Where is the Little Asian Girl on this InStyle cover?

InStyle InjusticeI always look forward to the latest issue of InStyle arriving in the mail, and this month was no different. As a new mom, I thought it was sweet that a circle of little girls graced the cover with the elegant Victoria Beckham. Her collaboration with Target will be launching in a couple of weeks, so I eagerly turned to page 180 in anticipation of learning more.

As I looked through the photo spread and studied the girls’ clothing (mentally listing the ones I wanted to buy for Little V), I suddenly noticed part of a little Asian girl’s face on the bottom right side of page 182. Oh that’s nice they’re being inclusive, I thought, until I looked for her in other photos of the spread. In one photo (page 181) you could see the girl’s right eyebrow and forehead. In another you see her right cheek (page 182). Yet another had part of her back, hair, and legs (page 183). Except for the first shot I noticed, she was practically invisible. If you had photoshopped a blank space over her in all those pictures, it would hardly make a difference. Her presence didn’t matter.

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What happened next took me by surprise. I felt outraged. I felt hurt. I felt shamed. I was in disbelief. It was a magazine photo shoot, but it felt personal. While it may have been unintentional on the photographer’s part, these pictures perpetuated the stereotype I had often felt growing up – be quiet, stay in the back, don’t let anyone notice you. While all the other girls had at least one shot where they were clearly front and center, this little Asian girl was always in the back, or not in the picture at all.

Why? And who is responsible? Should it be the photographer’s responsibility to be more inclusive? Should he have coaxed the little girl into letting her shine? Should it have been the editorial staff to make sure there was at least one photo where she was fully represented? Even if you make the argument that this little girl was shy, then shouldn’t they have made a better effort in finding a more rambunctious Asian girl model?

Because not all Asians are meek and reserved. Not all of us stand in the background, content with whatever is given to us.

I resented it then, but appreciate now how my Dad used to push me in the front whenever we were in a large group of any kind, whether it be a museum or visiting some tourist site in a foreign country. “Ask questions,” he insisted, “get their attention.” I retorted that he should ask the questions himself, not understanding he could see into my future. That if I didn’t speak up, I would disappear and nobody would notice. We are a race that has quietly excelled in many areas, but when it comes to media and the public spotlight, we are underrepresented. The first and last time an “Asian” was nominated for Best Actress was in 1935. 1935!!! And Merle Oberon clearly looked more white than Indian.

And yet, while we can (and should) hold photographers and national magazines responsible for their ignorance, I realize that I, too, am also partly to blame. I think back to the many times I was mocked and humiliated as a kid and an adult, and how I just stood there, saying nothing. How can I let my own daughter know that she deserves just as much “face time” as any other girl regardless of race or ethnicity, that she is just as beautiful and worthy, if I don’t start by standing up for myself?

We have a voice. Let’s use it.

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A Day in the Life of This Mama

Little V recently turned 1 (!!!), and I still can’t believe I’m a mom. I used to think my old life (pre-baby) was busy, and now I wonder what I did with all that free time. Mr. Wonderful and I have no clue what new movies are out right now, and we’re lucky if we make it out to a restaurant once a week, but life somehow feels more full without those things.

Sometimes when I have the chance to grab coffee with a girl friend, I get asked, “So how’s life?” For some reason, I find myself at a loss for words when it comes to that question. It’s routine, it’s fun, and it’s busy, all in one. I thought it’d be fun to give you some iPhone snapshots of what a typical day looks like for us!

a day

7:35am – Little V normally wakes up sometime between 7am-8am, which means that’s when we wake up too. I know most kids (and adults) wake up earlier than that, so we’re not complaining! Not too long ago we made the decision to live in the same neighborhood where we work, and it’s helped us achieve a better work-life balance.

7:50am – After going through my morning skincare routine, I stick in my contacts and get breakfast started for the family. Milk for Little V (hooray, no more breastfeeding!), and usually eggs of some sort with whatever ingredient is in the fridge. Meanwhile, Mr. Wonderful does the diaper changing and snot sucking (Little V has been congested of late).

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8:10am – We eat, taking turns feeding Little V and laughing at all her wonderful ways. This girl smiles through life, whether it’s sipping milk, dancing in her chair, or trying to sound out new words.

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9:00am – Time for daycare. We’re lucky that we got accepted into a place that is only two blocks away from our current apartment. And yes…in San Francisco there is an entire application (and sometimes interview) process to get into daycare. Even though I applied when I was pregnant, a space didn’t open up until Little V was 10 months old! We are still #52 in another local daycare we applied to, no joke.

9:20am – I throw on some clothes (leggings and a sweater), clean the kitchen and get to work. In case you don’t know, I’m a stylist! The best part of my job is being able to do nearly everything from home, including meetings with my boss.

12:00pm – Lunch. Then yoga class. Or my weekly physical therapist appointment. Or lunch with Mr. Wonderful. Just depends on the day.

2:20pm – Throw in some laundry (dirty baby clothes never end), then work again.

3:45pm – Start prepping for dinner. We live right above a Whole Foods supermarket, which has really made the transition into parenthood that much easier.

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4:35pm – Time to get ready to pick up Little V. The day just flies by! We drop by Whole Foods to pick up some fruit and mochi for dessert. I spend the rest of the afternoon with her until Mr. Wonderful comes home.

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6:30pm – Daddy’s home! I swear this is Little V’s favorite part of the day. It doesn’t matter how much time I spend with her, she loves her Daddy. :) I finish cooking dinner while Mr. Wonderful plays with his girl. Today’s menu: okonomiyaki (a Japanese savory pancake).

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6:40pm – We pray. We eat. We talk about our day. All is good (except for the part where Little V continuously chucks food onto the floor).

7:15pm – I clean up, while Mr. Wonderful slowly starts the bedtime routine (quiet play, clean change of clothes, read books).

8:45pm – Lights out for Little V! Some nights we try to catch up on the mail and mundane chores, while other times we cycle through our TV/Netflix shows (Big Bang Theory, Fresh Off the Boat, Blackish, Mind of a Chef, Chef’s Table). I have 30 minutes of physical therapy exercises to do every day, so watching a show makes it less boring. Occasionally I’ll use this time to blog.

10:30pm – Bedtime skincare routine, then off to bed. Sometimes one of us will stay up reading, but lately I’ve been fighting a cold so it’s an early bedtime for me…

Good night!

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Are High End Leggings Worth It? A Review on Athleta, Michi, and Calvin Klein

There’s no sense in fighting it anymore–leggings have become a part of my daily uniform. I never quite understood why many moms, even trendy ones, are often seen wearing leggings and other athletic wear, but now I get it. You need something that you can move in, be vomited on, and come out of the washer and dryer booger-free. I’ve ripped some designer jeans trying to crawl on the floor once, and never mind trying to machine-dry denim unless you want them to shrink and fade after a few washes. Besides, now that I’m always in sneakers I may as well complete my outfits in athleisure.

I started with Target leggings, because why spend $100 when you can spend $10? But honestly they were a little scratchy and a bit thin for my liking. Plus I wanted something with an edgier style, so I dropped into a local Athleta store on my way home from yoga class one day.

I tried on every style of leggings they had in the store and liked the Excursion Tight (photo below) the best. I also picked up a pair of Polartec Power Stretch Tight, which is a fairly basic piece but amazingly warm. I’ve been reaching for it when the temperatures drop below 50s at night.

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[Read more…]

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Floral Maxi with Leather Jacket

Floral maxi

I had a couple of events to attend recently, and was at a total loss on what to wear. Due to my foot injury last year, wearing anything but these sneakers was not an option. I was hoping to wear a short, fitted dress for the sporty, flirty look that many celebs are rocking, but it wasn’t right without black and white sneakers. A maxi dress seemed like a safe idea, but the few I own have longer hems that were meant to be worn with heels. Since I didn’t have enough time to get one altered, I turned to Rent the Runway. [Read more…]

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The Meaning of Pain

Meaning

In the end, adversity finds us all.

For the past five years, I’ve struggled through various physical, debilitating pains – first a hip surgery that left me unable to run, then a permanent toe fracture, and now a neuroma/plantar fasciitis/metatarsalgia (depending on which of the five (six?) doctors I’ve seen in the last year you ask).

To suffer through any type of pain is a test of endurance, whether it’s the physical kind or the wrenching heartbreak you experience through a broken relationship or death. Sometimes it’s the repeated hope and disappointment of fertility tests or surgeries that fail and fail again. Sometimes they’re all intertwined. Sometimes we plead with God to take it away. Sometimes we don’t see the point of living any more.

Sometimes we tell ourselves that we’re above the pain, that we’ve moved on and it can’t touch us. I find this works on most days when it happens to be a busy time at work or when Little V is yelling for attention. But when it’s calm, an unsettling feeling starts inside of me.. [Read more…]

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Holiday Sweaters

There is nothing quite like a great sweater during the holiday season – cozy enough so that you’re warm and comfortable, unique enough so that you have some style, and casual enough so it doesn’t look like you’re trying too hard.

I nabbed a few sweaters during this year’s impressive Black Friday sales, and thought I’d share them with you:

Holiday SweaterVince Camuto Cold Shoulder Sweater, XXS Petite

[Read more…]

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Giving Thanks To The Parking Ticket Collector

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There are obvious people in my life I’m thankful for – Mr. Wonderful, for one. Little V. My sister. The friends who have stuck by me through the good and the bad. And then there’s the elderly man who collects my ticket at the parking garage of my chiropractor’s office.

Being a ticket collector must be one of the most mundane jobs I can think of. Even filing books at a library seems more interesting (which I did for many years as a teen). I’d take a job at McDonald’s over sitting in a booth of a dark garage by myself, staring into space until the next person who wishes to exit the premises comes along. And yet whenever I see this man, he says, “Hi! How are you?” with a huge smile on his face, and then says, “Have a nice day!” as if he really means it. His good spirits are contagious, and no matter what kind of mood I was in that morning, I always leave my weekly chiropractor’s appointment feeling better in more ways than one.

Though I don’t even know the name of this man, his simple actions remind me that regardless of how insignificant your actions may seem, it can make a difference in someone else’s day.

Wishing you and your loved ones a happy thanksgiving!

Who have you been thankful for this year?

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A New Sweater for Mama

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Pre-baby, there were two types of sweaters in my closet – cashmere and embellished. Wool had always made me itch, so growing up I kept warm in the winter by layering a gigantic sweatshirt over a couple of long-sleeve tees. (Obviously, this did not make me date worthy for quite a long time). When I finally discovered cashmere, I started stocking up on the precious sweaters during after-Christmas sales. J.Crew makes some of my favorites, especially with their gorgeous colors.

Now that I have a baby, spit-up is a common occurrence, and I did not want to start racking up unnecessary dry-cleaning costs. I’ve tried hand-washing a couple of cashmere sweaters in the past, and knew that was a mistake (the fine material becomes fuzzy and worn looking).

As for my embellished pieces…well let’s just say that Little V does not enjoy rubbing her face on rhinestones.

[Read more…]

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5 Tips on Traveling to Europe with a Baby

VtravelI’m just as nervous as you, honey.

When Mr. Wonderful first suggested we spend the rest of his paternity leave going to Europe, I thought he was out of his mind. Little V was only 2 months old at the time, and the idea of hauling my sleep-deprived, half-crazed self with a baby in tow just seemed insane. I could barely get through the day by day, and he wanted to travel?!

“Fine,” he said. “You’re no fun.”

Sigh. Apparently giving birth to a baby also turned me into a party-pooping old grouch.

So I relented, though in the weeks and days leading up to the trip I was half-hoping that a minor catastrophe would happen. Just bad enough where Mr. Wonderful would have to admit cancelling the trip would be for the best, but of course not so bad that anybody got permanently hurt. I did end up with a foot injury, and Little V did pick up an ear infection (we went to urgent care two days before the trip), but Mr. Wonderful cheerily carried on with his packing. So off we went. And here are some things I learned:

[Read more…]

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The Practice of Slowing Down

Slowing Down

Some readers have asked where I’ve been, and when I would start writing again. Little V is already 7 months old–where has the time gone?

It all started with a foot injury in late June. An innocent pair of new, flat sandals did me in this time (two years ago it was a pair of too-tall heels). My podiatrist gave a little laugh at my vanity, but assured me it would be better in two weeks. Fast forward three months later, and the pain from my foot has spread to my heel, ankle, and entire lower left leg. Add on the classic aches and pains of motherhood–back problems and tendonitis–and I was forced to slow down. Way down.

[Read more…]

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