The One Thing No One is Talking About in This Photo

So Singapore’s National Day is coming up (9th August), and people are getting ready to celebrate her 52nd birthday. It usually involves putting together a red and white outfit, and recently this picture has been making the rounds on Facebook:

Folks expressed their unhappiness over the choice of models in the photo, seeing that three out of four appear to be Caucasian. They pointed out that it wasn’t an accurate depiction of Singapore’s ethnic composition of “Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Other”, which means that only one of the models should be allowed to look vaguely white.

Whatever your stance is on the issue, take it elsewhere. I’m here to talk about a detail that I noticed just this morning. Now I can never unsee it, and neither should you.

Take a look at their collars:

Don’t see it yet?

Who wears polo tees buttoned all the way up? The woman and girl in the photo, apparently. That’s not how polo tees are usually worn. Sure, the top button wants to feel just as useful as its neighbour, and if that’s really your preference, go right ahead. Maybe both female models really do prefer to wear their tees in that manner.

What I find interesting is that the man and boy are wearing their respective tees the usual way, i.e. doing up just one button. So what we have here is this image – the male models end up exposing a little more neck, while the female models are more covered up.

I could be wrong, but my gut feeling tells me that this was deliberate styling. You know what it looks like to me? This ad is sending a message to us all, saying that women and girls should be modest and cover up at every given opportunity, while men and boys are not subject to the same expectations.

Am I overreacting? Possibly. But it’s not “just an ad”. There are countless ads and images out there that spread a similar message. (Yes, there are also others that have a completely different message, where cleavage is used to sell just about everything, but let’s save that for another argument.)

Most of you reading this will probably think that it’s just how the world works, and being angry about it won’t change anything. But here’s something to think about – people were quick to zoom in on the “whiteness” of the models, but no one has any issues with how the tees are worn differently by the male and female models. Sure, it’s a minor detail when that’s all you’re looking at, but it’s indicative of a bigger picture.

Most people aren’t afraid to call out racism. We know not to use racial slurs, and if someone has made inappropriate comments, they are promptly corrected. On the other hand, sexism is present in our everyday lives, but it isn’t as easily recognised and called out. Policing how women and girls should dress and behave is just one example. We have to sit with our knees together and our skirts can’t be too short. If we attract unwanted attention in public, somehow people think it’s okay to comment that we’re “asking for it”. I could go on and on, but I haven’t got all day.

So next week, when you’re reciting the pledge and thinking about how we’re equal “regardless of race, language, or religion”, don’t forget gender equality too.

10 Ways to Embrace Your Inner Goddess

Hello everyone! This month, I’m taking a break from setting goals, and I’ve decided to do something a little different. The theme for August (and possibly the rest of the year) will be how to embrace one’s inner goddess. Like the studious geek that I am, the library was the first stop for research.

“The Goddess Guide” is a delicious manual full of lifestyle tips (style, beauty, home, travel, joie de vivre) for any woman (or man) seeking to get the most out of life, and that’s where I drew most of my inspiration from, and you’ll see more in the list below. “Naming the Goddess” is a series of essays featuring a myriad of actual goddesses, from Artemis to Kwan Yin to Sekhmet. One of my goals in July was to “embrace spirituality”, and this book is as good a starting point as any. It’s not exactly relevant to today’s post, but I just thought I’d share what’s on my reading list at the moment.

So before you get impatient with my rambling, here are ten ways to embrace your inner goddess:

  1. Get carried away by great works of fiction
  2. Surround yourself with art that you love
  3. Take lots of photographs, capture the beauty around you
  4. Go green
  5. Light a scented candle (or several)
  6. Delight in dark chocolate
  7. Savour breakfast
  8. Take a day off social media from time to time
  9. Invest in luxurious sleepwear
  10. Be mindful of the present

Is there anything you would add to the list? What inspires you? Let me know in the comments below!

Goals for July 2017

We are officially in the second half of 2017, and it’s been a roller coaster ride, to say the least. A lot’s been happening, and I don’t quite know how to put it in words at the moment.

Still, it’s the first day of a new month, and here I am, like clockwork. So my goals for July 2017 are:

  1. Buy only the essentials
  2. Track daily spending
  3. Remember to use sunscreen and bug spray
  4. Experiment with summer hairstyles
  5. Create a morning routine
  6. Cook dishes inspired by other parts of the world
  7. Embrace spirituality
  8. Begin an investment plan
  9. Embark on the KonMari project
  10. Set aside time to play

I’m going to leave this as it is, for now at least. In the meantime, thanks for sticking with me.

Goals for June 2017

Another month, another set of goals! I’ve been reading “Better Than Before” by Gretchen Rubin, so this month’s goals are going to be more specific and measurable than those of previous months. Even then, they’re rather ambitious, but you know me – shoot for the stars!

  1. Meditate for five minutes every day
  2. Go for a run or swim every Thursday
  3. Shower before 10:30 every night
  4. Go for a walk every Wednesday and Sunday
  5. Visit the library every Monday
  6. Take a photograph every day
  7. Work on the blog for one hour every day
  8. Study French for 30 minutes every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday
  9. Draw a doodle a day
  10. Cut back on carbs

The way I’ve framed my goals for this month, they look rather repetitive and not particularly attractive, but hopefully they’ll work – we shall see!

Once again, a recap of last month’s goals:

  • Adopt a high-protein diet (as per doctor’s orders) – managed to do okay with this, and it’s helped so much, so I’m going to keep it up as best I can.
  • Cut back on sugar – while I still had the occasional ice-cream or cookie, my sugar intake was reduced significantly, and after a while it didn’t bother me too much. I’ll never quit sugar entirely, and hopefully I’ll never have to, but it’s nice not to have cravings for sweet stuff all the time.
  • Keep a food diary – done! It really helped with the first two goals.
  • Cook my own meals as much as possible – been watching lots of cooking shows on TV (mostly Masterchef Australia), so getting inspiration wasn’t an issue.
  • Exercise at least twice a week – this is where I’ve fallen short, yet again. Managed to exercise just five times last month.
  • Take on a 30 day happiness challenge – did slightly better than the previous month’s exercise challenge, but still didn’t manage to do all 30 days.
  • Find ways to increase productivity – does reading “Better Than Before” count?
  • Dress more consciously – adopted a “less is more” approach for the month of May, which helped a bit in the mornings.
  • Simplify my makeup routine – yes, in fact some days I hardly wore any makeup. Won’t be doing that this month though – between birthday celebrations and attending events, there’ll be lots of occasions to bring out the war paint!
  • Organise my desk/dressing table – (mostly) done!

So yes, June is my birthday month, and making time to achieve all my goals might be a bit of a challenge, but I’m up for it, and let’s hope I make it with my sanity intact. I’ll be back soon with more posts – see you!

Goals for May 2017

I can’t believe it’s already May! Just last week it was still chilly, but now the sun is finally shining. It’s technically springtime, but here in Hong Kong, it’s starting to feel like summer!

I haven’t blogged in almost two weeks as I was under the weather for quite a while. Honestly, being in so much pain and discomfort isn’t fun at all, and I really, really need to get healthier. With this in mind, several of my goals for this month will be focused on health and wellness.

  1. Adopt a high-protein diet (as per doctor’s orders)
  2. Cut back on sugar
  3. Keep a food diary
  4. Cook my own meals as much as possible
  5. Exercise at least twice a week
  6. Take on a 30 day happiness challenge
  7. Find ways to increase productivity
  8. Dress more consciously
  9. Simplify my makeup routine
  10. Organise my desk/dressing table

And now, a recap of last month’s goals:

  1. Take on a 30 day challenge – it was supposed to be a simple stationary exercise challenge, but I managed to do just 7 days before losing steam.
  2. Learn basic Japanese – downloaded a couple of apps, and now I know all of three phrases: “hajimemashite” (how do you do), “kochirakoso” (same here), and “kore wa nan desu ka” (what is this). I can also read and write maybe 30 hiragana characters, which isn’t exactly helpful until I have the whole thing memorised. I do hope to keep going with this, slow as my progress may be!
  3. Try a new recipe – done! Made salted egg yolk fish skins, not bad for a first attempt. I’ve also since attempted a new recipe for meatballs, going to try making a sweet and spicy sauce for dinner later this evening!
  4. Read (and complete) a classic novel – done! Read “Mansfield Park” by Jane Austen, and I’ve got the ‘gram to back it up.
  5. De-clutter apartment – it’s a work in progress, that’s all I can say.
  6. Find new ways to wear old things – maybe? Honestly I can’t remember.
  7. Sleep before midnight – failed quite miserably at this one, but in my defence, I did sleep before 12.30am on most nights.
  8. Plant some seeds (and subsequently try to keep the plant alive) – nope, I did buy the seeds though.
  9. Post at least one more beauty review on the blog – didn’t achieve this one as well, but it’s in the backlog, and hopefully I’ll be able to do it this month!
  10. Appreciate nature – yes!

5 Trends I Just Don’t Get

I’d like to start off by saying that I have absolutely nothing against anyone who wears any of the items listed below. If you love these fashion trends, good for you! I just happen to find the following things perplexing:

1. Choker Sweaters

“I want to keep my neck warm but my décolletage must be visible at all times, never mind the cold. Also, my elbows aren’t dry enough and need to be aired.”

2. Cold Shoulder Tops/Dresses

This trend is everywhere. It seems like everyone and their mother has one of these, but I simply don’t get it. If it’s warm enough to bare your shoulders, it’s warm enough to bare your arms. Maybe it’s got the look of an off-shoulder top but feels more secure due to the two straps holding it up? From the way some of these are cut, you’d have to wear a strapless bra underneath. Where’s the fun in that?

3. Distressed Jeans

Another insanely popular trend that I don’t understand. I’d never spend money on an article of clothing that looks like it’s been in an accident.

Also, because ripping apart perfectly good denim isn’t enough, pairing said denim with fishnet stockings is now apparently a thing.

4. Sheer Dresses

I don’t mind those romantic see-through dresses that are meant to be worn over slips, but the casual variety boggles my mind. This outfit would have been perfectly fine if it were just the T-shirt, jeans, and boots. (I’m even willing to overlook the distressed denim bit.) But let’s throw a sheer asymmetrical dress on top, because… fashion?

5. T-shirts Under Slip Dresses

To me, it looks like a stop-gap solution for when you want to wear a slip dress but don’t want to compromise on modesty. It’d seem a lot easier to just get a T-shirt dress. Less laundry to deal with.

Bonus feature!

Nude Shoes with Black Stockings

I’m not listing this as a trend because it doesn’t appear to be one, although it apparently was a thing back in 2010, and even SJP did this back in the day. It’s also something that I see every single time I head to to Central and some OL (Office Lady) sports this look, and it looks more accidental than intentional. Nude shoes are meant to elongate the legs, and bare legs at that. A similar effect can be achieved with black stockings and black shoes, so why deviate from a tried-and-true formula?

Well, as much as I don’t understand these trends, it seems like some of them are here to stay. Okay, end of rant! This is a sure sign that I have become a cranky old lady who complains about what others are wearing. Still, this was all done in good humour, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the post. I’ll try to get at least one more up before going on holiday, so stay tuned!

Goals for April 2017

  1. Take on a 30 day challenge
  2. Learn basic Japanese
  3. Try a new recipe
  4. Read (and complete) a classic novel
  5. De-clutter apartment
  6. Find new ways to wear old things
  7. Sleep before midnight
  8. Plant some seeds (and subsequently try to keep the plant alive)
  9. Post at least one more beauty review on the blog
  10. Appreciate nature

While we’re at it, here’s a little recap of my goals in March:

  1. Blog at least 3 times a week – Started off great, then gradually lost momentum, which wasn’t surprising. However, I did manage to blog a total of 9 times last month, which wasn’t too bad.
  2. Clear “backlog” for blog content – Done!
  3. Use the blender – Nope, my blender sits unused for yet another month.
  4. Learn + revise Mandarin/Traditional Chinese writing – Did some light reading, but otherwise I didn’t make much progress.
  5. Take dance lessons again – Edwin and I are currently taking Tango and Rumba lessons every Wednesday. It’s just once a week for now, but it’s a good start.
  6. Stretch every day – Failed miserably at this. I really should stretch more often, especially given how sore I get after every dance lesson.
  7. Take more photos – Yes, now if I can only remember that it’s now possible to upload multiple photos on Instagram at once!
  8. Be kinder to the environment – Made more effort to recycle, and it’s something that I’ve got to keep up.
  9. Find ways to be more artistic/creative – Well, I’m somewhat better at taking pictures, if that counts.
  10. Finish reading a non-fiction book – If there was one thing I did a lot of in March, it was reading. After finishing “Impressionism: Beneath the Surface” (see more here), I decided to balance it out with something easier, so since then I’ve read “Occasions” by Kate Spade, “The Power of Style” by Bobbie Thomas”, and even “Fun with Washi” by Jessica Okui. Finally getting a library card was one of the best things I did in recent months!