Musing: How a Foodie Cured My “Weight Loss Blues”?

If you love to visit The New York Times, Mashable, The Guardian, or any similar websites to catch up about what is happening in the world, you must have noticed the”A4 Paper Challenge” buzz trending in China few days ago. If you’ve not got a chance to check it out, don’t think it could be something similar with the “Ice Bucket Challenge”.

What is “A4 Paper Challenge”? It was how people proof themselves as paper thin by posting photos of themselves, with hiding their waist behind a vertical A4 paper, like this:waist1_1

Few weeks before this challenge went wild online, “Belly Button Challenge” was another trendy phenomenon to check how skinny a girl is by “bending their arms around in order to touch their belly button and ‘reverse”.

Apparently, the standard of beauty in majority of Asian countries tend to value “skinny” over “sporty”. Instead of the tight muscle plus tanned skin tone, what’ve been featured on the media or in the department store are those whitening skincare products, or those mysterious detoxing and weight loss recipes.

How these things should be related to my story?

Back to the summer of 2013, my weight peaked around 140 pounds. That might be seen as a quite normal weight for a girl heighten 5.5 in Western culture, yet as you can tell from those challenges, I am a “plus size girl” if being judged by an Asian.

It was a normal summer night before the final exam, I finished my study, got on my way from the library to the parking lot. Suddenly I heard my name being called by a guy. As I turned around, it was a friend of mine that chatting with a group of his friends. After saying hi and  a brief conversation to catch up, I decided to head to my car.

“She looks stocky like a female basketball player, or like an ox!”, my friend said to his friends.

I didn’t try to turn around to argue for anything, instead I got on my car, like nothing happened.

Right after I got back home, I put down my bag and laid myself down on the sofa. I can’t remember if that was the 500 or the 501 times I heard people judging my body shape. Not all of them were negatively; but this time, I felt hurt, as being judged like a commodity in front of the crowd of people. That was also the moment I decided to lose weight.

By strictly control my diet (I only ate 5 pieces of whole wheat bread, a glass of fat-free milk and some veggies, per day), plus physical exercised on daily basis, I lost 20 pounds in that summer. Frankly speaking, that was the first time ever in my life that I could be so dedicated about something.

I never know the 20 pounds I lost could make myself look that different. When the new semester began following that summer, many of my friends who came across me on campus asked me cautiously to see if I was having a hard time or suffering from some illness. Yes, I look different drastically.

But the more compliments I got from the surroundings, the more I questioned myself for the motivation to lose weight. Am I simply a superficial girl who only cares about what other people say? I could no longer feel the joy for eating my favorite Madeleine cookies, because the calories could let go the effort I put in the gym; I could no longer dine out with my best friends, because I had to restrict myself being a vegetarian; The more compliments I got, the more I wanted myself to look skinnier. It was almost like an abnormal cycle that dragged me down to the bottom.

I started to experience the reversed “Weight Loss Blues”, not because my weight stopped to drop down, but for the depression after I realized how much I care about other peoples’ judgments. Ironically, the depression I felt made me almost lost my appetite, I became skinnier and skinnier (My girl friends got jealous about this, a lot…).

It was not until the day I came across an Instagram account called “Girl Eat World” and saw this picture of takoyaki, I got my appetite back!

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Takoyaki, a Japanese snack cooked in special pan, ball-like shape. normally filled with diced octopus, tempura, lettuce.

Melissa first started this Instagram account just for recording her journey from a perspective as a foodie, yet she’s never imagined that her photos triggered thousands of comments and likes on Instagram.

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For each destination Melissa (real name of “Girl Eat World”) gets, she will take a picture of the most famous local food, with a background of the most well-known landmark. 

Not only for those adorable pictures and delicious stuff included in the photos, but for how much impacts this girl could make by sharing her foodie spirits with the world. Finally, I became realize that you never know how much love have the other people devoted to the things that you try to escape from or even hate for.

Not surprisingly, I rushed out from my home to a Japanese restaurant. That was the best-tasted takoyaki I’ve ever had in my life.

Yes, I gained a lot of weight after I picked up my appetite, but I enjoy the feeling of eating freely, without unnecessary worry about how much calories I just ate, how much hours should I spend in the gym today.

Yes, the definition of beauty varied, from person to person, from culture to culture; but being judged based on how much one weight, should not be the universal rule.

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Now, Melissa is in my favorite getaway destination, with my favorite Japanese ice cream Taiyaki. 

 

 

 

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The Beauty of Phone Screens

Let’s take a breath and see the beauty of, not fashion or women, but the beauty of phone screens.

During the class period, my teacher showed a sound slide depicted a Chinese society ball at a local hotel. We were yet sort of shocked by how sticky the young people are with their mobile phones in the second slide.

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Millennials of China growing up in this era, is the generation being forced to confront with drastic economic boom, world view transformation; at the same it is the generation living with the greatest anxiety.

In the late 1900s, after Deng’s presence in front of the world’s public eye as the president of PRC took place, series of economic reforms were brought up by the Chinese government for the purpose of reviving the soft power of this nation. That was the time when China truly opened up its front gate to the world, gradually building up economic and cultural connections with the world.

What might be the drawback of this overwhelming economic prosperity? I can still recall how rare it was to see my father staying at home back to my childhood years. Because of the booming economic growth in the South of China, millions of people chose to head to the South and initiate their own business, which left little or even no time to take care for the families. Consequently, the 20s were growing up with less accompany of parents or family members, but more with screens. From the TV screen, to the mobile phone screen, Chinese millennials are getting much more addicted than ever to counteract the sense of loneliness and anxiety caused by the lack of expected presence of family members. Study shows that the average time Chines millennials spend online each week is 27 hours, which is 7 hours more than the amount of time consumed by U.S. millennials.  To eliminate the unhealthy reliance on phone, variety of methods were being introduced in China.

Briefly concluded, never feel rare to see groups of Chinese playing with their phone. The beauty of staying connected with the rest of the world could counteract the loneliness!

Monetization of Beauty Blogs

How do fashion bloggers make money? This is the question I’ve doubted for thousands of times after reading and watching tons of incredible works devoted by people living. The first three weeks of running a beauty blog could be full with excitement, but such glamour of labeling oneself as a “blogger” never comes easy. Each time I force myself to sit in front of the screen, I find myself struggled with what content to generate. Thus it is easy to picture how much efforts one needs to devote to if trying to make this as a living. After some in-depth research I did online, following are the few ways fashion bloggers live  on their own:

  • High-Quality Contents–Yes, yes, yes. This is the No.1 rule to follow, not only for beauty blogs but any content-oriented mediums, no matter beauty blogs or beauty vlogs. Other than keeping the content in a professional manner, building up a blog with new findings and observations are necessary, even mandatory. Novelty wears off easily as more and more beauty bloggers involve in, this is especially true when you browse on YouTube to see the thousands of videos covering contents with very similar contents. Search for the buzz make-up tutorials “Contouring and Highlighting”, you can see 223, 000 results laying in front of you. The first step of monetization is generating great quality with high level of originality so that the other people could recognize one’s expertise or uniqueness. If a beauty blogger is merely repeating the same contents “copied and pasted” from others, a greater chance the audience click on the red exit button on the page.

 

  • Get Yourself Famous–Don’t underestimate this. A great blog is constitutes with not only high-quality content, but also incredible amount of efforts on distributing the content. “Good Wine Needs No Bush” is the falsest advice ever. This Forbes article could give you a sense of how to get more viewers keep on engaging. Why get famous? Because no matter how wealthy you are, trying on new skincare and make up products always need money, money and money. We’d better make the brands get their eyes on us so that we could be sponsored from them! A vivid example would be how the newly released beauty brand “Glossier” tried to sponsor varieties of bloggers to promote their products. Simply stated, “I get the money to make your products being visible on my blog or channel, you get your products famous among my followers”. Fair enough?

Christine, known as “chrissstttiiine” on YouTube as a beauty vlogger, “reviewing” Glossier products by producing this collaborative video. 

Margret Zhang’s collaboration with Uniqlo for SS 14

Single Women Are Not Beautiful in Chinese’ Eyes?

What does it mean to be single if you are about to hit the age of 25 or above?Interpretation of this social phenomenon could be very differently across cultures. In China, the country insists on advocacy for confucianism that emphasizes the importance of “being a part of family” and “marriage”, “sheng nv (剩女)” is an unique terminology  first being introduced on social networks  and finally  popularized among the public, which refers to unmarried females over the age of 25. Unlike the Chinese leftover we’ve always craving for, “sheng nv” is embedded with relative negative association with being left alone.

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SK-II is a known as a luxury Asian beauty line owned by world industry leader P&G. Recently it initiated its ad campaign in mainland China, which symbolized SK-II’s official landing in this giant consumer market. Even though SK-II has aroused thousands of female enthusiasts for its quality products, yet this is the first ever tailor-made massive campaign being made specifically for Chinese market. Interestingly, the theme of this deputy campaign is “sheng nv”, a buzz controversial topic aroused in domestic market. You can see the unique social phenomenon such as  “marriage park”, where unmarried men and women’s parents try to find suitable marriage partner for their children by exchanging these young peoples’ photo and basic information.

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Shanghai Marriage Park, a lady is looking for the perfect partner for her child by browsing tons of A4 papers with “candidates” background information.

“Leftover women” in China are literally facing severe social pressure and judgements from the surroundings, as it implied a woman’s unsuccessful management of one’s romantic life. As being depicted in this campaign ad,  “incomplete” is the word this culture used to describe if women do not get married. Yet as the changing dynamic of work-life balance and women’s “Lean In” into the work place, this negative association being bundled with Chinese women is gradually erased. SK-II tries to illustrate how the perception of being “leftover” could be switched to the positive side. “Sheng nv” could be powerful, could be loving for life, and could be confident. Product placement in this ad was so implicit that you are merely able to see a SK-II logo, yet it punched perfectly to the spotlight of this social phenomenon and telling stories of real people to motivate Chinese women in the modern age to embrace this kind of beauty of being “left alone”.

*This blog is the blog with video I missed to post last week, substitutable with the “video to cover an event” blog post.

Facts about the Beauty of Geisha

Geisha (艺妓) is a group of unique Japanese female professionals that live their lives as entertainers, mastering variety of traditional performing skills such as singing, dancing, tea ceremony, and gaming.  What hides behind the mysterious white-make up and costume of kimono is the absolute elegance and traditions Geisha girls embodied with.rc-舞妓-Maiko

Dancing, singing, gaming , drinking, and even the ability to entertain customers through conversations, are the primary skills a geisha girl needs to master. To be fully qualified as a Geisha, girls are required to undergo years of training at specialized institutions. Prior to Geisha, one normally needs to become a Maiko (dance girl) first at the early years of her career, so that she could enjoy more expertise and reputation. Geisha girls enjoy their “best age of career” around 30.

Geisha girls are well-known not only for their unique professional skills and mysterious about their life behind the scene, but also for their flawless skin condition. Since Geishas often perform in a close distance with audience, therefore it is clear to tell if a Geisha has great skin or not. As being considered as the representation of youth and purity, a Geisha normally enjoys better reputation if she has greater skin. Therefore the beauty industry has been fascinated about the secrets of Geisha’s beauty and skin care rituals. We can even see industry-leading brands like Shisedo and Tatcha borrowing tons of Geisha concepts to cater for female consumers’ admiration for having great skin condition like Geisha girls do. Following are a 3 well-known secrets of Geisha’s skin care rituals:

  1. Stay Away from the Sunlight: The profession of Geisha could be traced back to the 1800s that no modern science and technologies exist, yet for sake of covering their face with white make-up easily, Geisha girls often prefer to stay away from the sunlight as possible as they could. Out of our expectation, this belief has been proved scientifically to be effective on maintaining great skin condition.
  2. Cleansing Face carefully on a daily bases: Cleansing is the first and most critical step for Geisha girls in order to keep their face away from the damages of white make-up.
  3. Polishing Skin is Equally Important as Cleansing: By polishing skin, skin care products could show their best final results on one’s face.

Keeping Beauty Expenditure on a College Budget.

As being brought up in an Asian family, knowing exactly where my money flows to is always the No.1 thing top on the to-to list for each month. Since March just ended, so my budget review happened over the past weekend. Here is the result:

  • Food: $197.4
  • Grocery: $45.80
  • Rent: $699
  • Gas: $30
  • Beauty/ Skincare: $143
  • Total: $1115.2

For majority of college student group, rent and food expenditure are the two largest basket our money flow to. But what shocked me was the total amount for beauty/ skincare products. Recently I am experimenting with new products, yet I didn’t realize it could cost these much until I did my calculation on my note pad.

Beauty expenditure could only get higher and higher, since once I started taking this as my biggest hobby, just like how my mom’s enthusiasm goes to cooking Chinese cuisine, I could only see myself spending more and more each time. This turns out to be not rare among students group, but smart girls knows how to manage her budget smartly. Therefore I decided to meet up with one of my old friend Yixuan, who is currently an actuarial science student at Purdue. Because of her educational background as analyzing and assessing financial/ insurance status all the time, she devotes her personal leisure time as well to manage her daily expenditure on the right track. Yixuan is interested in skincare rather than make-up products.

 

Basically Yixuan keeps her beauty and skincare budget around $350~400 per year. Instead of following the hype, she is quite good at keeping her self disciplined about spending money on beauty products. College students, especially Asian group, do care about skin condition and make-up. But when it comes to paying that money from your own pocket, it is not only about looking great, but keeping track of how much you spend as well.

As Yixuan said, she noticed that Asian students around her normally spend more on personal care and beauty, when we compare them to domestic students. As she indicated, international students normally don’t need to worry that much about supporting oneself financially, since their parents normally allow them with extra money to invest on skin care. In Asian culture, skin care is normally considered as a long-term investment. That pretty much explains why plastic surgical is such a trending thing in South Korea, even though it always comes with a sky-high price.

 

April 1st Pranks (Fashion Folks Edition)

Pranks never ceased during this special occasion of the year. Let’s take a look at this year’s April. 1st’ best pranks, for fashion lovers.

How to Style a Trash Bag

My favorite beauty YouTuber Jenn Im surprised me again with her newly uploaded video: “Styling a Trash Bag”. If you are a YouTube enthusiastic like me, you must have subscribed to several channels that you love for the most, and always have yourself wait in front of your laptop each Friday to enjoy the YouTube videos. Last night was the first time I felt myself about to click on the red exit button when Jenn’s new video got available to watch, since I am a 21 credit hours student struggling with finals, and want my every single watching experience to be as useful as it could be, thus a video titled with “Styling a Trash Bag” is definitely not what I might need in my daily life.

Surprisingly, I turned out to love Jenn’s idea so much that I even want to rush to my kitchen and try out this experiment. She used a white trash bag and a black trash bag, cut out two pieces of cloth, and styled them in the way she loves. Check out these two outfit with  $0.09 budget!

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If you’ve got a chance to visit this website (which has already be disabled since April’ 1st already past), you will see Zuckerberg as the endorser for the famous fashion brand H&M for this season. Ironically, the concept of this “collaboration” really underlies the trending “minimalist” theme–least use of color, accentuates on looking clean and natural. If you can recall from my previous blog “Symbolic Meaning of Outfit“, you know what this Facebook chief executive officer put on his body for IPO day. One inspiring idea about this mock-up campaign is Zuckerberg’s opinion being held towards outfit . To save that extra time for greater things, he claimed “dressing in the same way allows him to focus his energy on more important decisions at work. 

 

Hair Pieces for Your Cat

Cat owner? Check out the newly released “Meow-Moe” from Whiskers-N-Wigs. This is a stylish feline hair piece for your cat, fresh off the boat from Japan. Don’t like the black color one? Different styles and colors available, but only on the April 1st. This prank was being displayed on the website of broadcast company Evine. Seriously I hope this item could be rolled back on the rack after seeing the adorable special guest wearing it.

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