Being A Chinese-American Woman in Western Society

I was at the nearby Westfield yesterday when it happened again. Some idiotic mall salesman with an Eastern European accent attempts to get my attention with a “Ni hao! Ni hao!” At the moment I was trying to get to Topshop, so I just asked him where it was, as he tried to ask me where I was from.

I’m speaking English better than you, in an American accent. Wouldn’t that clue you in? Of course, I knew what he was actually asking. What country of the Far East/exotic Orient do your people hail from? My frustration with this question can be expressed through the videos below:

I also showed one of my ethnically Chinese/Korean mixed friends a post yesterday that communicates the same kind of frustrations, and this was her response (and if you’re reading this, L, I hope it’s ok that I shared!):

I legit got into a fight with the guys at my regular bagel place. All of them are Indian, Pakistani or from Bangladesh and one night they asked me where I’m from. I said “California”. This is always my answer. They asked again and I answered with the same thing. People always think I’m kidding around, and most have the gall to say “oh you know what I mean”. Normally I don’t give in. I just say “I’m American. My parents are American. We all have American passports and we all pay American taxes”. Anyway, they were creeps who wouldn’t give me my bagel that I paid for until I told them, so I eventually gave in and told them. Sleazes told me “oh yeah, mixed people are always the most attractive”. I almost threw my bagel at all of them/barfed on their store floor.

But that’s when I have time and am feeling pissed off. Normally I just say America and put on my best if-you-don’t-get-the-hell-away-from-me-I-will-snap face. If you don’t want to deal with that shit, then just say “America” or “Washington” or wherever and walk away/turn away to signal the end of a discussion.

Sorry for the rant. It’s just that this has happened so much in the past two years that a lot of frustration has built up. Way to use my ethnicity to completely dehumanize and objectify me and mask it as simple curiosity. Ugh.

The only reason why I don’t punch every guy (because women rarely ask) this happens with is because I know most don’t even know they’re being racist (and creepy and gross and need to put their dicks away). So instead, I show my annoyance and let them know it’s not okay without any cursing.

She majors in psychology, so expressed that in a far more concise way than I ever could. It is disgusting to me for the reason that my friend mentioned, and also because this happens to Asian-American women far more than it does to the men. When a white person tells you they’re from South Africa you don’t then follow up with, “But where are you really from?” If I tell you I’m from Seattle, I’m from Seattle. The only difference is that the Chinese didn’t colonize the US like the Europeans did with South Africa.

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Thoughts From My First Day in London

There’s so much going through my head and although I wanted to take after a good friend of mine (she knows who she is) and live tweet my thoughts & life, I thought that maybe a scattered blogpost would be better. Probably not. Oh well.

I land at around 11:15 am local time… Yay London! I hope I get through the border and don’t have to fly back home because I was an idiot and applied for the wrong visa. (Long story…)

After about a half hour of waiting in line, I pass the border crossing thing… Phew, thank God. I was severely worried for a second there.

Erm, now what?

Right, luggage. I notice that both my bags are on the verge of giving out because I overstuff them so much every time. I also notice that Heathrow doesn’t charge for trolleys. WHAT IS THIS MADNESS? I pass on the offer though, ’cause I’m strong and I can manage, thank you very much.

The new task at hand is now to get from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3. I have no idea where anything is. Hi, American here! Can a smart/witty Brit come help a homie out?

No witty Brit approaches. After walking around in circles for a while, I figure out that I have to go through a series of underground tunnels.

About a 2 minute walk into the first underground tunnel, I realize that my bags are really fucking heavy. Dammit, Rachel. Me and my stupid pride.

I also notice that the underground tunnels are really stuffy. The walk comes out to be about a a good 15 minutes, but I took a break about every 3 minutes so it took me significantly longer. Nobody else is sweating. At this point my glasses also keep sliding down my face so I take them off. I am now sweaty and slightly blind.

I finally get to Terminal 3 and locate the Queen Mary welcoming team. At this point I am very disheveled, but hope that I look dewy and only slightly sweaty. I mean, just last week DKNY and Alexander Wang were embracing sweaty chic, right? I’m sure I wasn’t what they had in mind, but it’s okay, I trick myself into thinking I don’t look completely disgusting.

After a bit of traffic and idiot drivers and me wondering why we were on the wrong side of the street, the driver gives us a mini tour of Central London. He makes a bunch of distasteful jokes about us girls marrying rich and making our future husbands take us to Harrods. I let it slide. He also asks us if we prefer WIlliam or Harry. Is Harry Styles an option? I know he’s not technically royal, but… We pass by the London Eye, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, and a bunch of other places. I refrain from taking blurry bus pics until I can see these places up close.

We finally reach campus, and the student village is really nice. I’m excited! Since then I’ve made a few new acquaintances with the other kids in my flat. My lack of sleep on the plane last night is also starting to get to me. After arriving at school I made some pit stops at Sainsbury’s and Nando’s. Tomorrow will probably be the mall to see if there’s any other stuff I need stocking up on, and I’ll probably hit up some local markets to figure out the food sitch soon too.

London looks promising!

The Roundup: NYFW SS15

Trend-wise, matching sets are here to stay, normcore isn’t going anywhere, and fringe is making a strong comeback. Also: layers, layers, layers.

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Clogs and flatform slippers at Coach. Also, that faux fur coat looks awfully comfy.

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Layered skirts from Rosie Assoulin, DKNY, and Zimmerman.

Now onto the more interesting stuff.

I really like Peter Som’s beauty look with the orange on the inner corner, but Nanette Lepore’s eye makeup really stopped me in my (virtual) tracks. I was probably browsing through The Man Repeller, The Coveteur, or catching up on Al Jazeera, but all of a sudden my first priority became getting a closer glimpse of this model’s face. I saved you the trouble of digging. Here it is.

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Image via The Fashion Spot

Top knot, white graphic liner, mine-but-better lips? Yes, yes, and yes.

With that out of the way, let’s return to the clothes. For me, as a not very seasoned fashion enthusiast, it was really cool to learn more about designers who weren’t doing the same old number as everybody else. The line that epitomized this for me was Chromat, who touts celebrities like Iggy Azalea, Beyonce, and Madonna as fans. What attracted me to this line is that it not only looks like something that a woman with very healthy self-image would wear, but it also reminded me of what Little Mix wore in their video for Salute. The cutouts and structure of these pieces have just the right balance of outer space vibes meets kink.

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Middle image via Yahoo UK

Chromat SS15 on the runway; Little Mix Salute music video outfits in the middle

Speaking of experimental, the lines from the rave/festival-kid-inspired MBMJ and Jeremy Scott lines blew my mind. I’ll admit that I’d grown a bit weary of Miley’s incessant Instagram posts of her “dirty hippie” crafts, but it was cool to see how her pieces complemented Jeremy Scott’s 70’s mushroom trip of a line. Over at MBMJ, Luella Bartley & Katie Hillier infused the perfect amount of rage-against-the-establishment spirit into the clothing.

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Jeremy Scott and Marc By Marc Jacobs Shows

Following the rave children we have the rock n’ rollers, presented by Tommy Hilfiger and Marc Jacobs. Tommy also carefully casted his group of models to go along with the theme of the show:

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Georgia May Jagger opened Tommy’s show; Marc Jacobs models rocked grungy looks comprised of Joey Ramone haircuts and military silhouettes

File these under: Cool Prints

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Bibhu Mohapatra’s optical illusion dress. Although I was also a fan of Carolina Herrera’s finale shattered floral dresses, here the flow of the fabric complements the print so well, and is completely mesmerizing. This seems more novel.

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Jonathan Simkhai’s shattered glass dresses and skirts went beyond the look that you get with a Sally Hansen “Special Effects” nail polish.

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Mara Hoffman said that she wanted to move away from the prints that she is so well known for, even though she couldn’t resist throwing in a few with a cool marijuana leaf print. She wanted to focus more on the overall aesthetic of the line and the MH girl. Well, she nailed it. Like Mohapatra, the image on the fabric perfectly complements its relaxed silhouette. 

Then onto comfortable, relaxed, menswear-inspired clothing, my favorite. As a self-proclaimed tomboy, these are just a few outfits I would like to have in my dream closet:

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Rag & Bone, Public School, Peter Som, Richard Chai Love, Organic by John Patrick, Adam Selman.

And although I will be the first to say that I abhor bodycon, I quite liked Alexander Wang’s (whose H&M collab is coming soon!) sneaker-inspired take.

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And lastly, at the risk of sounding like a total basic, this is everything.

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All in all, I’d say that this NYFW had a good mix of interesting looks and designers stepping outside of their usual constraints. One aspect of that is that more and more designers are beginning to move away from Lincoln Center. We also saw designers trying different ways of showcasing clothing: Gareth Pugh’s dance performance, the Opening Ceremony skit directed by Spike Jonze and Jonah Hill, Ralph Lauren’s Polo for Women 4D show (even though that technically wasn’t a runway thing), and more. I love when people break the norms! We need more of this. I just hope one day I’m fortunate enough to see these shows in person!

All images via Style.com, unless otherwise specified.

The Echo, Cool Urban Projects, and NYFW!

I have decided to rename my infant blog “The Echo”, because it reflects my opinion that all good ideas and movements start with a seed, then spread through the ripple effect. Although The Echo will encompass more than just my opinions on politics, sustainability, and culture, I try to live as conscious and ethical a life as possible – and hope that all will be reflected here.

Going off of that, here are a few awesome urban projects that have been happening this summer, or are relatively new to me:

  • The Water Tank Project – In order to raise awareness over water sustainability in New York City (and coinciding with the California drought), a group of acclaimed artists and public school students have been producing artwork to go up on New York’s water tanks. Notable artists like Jeff Koons, Ed Ruscha, and Laurie Simmons have been involved, to name a few.
  • Skinny Jean Gardeners – Lee and Dale Connelly are two brothers based in the UK who – you guessed it – wear skinny jeans and like to garden. They’ve been talked about by everyone from BBC Radio 1 to The Telegraph, and are finding unusual and cool ways to implement gardening projects. Check ’em out!
  • Catalytic Poetry – In May of this year, the University of Sheffield debuted the world’s first “Catalytic Poem”, which is essentially a giant poem printed on banner material that has the ability to react with nitrous oxides, which makes up 7% of our greenhouse gases, and produce non-harmful nitrates. In other words, it’s the world’s first air-cleaning poem. It’s some sick stuff, and the technology has also been applied to clothing; see the Catalytic Clothing website here.
  • MoMA PS1: Hy-Fi – The Hy-Fi exhibition opened at MoMA in late June, and is a 100% organic structure created by The Living as a backdrop to their summer Warm Up concerts. The bricks were grown from hay and fungus, and natural dye artists Shabd Simon-Alexander and Audrey Louise Reynolds created a clear protective coating to prevent the structure from damage.

Today is also the first day of New York Fashion Week!! I’ll be keeping up with the shows and writing my thoughts. A day by day review is a bit excessive for me, since I’m not actually in New York, but I’ll do a round-up at the end of the week.