Monday, 5 August 2019

Vanity and Self Obsession - the modern day girl

We had a ball on Friday night.  Think of girls spending 4 hours getting ready for golden hour, standing in the spotlight of the sunlight taking 450 photos of themselves.  I love Instagram culture.  I truly do.  It's not about the likes or the influencer culture or any of that.  I think I just love sharing my life with people.  Is that the appeal for everyone?  Of course we all love getting that one perfect shot, but sometimes it's fun to post any old picture with a thoughtless caption and give your life absolute transparency.  I love that idea of absolute transparency.  Perhaps I just want someone, everyone, to truly know me.

Last month I read an article about how 'finstas' are toxic.  The author talked about how her account was a cry for help, a way of letting people know what was going on in her mind and in her life without actually burdening them.  If she was going through something, she'd post some dark image with a caption about how sad and edgy she was - you know what I mean.  I mean, just last night this girl I think is beautiful posted a caption "self care is eating frozen peas on the kitchen floor", and suddenly she dropped a few notches in my respect scale.  Margaret Zhang gave a talk about your private vs public life, and I think we all need a little privacy, not that I follow that rule.

As I said, I like complete transparency.  The propensity to lay your life on the table in front of somebody is a personality trait in itself, but the key word in that is somebody not everybody.  A year and a half ago my friend told me she used to lie in bed every night and every morning and manifest for a perfect boyfriend.  She told me she'd pray to the moon that he would appear in her life, and one month later there he was.  They're still dating.

In some ways I guess a finsta is like a boyfriend replacement.  It's somewhere to belt out random thoughts when you have nobody who is obliged to listen to them.  Although, even if I had a significant other, I don't think I'd stop relying on public opinion.  Is this attention seeking?  Immaturity? A bad habit? Simply my personality?

And what exactly is it that we want from commitment with boys?  Sure, some girls have strong healthy relationships and I can understand the companionship... but some girls are almost seeing boys just for the sake of it.  Perhaps it's for that feeling Monique described on the Bachelor.  Monique is this blonde girl, a lingerie model, who walks in, shrugs her shoulders and says, "I just want somebody to adore me."

The other day my friend and I were discussing being one of those girls who just exudes intrigue.  A muse.  We couldn't think of anybody we knew in real life, so I gave the example of Lana Del Rey, to which she replied, "But M, Lana Del Rey is a persona.  She isn't like that in real life.  Nobody can be."  I guess we're all just regular people who can only be loved like that from a distance.  That adoration is not real love.  But if that's not real love, then do I really want real love?

Again, I say transparency, but perhaps the self I lay on the table on social media is my persona.  It's not graceful or intriguing, but a reel of supposed genuinity and fun, as if every mundane moment in my life has an interesting, funny twinkle.  I think I'd rather be graceful and intriguing, but that might be a little late now.

And get this - here I am, sitting on my bed in front of the mirror in the sun.  I don't look graceful, perhaps intriguing at most.  I like my hair and my skin and my oversized jacket, and my eyes look big, a little fierce, a little thoughtful.  But I don't look loveable.  I never look loveable.  I always look best alone.

It's my friend's birthday today though.  If I'd bought her flowers and chocolate, instead of bursting into her room at midnight for a quick effortless hug, that's the kind of girl I'd like to be.  I'm not, and being unselfish is never on my mind, but perhaps all this grace and intrigue and capacity to be adored doesn't matter when you're too distracted with your concern for others to be concerned about yourself.


Sunday, 21 July 2019

There are different types of cultured, dimwit

After 1 week of chaos, and 1 week of recovery and dealing with the aftermath, I'm back.  I'm still coughing, but I'm back.

"Don't you just feel so... mundane right now?"  We watched a movie tonight.

"It's like when you've been flying for 22 hours and you've finally arrived.  It's like, what do you do now?  I'd call it... the boring quiet."

Honestly, it feels depressing.  Like post-concert depression. Or post-holiday depression. Or post-formal education depression, like what-do-I-do-now-that-I'm-a-fucking-adult vibes.  El depresso

Amongst my hazy tired experience of the last couple of weeks I met a boy I'd heard a lot about - private school perfect: good grades, leadership positions, girlfriend, liked by those who matter, elite, prestige, all that.  You'd think just from hearing that description that obviously I wouldn't like him.  You were right.  I sure didn't.  I think I described this dislike as an 'unpopular opinion' one drunken night, but that's besides the point.  Besides, you'd think people would always look at 'unpopular opinions' as cultured or interesting or whatever, but in reality to be 'cultured' they've got to be unpopular enough to not be basic but also not too unpopular.  It's whack.  Anyway, so basically this boy spoke of French books *ahem sorry, I mean  literature* and Roman artists (lol I could so be getting these cultures wrong but you get the gist).  He somehow made his childhood snacks sound cultured - like honey, just because you ate Twinkies as a kid does not make you superior to my jelly cups.  He went around the circle asking everybody what their dream career would have been, like some king deeming his subjects to speak.  Well, he asked everybody but myself, because clearly I am not deep enough to be considered respectable.

Finally the girl next to me pushed the talking stick to myself, to which my answer was of course, a writer.  To which I was returned with a spiel about creative literature and hoity toity talk I fully don't remember, and then was of course asked if I write anything anymore, to which I lied and said no.  I don't think I've felt smaller, like ever, and I don't know why.

Skip forward a few more days, and a few more not-so-cultured-but-hello-at-least-I-know-how-to-have-fun events later, and I'm sitting next to this boy's brother.  His brother is nice.  His version of cultured is niche memes, and he's not so obnoxious about it.  He names me youtubers such as David Dobrik, who I am vaguely familiar with and remember being funny in his Liza days, from my Youtube loving friends, and then some other people I don't know.  He named singers, who I didn't know, who were related to other singers, who I didn't know, who were related to other singers who I should surely know, who I didn't know.  Eventually I just had to make a joke about how I'm totally uncultured swine.  I mean, here I was mentioning Tana Mongeau and Jake Paul and their fake (or is it real) relationship, and he had no fucking clue what I was talking about.

He also mentioned his cousin who now has a youtube channel - "the kind where you laugh at it, not with it because she's funny, but at it."  I asked if she was interesting, and he told me she was super popular.  "Yeah, but is she interesting though."  He didn't answer the question, but like an hour ago I remembered this conversation and watched some of her videos because curiosity got the better of me.  No, she's not particularly interesting but I mean, she's pretty.  The only thing is, I know he sees me as same as her.  One night I joked about making a youtube channel, and he heard the end of the conversation and asked me if I had one.  He was definitely envisioning her's.  This whole thing makes me feel uninteresting, and basic, but without the face masks and hair masks and necklaces -- so like, ugly basic.

But watching her content makes me inspired to make content, as I am now.  I could hear the excitement in her voice towards making her little album of videos.  I can respect that.  I mean, I'm here throwing random content out into the internet abyss too.

I was just going to take a shower tonight when a boy walked out of his room to use the communal bathroom.  Normally at this hour I'd avoid and ignore, but he's cool, so I gave him a nod and a 'what's up.'  His version of cultured is deep blue, or perhaps deep red, lighting and double monitors: reddit open on one, Spotify playing a playlist titled 'sad bois' on the other.  He'd listen to Tyler the Creator and have girls think of him as 'sensitive' while also not actually saying many words at all, besides the occasional highly inappropriate joke or something about being from the wrong side of the tracks.  Perhaps it's actions that speak louder than physically telling people you're cool because you watch vines, you know?  Bathroom boy is a good example of that appeal.

And then there was the boy who I sat with on the plane home who was so uninteresting yet so attractive that every single word he said, I still recall afterwards.  He didn't talk music, or movies, or books, or even anything particularly deep.  Yet, I still remember every mundane piece of information about his brother or his fights with his dad like it's a piece of art.  He may not know what art is, but you know what, put it all together and he was just as cultured as private school boy or bathroom boy.

Basically my point is, in a round-about way, there are very very different types of people, who in this life will probably rarely encounter, because I've noticed we're segregated like that.  As a result, there are many different forms of cultured to the point where I don't even know what's considered cool anymore, so like, fuck it.  Bathroom boy will never meet private school boy, and even if they did they would have nothing to talk about and probably part ways in like a second.  Is one more cultured than the other? No.  Liking David Dobrik does not make you more cultured than someone who likes Tana Mongeau.  Being a pretty basic girl is honestly a culture in itself.  You may read Kazuo Ishiguro but do you listen to Tyler the Creator?  Or Taylor Swift?  Does it even matter?  Which is more superior?

I don't know.  Fact is, everybody's 'cultured' so elitists need to chill.


Sunday, 30 June 2019


First of all, I got a new laptop.  I need an excuse to use this ridiculously smooth keyboard.

I'm home at the moment, and it's cold.  My nose is pink, my cheeks are rosy, and it makes me feel like a princess version of Jon Snow's red-head girlfriend, whatever her name was.  I like the Winter.  I wish Sydney was like this in Winter.  I like how the view from the mountain is so foggy that the stairs seem to lead to nothingness.  I like how the grass and the car freeze over every morning.  I like how the lake glistens icy blue as the sun sets soft and pink behind the manicured Australian trees.

Home used to make me feel nostalgic, but nowadays I feel nothing at all, like this place has wrapped itself around the person I currently am, giving the place a whole new meaning.  Yet, somehow, the place still reverts me a little every time.  It must be the room or the people, both of which have changed and grown as I have, but still will always act as a time capsule for the way things used to be.

It was cleaning out my old laptop to organise my new one that sparked this idea to write something.  There's folders and folders of stories and school reports in that hard drive, most of which I remember writing, and some of which I don't.  I remember learning about Kafka and non-integer dimensions and writing 14 year old stories about superficial romances, but I don't remember writing letters to myself, or characterising the people I found interesting around me.

That one was particularly interesting - the people of 2015.  There was an Asian girl who seemed like the perfect role model: sporty, had boys affectionately rubbing her head, so the opposite of every stereotype I had ever heard.  There was a girl who seemed so exceptionally cool at the time: 15 with two ex-boyfriends and a bong, cultivating her own sayings "help a brother out", calling everybody 'love', with so much love for her mother at an age where everybody else seemed to be embarrassed.  And there was the boy: he always wore socks with palm trees on them, which I thought was a metaphor for something.  He had long hair which he tied back, and seemed so independent for someone only 16.  He looked like he went on late night adventures, and if an asshole said something obscenely rude to innocent me, he'd look concerned and say "don't worry about it, ignore him."

And I realise I'm still very much the same: inspired and obsessed with the occasional person I find interesting or wish I could be or wish I could be with.  My 2015 self makes me want to write, to capture these people - or my perceptions of them at least - on a page, and to reminisce and understand who it is I want or wanted to be 5 years later.

I always thought my life only really began in 2017, and before that I was an insecure mess who's brain was filled with the mantra be confident, be confident.  It made me admire but misunderstand pre-teens who seemed to have so much personality, like the children in that television show On My Block, who were apparently born in 2004 (the horror).  But I guess I just forgot what it was like to be young.  I underestimated myself.  I forgot all those experiences other than the terribly embarrassing ones that caused me to dislike myself at that age.

This is why I'm glad I wrote.  In the summer of 2016 I wrote a few chapters of a story, which I realise is just a painting of that summer for me.  It's a mosaic of moments and thoughts that meant something, an overall languid, teenage mood of a 16 year old girl with nothing to do.  It's something I could acceptingly write as a teenager, but would feel absolutely stupid writing now.  And yet, as I read this document I don't feel ashamed.  I feel like it's a more enjoyable diary.  I recall legitimately wanting to be a writer at 15, and legitimately wanting to write a book at 16.  Judging from my fiction, I was definitely not good enough, absolutely cringe if anything.  Yet, something about reading these stories makes me want to write something again, now, to start a project, I just don't know what.

I remember being inspired by that chick flick: Stuck In Love - of a family of writers, creatives, people who only wrote from personal experiences and inner cynicism.  That's what I wanted to be.  And I guess if what I wrote was about all things immature and unimportant, that's because I hadn't experienced anything but the desire to experience something, anything.

At least my 16 year old stay-at-home self could conceptualise and document the experiences around her.  I'm unsure if I would even be capable of doing that now.

Here's the summer of 2016:

Chapter 1:
She was sitting on the sidewalk again.  In the sweltering, lazy heat of a suburban summer, her legs were lying straight on the empty road in front of her.  Hands placed behind her, she tipped her head back towards the sun, closing her eyes despite the protection of her round pink sunglasses.

Jessica Haydn craved adventure.  She craved firsts and unexpected moments, and most definitely not plans.  While she worried that high achieving, success-bound students were signing up for summer programs and leadership courses, getting ahead; as usual, she was perfectly happy to be doing absolutely nothing productive.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a photographer here to capture this precise moment in time, she thought to herself?  Wouldn’t it be picturesque if she were licking on a pink ice cream, to match her pink sunglasses?  She shook these thoughts away.  Not every moment needs to be captured.  It’s okay to just… be.  After all, wasn’t that why she came out onto this empty street in the first place?

A car drove past on the road in front of her, and for a second she wondered whether it would be him.  She imagined that the car would stop, and he would say, “Jessica?  What are you doing here?”  Then she would get in the car and he would take her on a spontaneous adventure. It wasn’t him, of course.  That would be a huge coincidence, or fate.

Being honest to herself, she didn’t really know him at all.  He was just Maisie Holland’s brother, and she wasn’t particularly close to Maisie anyway.  He had been one of the older boys she had always noticed from a distance at school, but he had graduated this year.  She had talked to him multiple times when she and Maisie were working on a school project, and he was so flirty and sarcastic.  She didn’t know if she had ever met a boy so easy to talk to.  She hadn’t seen him in a month and she was still thinking about him.

I am a creature of habits, she thought to herself.  Once I start thinking about something a lot, I never ever stop. Chances are Maisie Holland’s brother is really nothing special.  Chances are the place he takes in my mind is just there because it’s become a habit to think about him.  Perhaps she did need a summer project, after all.

I’m going to write a novel, she decided.  I’m going to write a big fat Great-American-style novel.  I will sit at my desk in an empty, quiet house with my hair in a writer’s knot and big artistic reading glasses, and I will write about life.  But how was she to write about life when she hadn’t experienced anything?  The extent of her experience was studying for a hazy looking future and a flurry of crushes on boys she probably didn’t even like. 

Maybe she should scrap the Great American novel.  Maybe she could learn to cook instead, or learn as many sonatinas on the piano as she possibly could.  With nothing but time spread out in front of her before her final year of school would begin, Jessica was feeling restless.

Chapter 4:
She had known Jasmine since they were toddlers.  Jasmine was one year younger than her and awkward.  She was openly honest and much too believing.  She cared very much about her relationships in the same way a twelve year old is scared of missing out.  Jasmine was innocent, and as was she.

Jasmine’s mother was taking them out for lunch at an Italian restaurant, along with Jessica’s mother and four other ladies.  Jasmine and Jessica sat opposite each other at the end of the table and while there was a lull in the conversation, they were happily munching on their garlic bread.

“My god, when was the last time I saw you?” Jessica said, having scoffed down a large piece of garlic bread in thirty seconds.

“Um, three weeks ago, I think.”

“Wow. Anything new?”

A huge grin spread across Jasmine’s face.  “I actually have something I really want to tell you.”

Jessica immediately gave a huge grin back.  “Yeah?  What?”

The two girls began to whisper excitedly like little girls amongst the laughter of the ladies beside them, their mothers oblivious to the conversation taking place.

“So, I uh, I gave Mitch a Christmas present the other day.”


“And it didn’t cost any money…”


“Do you see where I’m going with this?”

Jessica found this description very vague, but knowing the kind of things Jasmine seemed to think about, and admittedly she did too, she knew where she was going.

“Oh my god! But… three weeks ago you said you hadn’t even kissed him yet!”

“A lot can happen in three weeks.”

“Oh my god!”

“And I have more… but you can’t tell anyone.”

“Of course.”

“So we were out at Karolla Park and Mitch was meeting some friends.”

“Uh huh…”

“And we were sitting there hanging out, and you know how Mitch is.  He’s a skater boy and they kind of just sit there and smoke weed and hang out and shit.  So yeah, then they asked me if I wanted to try some and…”

“Oh my god! What did it feel like?”

“Oh, totally fine.  I mean, like I didn’t think I was really affected, but like, looking back I was.”

“Was how?”

“Like some of the things I said, and the way I was acting.”

“Oh my god! Jasmine!”

“You’re not judging me right?”

“No. Of course not.”  And she really really wasn’t.  In fact, inside, Jessica was wondering why she was always being left behind.  She was never experiencing any of these scandalous rites of passage, and while she may have dismissed these thoughts as stupid and learned that it was not worth caring about, she did enjoy at least knowing people who were experiencing everything.  

“Girls, you look happy.  What are you talking about?”  One of the ladies sitting at the table turned to pay them some attention.

“Oh, um, nothing.”

“Oh, okay then.”

Jasmine and Jessica gave each other the side eye and burst out giggling.

“I’m so happy with my life right now.”  Jasmine said.

Chapter 5:
She was standing through the sunroof of a car.  The music was blasting in the car beneath her, but as soon as her head had reached the sunlight, she couldn’t hear the music anymore.  She mouthed the words anyway and felt absolutely awesome. She was whooping and waving and singing and slightly frightened.

Eventually she didn’t know the lyrics or where the song was at anymore, and she stopped making noises and started to loosen up.  She was no longer gripping the ledge with absolute urgency.  She was no longer leaning awkwardly on the seatback beneath her.  She was standing and the wind was blowing her hair back behind her.

If it weren’t for the breathtaking view she would have closed her eyes and simply felt the pressure of the air on her face.  Instead she watched as the front of the car zoomed forward up the empty road, and the city got smaller and more expansive over the edge of the barriers.

And then the car was at the top of the mountain and turning.  She spotted a couple sitting by their car and gawking at her. She smiled at them before the car was off again, this time zooming down the winding road, faster.  The pressure began to become slightly uncomfortable and she began to lean with each turning.  The joyride had become a roller-coaster ride and she was whooping all over again.

“Okay, we’re reaching the main road now.  You have to get down now.”

It was over and she felt as if this must have been her best birthday ever.

Chapter 6:
She walked into the building of her dad’s office only to see a boy her age sitting in the waiting area.  She had seen him before at one of her dad’s work dinners, and while she had thought he was cute and tried to talk to him, it was difficult when she had other people to talk to and so did he.  In fact, she felt as if she had made a slight fool of herself at that dinner because she, admittedly, was slightly thrown off by his presence, and so, had completely forgotten about him after that night.

He smiled at her as if he knew her, but she knew he barely did.  “Hey.”

“Hey.” She smiled and took a seat next to him.

She was here quite regularly, always stopping by for her ride home, or in this case, dropping off her dad’s lunch because he’d forgotten.  The dropping off of food – this was a one-off scenario.

“So… what are you here for?” she asked him.

“Oh, I’m waiting for a ride home.  Yeah, my car is unavailable for the next six months so I’ll be doing this a lot.”

“Oh. How come?”

“My sister’s borrowing it for some great big road trip.”

“That sucks.”

“Yeah. So why are you here?”

“Dropping off my dad’s lunch.”

“You’re a good daughter.”

She laughed.  “Oh, trust me.  Usually I would say no.  My bus just happened to stop here on the way.”  She didn’t understand why she always talked herself down this way. Although, she guessed she was being honest.

The boy sitting next to her smiled.  He was impeccably well dressed, with a black Ralph Lauren shirt and Khaki shorts.  He was somehow wearing Adidas sneakers without looking basic at all.  She commended him for that.

“Um, can I help you guys?”  The receptionist had finally worked up the courage to ask them why they were sitting there.

“Yeah, we’re waiting for our parents,” she said.

“I’ve already texted my dad but he hasn’t replied.”

“Me too.”

“Oh, they’re probably in the big meeting they called an hour ago.  Your parents probably won’t be out for another hour.”

“Seriously?”  She wanted to take the bus home already, but she supposed it wouldn’t be too awful waiting here with this boy.

“Well, I don’t have another way home and I don’t really have much to do.”  He shrugged.

“Okay then,” the receptionist said.  “I’m just gonna go get some coffee.  I’ll be back.”

With the absence of her constant typing, the room was completely silent.  “So, what’s your name again?” Jessica asked him. She knew his name was Jack, because she’d had enough interest the first time she’d seen him, but she asked anyway.

“Jack. It’s Jess right?”

She blushed.  “Yeah.”

“So, do you have your license?”

“Well, my birthday was yesterday so technically I could, but no, not yet.”

“What!? Happy birthday for yesterday!  Why don’t you get your license?”

“Thanks.” She smiled.  “And I’m going away for a month so I didn’t think it was worth it.”

“Oh.” He smiled.

Over the next two hours she somehow managed to learn his entire life story and all his interests and who all their mutual friends were, until finally her dad came out to the waiting area and she felt as if no time had passed at all.

“Oh. You’re still here.”  Her dad joked.  “Hi Jack.”  He was trying to be a little louder and funnier since he had an audience. Jessica inwardly rolled her eyes. “How are you going?”

“Good thanks, Mr Haydn.  You?”

“Good and good to hear.  So I guess you can finally go home now?  Good thing Jack was here to keep you company.”

“Yeah.” She laughed awkwardly.

“Okay… well I have work to get back to so see you at home.”

He left and she awkwardly got up, with no excuse to stay any longer.

“Well, have fun in Singapore for a month.”  Jack smiled.

Now that she had met him, the thought of going away absolutely sucked.

Until next time.


Sunday, 9 June 2019

Girly Things - things I've learned and observed

There's this girl on Instagram who writes about her experiences in the loveliest manner.  She writes about being loved though, about feeling beautiful for a moment, which I've never experienced.  I watched a movie last night about this 15 year old boy who starts a band to get the girl.  She stands outside the girls' home across from his school smoking a cigarette every afternoon.  She looks like a young version of Lana Del Rey, somehow still pretty after jumping into the river even though she can't swim.  She stands out amongst the other 16 year old girls who awkwardly dance in the high school gym.  I wonder what it would be like to be a muse.

On Friday night I came home with angel wings and sat on the floor, out of place, watching some niche video people probably only understand while they're high on some boy's laptop.  The women in this video: one was being thrown into the air on a parachute at a bonfire, another had the most intense fringe and said "love me." when the man stumbled into the house.  Is that what they want?

So I got up and walked back to my room and sat in front of the mirror admiring my angel wings for a while.

In the movie, the first song he writes is about how it's better when you don't know anything about someone, because they can be whatever you want them to be.  Once you know them, they're limited.  But the problem is, you'd have to be exceedingly beautiful to make a boy think about you all the time without knowing anything about you.  You'd have to be exceedingly genuinely beautiful.  You'd have to have that air.

We are all too showy for that.

People love to impress each other.  That's what I've found.  They'll be ingenuine just to impress each other.  Or to be liked.  Or to be loved.  But it's not real.
I wrote in my diary the other day that I don't trust her, my friend who seems so dearly close to the eyes of the world around me.  "I don't know why, but I don't trust her."  That's the feeling you get when it's all not real.

We've been learning about personality lately.  Personality is the unique organisation of fairly permanent characteristics that sets the individual apart from other individuals, and at the same time, determines how others respond to her or him.  And then there's temperament, which is biological.  Temperament is consistent over time.  We cannot change it.  So, no matter the sociocultural influences, we can never all truly be the same.
This is what's real.  Personality comes in five dimensions, four of which are independent of each other.  We should all, theoretically, have multifaceted personalities; multifaceted, different personalities.  So why do I sometimes feel like I must fit this cookie cutter mould - for simplicity - so he'll truly know me.  And then I add a personality trait, layer by layer, each one becoming more showy than the last --> and now he thinks I'm complicated and multifaceted.. but I'm still in my cookie cutter mould.

And as we grow older the things that make us change.  The pile grows bigger and bigger.  At this point, will anyone ever truly know you?

But the television screen and the niche video boys watch when they're high turn the girl into a one dimensional character again.  No wonder so many girls try to fit the cookie cutter mould for simplicity.  And sadder so, many girls seem to have lost their multifaceted personalities, whilst the boys have gotten to keep their's all along.

Additionally, and off topic, I did a research assignment about the East in the West and why we might be feeling ugly a few weeks ago:

Pressure for Thinness

As with those of Caucasian background, Asians are also susceptible to sociocultural theory and are largely influenced by the media’s beauty standards.  However, Kimber et al. (2015) found that first generation immigrant females were more likely to experience body distortion than 3rd generation-or-later adolescents.  This could be due to “acculturative” stress, where foreign-born adolescents are forced to interact with media and social circumstances that resemble the behaviours and values of Western culture.  Through these interactions, foreign-born adolescents may internalise the perceived difference between their own appearance and the beauty standards of their host country.  Marques et al. (2011) found that Asians commonly reported concerns about straight hair and dark skin, features associated with stereotypes and distinguishing them from the Caucasian majority.  Furthermore, the most common forms of plastic surgery among Asian American women include procedures that minimise their distinctive facial features, such as eyelid procedures (American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 2006).

However, Marques et al. (2011) found that Caucasians are more likely to be concerned about their stomach, hips, waist and buttocks.  An explanation could be that Asian women’s actual and self-perceived body sizes tend to be closer to the thin ideal, limiting the discrepancies for comparison (Grabe & Jackson, 2009).

Asian women are also found to be less susceptible to objectification theory than Caucasian women (Grabe & Jackson, 2009).  Research has demonstrated that Asian American and Caucasian American women’s bodies are portrayed differently and with different prominence in the media (Kim & Chung, 2005).  Additionally, Jackson et al. (2016) found that Chinese women who reported that their favourite mass media came from Asian countries were more likely to judge themselves as overweight, supporting social comparison theory.  Social comparison theory and this mainstream view of a thin, idealised white woman’s body leave Caucasian women more vulnerable to self-objectification and the influence of Western media in general (Grabe & Jackson, 2009).

Ethnic Identity

Concepts of self, and consequently concepts of human differences, vary between Western and Asian cultures (Crystal et al., 1998).  The independent self, commonly found in Western cultures, seeks to distinguish the self from others, making more distinctions in competitive domains such as physical attractiveness.  Alternatively, the interdependent self, commonly found in East Asian cultures, emphasises interpersonal harmony, minimises social differences and is more likely to discriminate on behaviour than physical attractiveness.  Hence, it is commonly hypothesised that a strong ethnic identity may protect Asian women from being influenced by Western beauty standards (Croll et al., 2002; Kempa & Thomas, 2000).

However, Phan and Tylka (2006) found that ethnic identity intensified the relationship between pressure for thinness and body preoccupation (Figure 3).  This could be explained by interdependence, as family and friends are often the source of pressure for thinness, and those of strong ethnic identity may feel that their weight reflects badly on their loved ones.  Another explanation is that Asian women with strong ethnic identity may compare themselves to an Asian reference group rather than a Caucasian reference group, and may subsequently feel larger as many of their Asian peers may be petite.  
Until next time.


Thursday, 23 May 2019

Ambience, a vibe, whatever you want to call it

I guess the reason I haven't posted in a while is because I'm often inspired to write when I'm feeling somewhat... beautiful... emotional... 'edgy' if you want to be ironic about it.  My head must be a jumble of existentialism, superiority and sadness.  I'll feel like that girl wearing a satin white slip dress by the pool, who writes poetry and somehow always looks soft and perfect.  Or I could be that girl in a grey cardigan sitting in her childhood home, at the cluttered glass table with a mug of coffee and sun streaming through the blinds.  Instead I've got a headache in a dirty college room under surgical lighting, wearing an oversized t-shirt and adidas track pants, with bare feet.

And this is what I mean.

This is how my life is while I'm here in this version of home - if you can even call it that. 'home'

I've come to realise that this room has been treated like my summer camp cabin, a stopping place for me to come in and out of.  Sure, there's photos and a clutter of books, tissues and soap on the shelves, but it's not mine.  My neighbours have fairy lights, decorative pillows, scents, plants, characteristic couches -- all distinctly them, all creating a certain ambience, a vibe, whatever you want to call it.

(In the last week, with most people gone, I've been spending more time in this room.  It's given me a sense of routine, a sense of how my life was before this whole experience -- a sense of being in my own space.)

And with all my own time, I've come to realise that my person is much like my room.  My self has no ambience.  I do not smell of rose oil, or moisturise my face lavishly, or wear cute skirts while writing in my diary.  I am like a summer camp cabin who has been thrown together for the moment -- a transitional, thoughtless, self-limiting phase.

(ugh.  I feel like my vibe is the sound my poor-energy-rating fridge intermittently constantly makes in my room -- dirty and unnecessary with a lack of aesthetic)

My friend who is currently obsessed with documentaries about Roman Emperors and Michael Angelo, who wore a pearl headband to class yesterday, who somehow wears makeup without looking like she's wearing makeup, she said she's been obsessed with Lana Del Rey since she was 13.  I guess that's almost life-long cultivation of a vibe.  I feel like that takes a large amount of self-assurance from a young age.
And yet, she captioned a video "and no, I don't have a personality"

Either, or... Self love is actually having a self, and not just being influenced in all different directions. Creating ambience must be being cultured, by your own version of art or pop culture in your own way.  These things can only be discovered alone and on the internet, or through real real feelings.  Self love is looking and feeling like Kylie Jenner in her KylieSkin ads -- clean.  It's perhaps covering your pimples and not wearing pyjamas in public.  It's perhaps buying perfume and wearing it every day.  I guess what I'm trying to say is, it's emulating Dorian Grey's 'life is art'.

All I've got is a headache and a straight-laced analytic mind.  She says the same thing every day.

My friend was one minute in Sydney, the next in Mexico in a cop car, tequila tasting in tequila, covered in foam.  It's not what I need, but I thought I'd mention it.  I'll want that vibe later.

Cartia Mallan was beach hopping during sunset in an oversized band t-shirt, with her tanned boyfriend, with blankets and pillows in the boot.

Bubbles sits in the corner, watery blue eyes and blonde pigtails, saying "I am not a chubby crybaby".  I love that for some reason.  I'm not a sad girl though.  That's not self love.

My current dream is in a hotel room, with white crisp sheets, a view, and a complementary buffet breakfast on silver platters in the morning.


Thursday, 3 January 2019


Yes, I stole the word from that TV show starring Debby Ryan.  The show's a good play on words.

Impossible to satisfy

If you knew me personally, you'd know that I'm renowned for always eating food, taking photos of food, and posting said photos of food.  This trait is two-dimensional, being both a representation of my greed, and a representation of the importance I must put on what people think of me.  The thing is, this habit has gone on for so long that I simply cannot stop.  It's a ritual.  It's sickeningly satisfying.

Unhealthy habits are born on the basis of repetition.

Anyway, if there were to be a blurb under the heading of this post, it would be: "what I am learning from Malaysia".  Having not been back in two years, there are so many things I had forgotten, aside from the fact that my insatiable personality cannot stop eating food and is paying health-wise, as it has the other 18 times I've spent the summer here.

On the first night, an hour after we had landed, I sat through a dinner in which my uncle discussed my future with me (of course he did).  The conversation had an under-theme of success, money, showing off, and acting International (because god forbid we are Malaysian).  This is not rare with Asian relatives, and that night I wrote, "Perhaps it was these Asian characteristics that I was running from in the first place."  Similarly, at a Chinese dinner on New Year's Day, with all the distant relatives on my grandmother's side wearing Ralph Lauren polo shirts with absurdly large logos, a man interrogated me about whether I was doing medicine for the money, always assuming we are greedy.  My grandfather then proceeded to tell me that this man owned a company that was doing very well, but he was very quiet about it, and how noble was that! - his words

We spent New Year's Eve in a condominium with a view of the Twin Towers, with guests who all spoke English, but in different accents: Spanish, Australian, British, American, and the classic international mix you cannot quite place.  The wives and mothers were in their 50s, dressed like they were 20, saying, "Are you drunk or am I drunk?"  The men were wealthy professionals: doctors, bankers, and spoke of such.  There was a mixed boy with a British accent who looked like Nick Young, speaking of KL bars and clubs and friends who know managers, too smooth to be true.  A girl in a white jumpsuit said she would rather chat over cocktails, saying she was given a tour by the owner of the Crazy Rich Asians house, and was taking her friends Batik painting if you'd like to join.  I felt like I was in the true success story of Asia, like Peik Lin and her family would drop their cutlery and say, "Ayah! Why didn't you tell me you knew them!"  With them I felt pretty, classy, and superficial, and like I could never... switch off *in the same up tight manner my New Year's resolutions are trying to escape. (Is it in my culture's nature to never let loose?)* This is the epitome of what people in my culture seem to want, and I don't think I want it.

However, I am currently sitting beside a mini golf course and a swimming pool... in a backyard.  I have spent the last three hours sunbathing and swimming laps with a red Ferrari and a green Porsche around the corner.  I have spent the last three days using the home cinema to watch Brooklyn 99, and waking up to the sun streaming in through crisp white curtains to a balcony overlooking the pool.  I cannot say I hate it.  I cannot say that I don't have big dreams to one day have a swimming pool and a balcony and a view.

While sunbathing, I have been reading The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  The book has the recurring theme we have all heard before, that true joy does not come from materialistic things, but rather from true relationships and compassion, among other more meaningful pillars of joy.
Sometimes I wonder whether pretending that materialistic things will bring you contentment is easier, because forming true relationships and feeling true compassion is a difficult task that takes work.  I mean, evidently it takes the Dalai Lama 5 hours of prayer every morning.  Perhaps our laziness or insecurity is what makes me, and others, insatiable.


Tuesday, 1 January 2019


(written 29 December 2018)

I’m currently 4 hours into an 8 hour flight that appears to have zero entertainment, and so far, being alone with my own thoughts has appeared… well, it’s appeared like I don’t think about much at all.  That’s a good thing, considering I was toying with the idea of being more relaxed as a New Years’ Resolution.  Anyway, since we’re here, let’s do the opposite of loosen up and plan my 2019 down to the tiniest detail.

Looking back at 2018, it was a big year, with feeling sad about moving, then actually moving, then feeling independent, challenged, belonging, displaced, loneliness, and having all this overwhelming newness leave me no time to actually think and process any ideas of who I want to be.  I’ve had so many new experiences, but I haven’t had the time to process them in order to grow just yet.  So here, on a flight to disconnected, lethargic Malaysia, seems like the perfect time to analyse my experiences, write how I can do better, and post it on the Internet.


Let’s start with the classic be healthier. 
I’ve noticed that girls in my dorm are quite health-oriented, as I watch them gush over broccoli, or complain over the lack of colour in their food.  They’ll favour salads over bread rolls, and hardly ever reach for the dessert… and they’re gorgeous.  I was talking to my beautiful, long-limbed family friend on Boxing Day and she explained how she cleanses from all angles – she’ll exercise with 2 hours of dance, she’ll eat only healthy foods, and she’ll work on her skin care – it sounds so logical and simple, and it makes her feel 100 times better so she can live her best life.  And I realise, I’ve never felt that way before, because in my whole life, I’ve never actually had that healthy lifestyle.

I know, it’s easier said than done, especially considering my love for food, and my culture’s love for food, and my bringing up being in love with food. I’ve tried being healthy before, and my lack of self-control always got the better of me within the day.  This time, I need actual rules, and to simply rip the band-aid off.  The plan: No dairy and no useless white carbs unless it’s a special occasion, and exercise 5 days a week.  They say that once it’s a habit, it’s easy.  Let’s see how this goes.


Back to what I said at the beginning, be more relaxed.
Basically, I need to chill.  I want to be less eager, less rigid, and as a result more open to new people and unexpected paths.  My tunnel vision has limited me, made me seem unreasonable, and made me feel borderline obsessive on so many occasions, and it’s time to stop.  Furthermore, I’ve learned that I’m too tense to just sit back and… laugh.  I can’t remember the last time I really let loose, where I wasn’t trying to impress anyone and I was just gaga happy, high on life, saying things that don’t make sense, dying of laughter.  I need to take myself less seriously.

The plan: empty my brain.  If I limit the amount I think about whatever it is I’m obsessing over, then I’ll obsess over it less.  If I stop thinking about myself so much, maybe I’ll stop feeling like every moment needs an ulterior motive and let. loose.  I need to close my eyes and listen to music as I have on this empty-minded flight, or meditate, or go for a massage, or stretch.  I’m not sure yet, but it seems I have already put this one in action, and want to feel so completely void of expectations in the coming year.  Is a Type A personality something you can get rid of?  We’ll see.


Stop sharing gossip and personal details with the world
Leaving Sydney this year, I realised I had the awful habit of spouting gossip with whoever I talked to.  Not only that, but I realise I also spouted many embarrassing details about my own personal thoughts.  I’ve always prided myself on honesty, but perhaps being an open book isn’t what I want after all.  Perhaps as I grow older, I need to learn to keep secrets about myself and other people.  It’s like how people jokingly say, “if you didn’t snapchat it, did it really happen?”  Well, for me, it’s like “if you don’t tell anyone then did you really think it?”  It’s like my life is so… public.  I need to learn to be comfortable in my own thoughts.  The plan: start by posting less on social media, and maybe ask people about themselves before talking about myself.


Speak up more in class
One day I will have a real job, contributing ideas and having them heard, fighting my way to the top of the group to get the role I want.  In order to do that, I need to conquer the daunting prospect of putting my hand up and giving my true insightful answer, without nerves or a shaking voice.  The plan: First up, I need to actually know things prior to class, which means legitimately studying and memorising as I go.  Secondly, I should make it my task to voluntarily raise my hand at least once in every class.  There’s no better way to learn confidence than to fake it to make it, as my 15 year old self would say.


Travel more
If I’m this miserable and bored every time I think about the wide expanse of coming home for the holidays, all I need to do is be proactive and plan something.  After going to America earlier this month, I’ve established the fact that exposure to a new place is a tangible form of self-growth.  I want to go to educational conferences, adventurous contiki tours with new people, volunteer trips, and relaxing island resorts.  I’ve learned in 2018 that if you need new bed sheets, all you have to do is go to Kmart and buy some.  Is it not the same for travelling?  All you need to do is go online and book it.


Have more conversations that actually mean something
This was originally going to be, “be less of a drunken mess and get yourself together on nights out”, but I figure I’m 19 for this whole coming year, and can worry about being more mature and put together when I’m 20.  Instead, I’d like to have more meaningful conversations on nights out.  Parties and social events are the perfect time to talk to new people, or make memories with your friends, or find a boy you actually like.  I feel as if this year, I was too immature to utilize these opportunities.  I was too busy relishing this new-found exposure to a life without rules that the idea of going out was more important than the idea of connecting with people.  This year I’d like to do that differently.


Get a job
Honestly, I live the kind of life to which my parents comment, “She has no idea about the value of money.”  I thoughtlessly spend money on food, clothes and going out, and am clearly willing to throw hundreds of dollars on concerts, and thousands of dollars on trips and experiences.  It’s not that I don’t understand the value of money.  It’s that after working for 3 years, I learned the cycle of spending, and then picking up shifts if you needed more.  It was so simple.   However, in 2018 I was spending in the same manner, but taking everything out of the savings account I’d built over the years.  I need a job to live the way I do.  The plan: apply everywhere for shift work, and don’t be fussy about it.  And when next summer comes, I’ll get as many Christmas casual jobs as I can handle, in the self-sufficient manner I used to.


Be more organised
This year I have lost countless things, legitimately gotten sick from my dump of a room, and had my mother urgently express post things on numerous occasions.  By observing other people in my dorm, I’ve noticed that they treat their rooms like their home.  They think of things I found frivolous, such as colour coordination, feng shui, lighting and scents.  Needless to say, they love Kmart.  This year, I want my room to feel like my home.  The plan: I need to put thought into storage and decorations from the outset.  I also would like to become a procrasto-cleaner, if possible.

I’d say I want a fridge to store my cheese, but that conflicts with a previous resolution, which makes what I thought were simple goals for 2019 seem more difficult than anticipated.