a huge issue of how women are treated lower in many cases. Even something from a facial expression imply that womens existence is to please through their body and facial image. Whereas men are seen as able to do anything that they please. Asking me to smile won’t make me feel better. It’s the satisfaction for the person to see their needs being met. Being ladylike doesn’t mean I am always walking around smiling at everyone I don’t know. We should have the freedom to express our emotions on our face as we like.

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The tweets from Rowan explain it well. People were worried because she wasn’t smiling in a photo. She was asked if she is depressed or if something is wrong. I can relate, because I have been asked this question so many times in my life “Are you okay?”, “Is there something wrong?”, “You look sad.” As someone who has been through depression, I know what she means by saying that people think you are overreacting. To simply put it – facial expressions are part of the surface. When I was depressed, I could still pretend to be okay in my daily life, and many people would never guessed that I was going through a rough patch. We need to stop judging people from the way they look – smiling or not.

image via

Smile Diary: Six Months Braces Update

collage.jpgThe days are so wonderfully sunny and as I step outside, there are blue skies all above me with not a cloud in the sky (well, maybe one or two wispy ones floating by). Today happens to be one of those days where grey white clouds blanket the sky. Spring is such a beautiful time. I can see the little ladybirds starting to walk across on the glass, and I stare at them from their underside. Some of them always manage to sneak inside the studio. The flowers are getting ready to bloom. I’d like to think that this is a third way through my braces journey, if everything successfully completes within 18 months. Throughout the last several weeks everything has been very much the same, except I started to wear rubber bands. There have been moments where I laugh too hard and the bands snap in half or fling out of my mouth, which is quite a sight to see.

Otherwise, my gaps are continually gradually closing and my flexibility with what I eat is now very real. In my first smile diary post, I talked about how there is difficulty in eating hard foods, and not to mention my slight fear in having any brackets broken. The fear has definitely subsided, and if I am to ever eat almonds or peanuts, I chew very carefully like a chipmunk in slow deep thought. I feel that during this half year, my teeth are now generally very straight and in position, but it’s just a matter of closing the extraction gaps and correcting my bite now. One can only assume that the closing of gaps may take from anywhere to a year or more. Although, I do have my fingers crossed for them to be somewhat closed by the end of the year.

collage by katiepassionfruit | lady birds via sunflower_large2-300x300.png

New Zealand Fashion Week – Street Style 2016

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I feel quite possibly each year, I tell myself that I have to go to NZFW at some point. Perhaps when I next move back, I will go. It’s always good to see the amazing designs of the creative and talented New Zealand designers. My favourite street styles are always the ones that stand out from the crowd. They have their own quality of style and confidence. My favourite look this year is Talisa’s Day One Outfit from Eugenie. She makes minimalism and simplicity look so chic, effortless and stylish.

Happy birthday @jaimeridge! Love the team at @nzfashionwk photo by @Parker #NZFW

A photo posted by New Zealand Fashion Week (@nzfashionwk) on

that #flow

A photo posted by Wono Kim aka W. (@wonokimprimo) on

Back to Blak for NZFW Opening Night. For more, check out the blog [link in bio]. ✨✨ #nzfw #nzfw2016

A photo posted by McKenzie Collins (@currentlylovingblog) on

Rain rain go away, colour, colour here to stay! Especially on my P9! Beautiful model at #nzfw @nzfashionwk @huaweimobilenz

A photo posted by Editorial Girl (@editorial_girl) on

NZFW | day one

A photo posted by Carmen Huter (@carmenhuter) on

Team @SimplyYouMag #NZFW photo: @hsburg

A photo posted by Nathalie Owen (@nathalie_owen) on

The Art Of Being Yourself

xKikis-Delivery-Service-1989-00-00-56.jpg.pagespeed.ic.XPeLW3CLHU.jpgThere is a common saying that goes don’t trade your authenticity for approval. It speaks such truth and is a wise reminder to remember that we are born into this world to be as we are. We live in a world that often wants to conform and fit in, which leaves space for no originality and causes people to feel the need to behave a certain way. As someone who was left out a lot growing up, I can really relate to the concept of being and embodying yourself with no shame. The truth is there were a lot of people who talked a certain way because other people spoke that way. There are people who wear certain clothing because they want to fit in with a crowd and then there are people who aspire to be someone else. For myself, I would rather be with a few friends that accept me solely for who I am, rather than acting as another person.

I have mentioned this in a few posts, but one of the best advice I received growing up was from my father, who always said to be yourself. If I were ever to face a problem or feel doubtful in myself, he would remind me to stay true to myself. Don’t worry so much about what others think. When I reflect on many moments of being left out, most of the time it was through choice (call it the introvert inside of me) of preferring to spend time in my own mind. Other times it was simply because I didn’t feel the desire to be energetic or talk about certain things. As someone who is more of a wallflower, I like to observe or have a fruitful (for want of a better word) conversation with someone about insightful, witty, meaningful or reflective things. I always feel energy by things that make me think about life in another way.
largeGrowing up, I personally did not enjoy high school, which Savannah Brown explains so wonderfully well. On one hand I felt that they looked past the arts and the creative side, but put a lot of focus on sports and grades. On the other hand, there was a sense that the arts is often looked down on, compared to being a doctor, computer engineer or accountant. There were many things that occured, which caused me to feel there was something wrong with me, when questions such as: “Why are you so quiet?”, “Are you feeling okay?” or “Why aren’t you talking?”. As an introvert, I just didn’t feel the need to speak or engage in drama or certain situations. There was this inclination to assume that when one is quiet, that there is something wrong. It immediately makes one feel like an outsider. I spent a lot of years in high school feeling like there was something wrong with me…and that was absolutely not true.

by Marcel DzamaIt makes me embrace even more so who I am today. Being an INFJ, HSP and a creative soul, I appreciate the parts of myself that doesn’t like to have to fit in. I wear what I feel like, say what I feel the need to and speak the way I do. I am quite a deep thinker, and I don’t like making much effort to make friends. If I feel the click with someone, then I like things to naturally happen, if it’s meant to be. I’m quite silly and that’s a layer that people don’t usually expect when they just meet me. As an introvert, I tend to peel back the layers more and more when I get to know someone on a personal level. Most people never see who I am fully, but that doesn’t go to say that I am not being fully myself. It just means I’m not ready to show all the sides of myself.

In one of the wise words in a Ted talk by Caroline McHugh: “I mean people that have been successful at achieving whatever they set out to do. You’ll find that the thing they have in common is they have nothing in common.” she goes on to say “These are individuals who have managed to figure out the unique gift that the universe gave them when they incarnated, and then put that at the service of their goals. ” This is a wonderful talk that I highly suggest watching. We were all told, be yourself at some point. Whether it was before a job interview, meeting a new person or a presentation we are preparing. Whatever it may be, we were told this because the best person we can be is the person we were born as. Every person has the potential to do great things, without the concern of what others beside them are doing.

78eef0363f87d72978535e614b66257c.jpgThe way you appear is quite possibly the smallest and insignificant part of yourself. Not to say this in a sense to neglect it – because dear reader, you are beautiful. However, it’s to emphasise how much your mind is the most beautiful of all. Everyone has their own quirks. Do you ever notice how when you make a new friend, and the more you get to know them, the more you may start to see their funny side or the side that is compassionate and caring? Being yourself means that you know you are not perfect, and you don’t mind that. Being yourself doesn’t have to mean an outgoing, confident and self assured person that the media often sculpts. It means embracing your quiet, embracing your beauty and embracing the parts of yourself that make you you.

It’s not about fitting into what is seen as right and it isn’t about conforming to societies expectations. At the time, I expected myself to go to University because it is just what one does if they want to be successful – at the time this was what I thought. The truth is University isn’t the only way to success, it simply encourages it. Being yourself is knowing that you are you in all of your strange habits, personal style choices and the way you think about certain things. You have nothing to prove to other people. It is far better to be yourself and meet people who draw towards you, then draw the wrong people who will meet someone who is just fleeting by as a copy.

Being yourself is the ultimate way to embrace the world of judgment and order, with a touch of your own special magic.

art: naked women via | masks by Marcel Dzama cat-silhouette-2-1433446102Gs1.jpg