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.


The Meaning of Pain


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…]


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

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Giving Thanks To The Parking Ticket Collector


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?


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.

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A Letter to My Husband (on Father’s Day)

Fathers Day

Dear Husband,

It’s your first Father’s Day, and I’ve been feeling the pressure to write something especially heartwarming.  Perhaps some words about love, followed by sweet musings of parenthood, then signed with an XOXO.

And yet as I sit here, wondering what to say, I find myself missing us. I miss the closeness I used to feel, when there was freedom to focus on just you, and how your day went, to hear the latest funny story without being half distracted by whether or not our daughter needs another bottle.

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Review of the new ModCloth namesake label


Not too long ago, ModCloth invited me to a special lunch event. I was still feeling sick to my stomach due to my pregnancy (puking in front of fellow fashionistas would NOT be ideal), but their promise of “exciting news” piqued my interest. I love a lot of the retro, feminine designs on their website, but since the smallest size often started at a Small, it meant I usually had to spend more money to get it altered. Over time, I stopped buying things from them.

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I’m Pregnant. Was it a Mistake?

Dear friends,

I know I’ve been gone for awhile. And the longer I’ve been away, the more foreign it feels to write, and yet this morning I felt so lonely that I knew writing would be more therapeutic than talking to anybody about it.

I’ve been sick. The kind of sickness that normally comes with weight gain, cramps, forgetfulness, and a parasite that finally leaves your body after nine months. [Read more…]


Should I Have Kids?

Photo of nine month baby crying, isolated

I was never one of those girls who planned on getting married or dreamed of her wedding day. But then I met Mr. Wonderful, and spending the rest of my life with him just made sense. I warned him, though, that I didn’t care about a house and I wasn’t sure I wanted kids. Ever.

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Empowering Women for Success (and a giveaway!)


Real Simple and Fidelity hosted the “Women in Success” event in San Francisco this week, and I had the privilege of being asked to cover the evening’s festivities on my blog. I was so excited that some pretty amazing women would be speaking, including actress Ali Larter!

[Read more…]

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