What began as a small project with a black and white mouse named Pineapple has since grown from a daily makeup post to a lifestyle philosophy.
From an early age I found fascination with appearance through makeup, costume, and style. I played with makeup, built Halloween (as well as movie premiere and eventually cosplay) wearables, and evolved through my personal timelines of fashion. However, at the end of the day, it was about so much more than the clothes on my back or the color on my face.
The way we look, unfortunately, holds a great deal of power over how the world interacts with us, perceives us, and limits us. As a biracial Korean American who spent my entire life not fitting in anywhere - being constantly stared at, asked 'what am I,' and so on - I began to incorporate bolder, more colorful and eccentric looks.
Appearance is hard, because there are so many fundamental elements we can't control. Ethnicity, biases based on gender, body type, socioeconomic background, and beyond. I want to stress that my philosophy on how I approach my looks and style is what I have found works for me and makes me feel empowered and connected to my identity. If anything, I want to offer my experiences as a helpful guide should you find it resonates with or even inspires you.
When I begun to first start introducing more artistic and symbolic elements into my makeup, it was from a place of defiance. If people are going to look, why not give them something to look at? Appearance, makeup, and style as a form of protest and defiance is not only a powerful personal tool, it has a long and compelling history. The one caveat in my personal story, is that during this initial time I still wore these looks like a mask to protect myself and keep the world at bay. Internally, I still held a lot of insecurity and fear, questions about my worth, and uncertainty about who I am at the end of the day. And to be fair, I still face a lot of the same struggles! While I strive to continue the journey of learning and growth the best that I can, I - like many of us, I believe - am a constant work in progress (just ask my therapist ;}).
I will be the first to openly acknowledge that I started my style journey with privilege in the form of a mother who was a hair stylist and beautician (plus just very stylish woman) whom I both watched and directly taught me about her processes. Additionally, I have had the positive reinforcement in my life that I am naturally slender and have what many consider to be attractive facial features. Plus, as I stated earlier, the biracial uniqueness of ethnicity that allows me to even at a baseline visually differ from those around me (a blessing for my performer's side and a curse for the side riddled with social anxiety).
At the end of the day - and I cannot stress this enough - every human being on the planet can shine whether they want to put on rad makeup, dress in something that flatters the hell out of whatever figure they rock, and more. However, we are shaped very deeply by the reinforcement we receive. If we are told over and over and/or from early on we are unattractive, dull, ugly, unworthy, or whatever other terribly negative things shape our psyche, it can be incredibly difficult to break free from the shape of those bonds. (Much less the blind input from media on what is valued, what is beautiful, and what matters).
And that said, I want to deliberately take a moment to say that you, - yes, you, right there, right now - you are beautiful. You are valued. You matter. You make the world a better place by being in it, and you are meant to shine.
Even coming from a history of positive physical affirmation, I have found myself falling into the existential trap of wondering if that is wherein my value lies. Do I have worth merely because I was blessed with the right set of genetics by society's fickle standards? (A feat in which I took no part nor have control).
And 'control' really becomes woven into my philosophy because - as I said a bit earlier - there is a lot about our appearance that we have no control over but are judged for nonetheless. Admittedly with style there are levels to which we are limited, financial constraints, for example, however even with challenges we can still thrive. (To speak to that specific example, for instance, I cannot tell you how much I adore thrift shopping and deal finding - but that's a post for another day ^^). Using what is within our reach, though, the way we adorn and carry ourselves is something we can control, and when that power leads to positive strength that, my loves, is empowerment.
In my own journey, it took some time during which I continued to play with my looks in tandem with my exploration of identity, road along mental wellness, and soul searching before I really began to manifest my looks as an outer expression of self. I truly believe there is something special about the radical demonstration of self in a world that encourages uniformity but desperately hungers for authenticity.
I've found that the more I've continued to play and push my boundaries of comfort with appearance and style, the more I've found colors within myself that I didn't realize were there. Strengths, fiercenesses, sorrows, fears, lines and images that needed the space to be heard. Art through the guise of something seemingly more 'superficial' at surface level that could allow a depth to come bubbling up in unexpected and surprising ways.
It is still a path that I am forging, but one in which my ambition is to encourage others to push their boundaries in the comfort zones of their own daily lives - appearance, story, style - to truly, authentically, and unapologetically shine, as well as offer the guidance and insight from things that I've learned along the way. It's one hell of a journey but truly a sight to behold.