Do you have any phobias?
I'm terrified of heights, spiders, public speaking, and math.
What would be your other career choice? (Shoutout to Taisha Alvarez, who asked this question!)
Anything where I can avoid public speaking and doing math because I am incredibly introverted, suck at long division, and have never been able to find the inverse square root of anything.
I would be a dermatologist. I'm obsessed with skincare and I love popping zits. I have a not-so-secret side hustle where I do eyelash extensions out of a salon in downtown Baltimore, and to be honest, if I could do that full-time, I would do it in a heartbeat. I have a high tolerance for tedium. It relaxes me. Also, I don't know what the job title would be, but I would love to be that person that finds material for a movie producer. So many good stories out there and so much shit being put out. (Side note: Can we please go back to the era of originality and creativity in film? Enough with the franchises and reboots.)
Are you on Tinder?
You read a lot, according to your social media. What's your favorite book?
It's a tie between World War Z and Exodus. I'm a big advocate of supporting public libraries so I borrow a lot of books from my local branch and donate lots of my own books.
What's your favorite social media platform?
If you asked me a year ago, I would have said Instagram. But Instagram is so annoying now because of the stupid algorithm and I don't see anyone's posts anymore. Switching away from chronological order has made the whole user experience pretty crappy. If Instagram wasn't such an integral part of promoting my brand, I probably would have just deleted my account a long time ago. So now my favorite platform is oddly, Twitter. It's so much more casual and conversational and I have really good engagement on there. I heard that Facebook is going to cut off all organic reach from their business pages unless you pay to boost, so that one is going to suck even more too. I have a lot to say about the state of social media so maybe I'll write a whole blog post about that in the future.
What are your favorite places to shop?
I do all my shopping online, even when I'm shopping thrift (Tip: vintage stores often have the most amazing Instagram accounts). My favorites are ASOS, Dolls Kill, Jeffrey Campbell, Aldo, Urban Outfitters, and Poshmark just to name a few.
What is the one item of clothing you will never wear?
Never say never. I forsook fanny packs years ago and now look, I wear one almost everyday. In college I said I would never wear pink and now half my wardrobe is pink. I said I would never wear bright colored eyeshadow and my most recent purchases were the Morphe 35B palette and the Too Faced Totally Cute and Peanut Butter and Jelly palettes. I don't say "never" anymore. I will say that certain items of clothing just don't work on me: polo shirts, denim jackets, windbreakers, age-appropriate clothing (all the clothing I'm drawn to is made for teenagers).
If you could cosplay as anything, which character would you go as? (Shoutout to Ranier Maningding of Love Life of an Asian Guy, who asked this question!)
10 years ago, I would have said Jem. But then a friend introduced me to Sailor Galaxia from Sailor Moon and I've been obsessed with her ever since. Elaborate headpiece? Check. Bodysuit with tiny little miniskirt? Check. Gold boots? Check. Purple eyeshadow? Check.
Which post have you been most proud of since you started Aesthetic Distance? (Shoutout to Vincent Luu, who asked this question!)
Gotta go with both Dear Asian Women, I'm Calling You Out For This One and Why Joining An MLM Will Ruin Your Life.
Give me some podcast recommendations.
I'm obsessed with horror podcasts and have been listening to everything that Parkast Media puts up: Serial Killers, Haunted Places, and Cults. I still love the OG NoSleep Podcast too. Wondery puts out a lot of great horror podcast series too, like Inside the Exorcist and Inside Psycho. I listen to NPR's Up First podcast because it's updated every morning and is only ten minutes long. It gives you the rundown of all the major headlines of the past 24 hours. Shameless plug: Escape from Plan A, which is where me and the Plan A Magazine team talk about how current events, pop culture and sociopolitical issues affect us as Asian Americans. We also have a series on dating, which is where the rest of the answers to this AMA can be found.
What's your dream collaboration?
Ooh, hard question! There are so many! Ok, for clothing, Balmain or Kenzo. For beauty, I would love to collab with Too Faced Cosmetics or Pony Makeup.
I want to start blogging so I can make some side cash. What should I blog about?
Okayyyyy. I get asked this question a lot and the truth is, if you start blogging about something you have no passion for and you just want to make money, I would seriously consider a different side hustle. In order to make money from blogging, you need a (large) loyal following that trusts you. In order to build a loyal following that trusts you, you need to have a message and be consistent about posting. People don't like to be sold to so if you start out like that, you're going to have a difficult time building up a following. I love and wear a lot of ASOS and Urban Outfitters clothing and featured those brands (from my own closet and paid for with my own money) on my blog and Instagram for years before I started getting sponsorship. It takes a long time to build a successful blog brand that you can monetize. There is no easy way around it.
That said, these are the ways bloggers make money*:
- Consultation (usually photography, social media strategy and brand management)
- Affiliate links
- Sponsored content
- Brand collaborations
- Marketing campaigns
- Product sales
- Speaking engagements and event hosting
- Advertisements on blog
I've done all of these and I prefer some more than others. With the amount of bloggers and influencers out there, the competition is super high. So you need to be disproportionately better than the average in order to get noticed and paid for doing this. Find your expertise and interest and work from there.
Do you work out?
I rollerskate. I got really into rollerskating culture last year and fell in love with it. I tried the gym thing and it wasn't for me. I tried working out on my own at home and found that it was too boring. Through rollerskating, I've made lots of friends and now I can't live without it. The trick to sticking with a workout is to find a physical activity you can actually enjoy and you don't dread doing. The good news is that there are so many options out there for every kind of lifestyle and each has its own culture to go along with it.
Coffee or tea?
Tea all the way! Honestly, I don't drink coffee at all because I don't know how to order it. Everything is so complicated. I worked at Starbucks for three whole weeks back in college and that's when I learned that 1) I don't like the way coffee tastes, no matter how much sugar, cream or syrup you put in it, 2) I cannot tell a good cup of coffee from a bad cup of coffee and 3) they open way too early. Tea is much simpler. It's basically just fancy water.
I really like all your outfits on your blog and Instagram. How would you describe your personal style?
I have no idea. I definitely have a 70s rock n roll vibe with some 90s hip hop and early 80s MTV thrown in. I tend to be drawn to a high-low mix and I love pulling inspiration from vintage, playing with color combinations and mixing and matching textures. My favorite thing to do is to wear pieces that necessarily wouldn't go together. Like socks and fingerless gloves with an evening gown. Or a fur stole with bike shorts.
What fashion collaborations are you looking forward to?
What superpower would you want to have?
Telepathy. Like Charles Xavier. Or shapeshifting, like Loki.
Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to bloggers and the blogger community?
Bloggers getting book deals. I've read a bunch of their books and so many of them suck. For example, I wanted so badly to like Lilly Singh's and Michelle Phan's books but they were so bland and boring!
Can you do more skincare and makeup reviews?
Sure. In fact, I just published what's in my makeup bag this winter last week and I'll be putting out more beauty-based blog posts in the coming months. If you follow my Instagram Stories, I already post a lot of reviews in there.
I'm thrilled to see someone share my views on racism in this country, especially in regard to Asian Americans. What shaped your views on this, and what do you think the path is moving forward?
It took years of self-reflection to get me to where I am now. I realized just how much of a postcolonial mindset permeated my perspective growing up. There is so much internal struggle when you are one of the few minority people of color in school, in your town, and in your social circle outside of family. I would say I had a lot of self-loathing growing up, and that sickens me now. So much of it was a product of assimilationism—trying to fit into a white-dominant culture with the only other alternative being black culture and hip hop. This is something that a lot of second generation Asian-Americans deal with. Our parents moved to white neighborhoods and put us in majority white schools, and gave us the tools to succeed academically and economically, But socially, we were left on our own to figure out our own identities. After having a child and Trump getting elected, my Asian-American identity, specifically, my Filipino-American identity, started to make more sense to me. I started seeing things outside of a black/white race paradigm. I also started participating more in Asian-American online spaces and conversations about Asian American issues. And now that I'm editor at Plan A Magazine, I can take a step back and see how far I've come.
Asian Australian YouTuber, Natalie Tran, just released this fantastic video about the White Man/Asian Woman relationship dynamic, an extremely sensitive and hot button topic that is at the center of many Asian issues. Teen Sheng of Plan A Magazine was a consultant on this documentary. The path moving forward is to seek Asian American cohesion. There is a lot of intra-Asian struggle as well as tension between the genders that needs to be acknowledged before we can mend things and start working together toward common goals. I really think this video is a step in the right direction.
Something I've learned in the past year is how Asian feminists need to reexamine their intersectionality. To quote Oxford Kondo: The traditional models of thoughts in white feminism--with white men holding every lever of power over white women--just don't work for Asian Americans. We need a new framework.
*Source: Independent Fashion Bloggers.
If you asked a dating question, it was answered by me and the guys from Plan A Magazine in the podcast below! Check out our podcast, subscribe and leave a (glowing, 5-star) review. If you like this format, I'll be doing it again for Ask Me Anything Part V!
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