#LETTERSFROMJEN

What is SYMBOLIC ANNIHILATION?

Life is an ever changing journey of self discovery. We're constantly on this path of trying to figure out who were are in this world, our place in it and how we connect with one another. One thing that connects humans to each other are our experiences. Whether they are individual or shared, our experiences and the stories that come from them are how we connect to each other, create and build relationships. Sure, most organically this is done from human to human but another way we find connection are through the stories told in media. We look for the faces most similar to ours to see if our stories are being told, if there is something we can relate to.

“There’s this body of research and a term known as ‘symbolic annihilation,’ which is the idea that if you don’t see people like you in the media you consume, you must somehow be unimportant.”** It’s essentially the active un-represenation of cultural groups which is why representation does matter. Imagine growing up as a person of color and only ever seeing white stories told. You one hundred percent questions yourself, your identity and start to feel ashamed that you don’t look like the people you see on screen.

Growing up I definitely was not proud to be Asian American. In fact, I could probably say it was something I hated. On Saturday’s while my white friends got to sleep in, wake up late and watch “One Saturday Morning” I was in Korean school. They got lunchables, I got Asian lunches which always had seaweed, kimchi and some other pungent foods that I would always throw out. I “white-washed” myself and at times I hated that I wasn’t “white” and as a kid to an awkward teen and a young adult, there were times where I felt I wasn’t good enough. 

This internal identity crisis not only manifested in myself but in how I made friendships and relationships. In high school, I was lucky enough to find a group of Asian Americans girlfriends (who are still my best friends to this day) who definitely had the same identity struggles as I did. We weren’t “Asian” enough to hangout with the super Asian or ABG Asians, but we were Asian so we didn’t necessarily fit in with the white girls who wore the exact same Hollister and Abercrombie outfits we did and watch Laguna Beach religiously like we did either. One friendship in particular I made in high school was with my best friend Kaisa, who I kid you not looks like freaking Princess Elsa from Frozen. As far back as I could remember, she was one of the first people to really make me feel proud to be Asian. She and I have a relationship and bond that I don’t have with anyone else, we had some similar experiences growing up that connected us but on the surface, when you just look at us we’re definitely different. I remember the first time Kaisa came over, my mom of course made Korean food. She made some of my grandma’s dumplings or mandoo. And to my surprise Kaisa loved them, she also shared my love of jelly pens and Hello Kitty. To this day Kaisa still asks for my grandma’s mandoo. I definitely got lucky with my friendships and it still shocks me to this day that Angel, Amanda, Kaisa, Nikki and Michelle are some of my closest friends. 

But for some reason I always limited myself when it came to romantic relationships. I do think this is in part that I just never wanted to be involved with someone who was anything like my dad aka Korean, stubborn, close minded. From there it manifested into this “I don’t date Asian guys” stance and I do think it does have to do with symbolic annihilation. Fifteen, twenty years ago we didn’t have the Henry Goldings or the Charles Meltons on our screens. I had Paul Walker, Freddie Prinze Jr. and Chad Michael Murray. When we did have Asian males on our screens they were often portrayed in a very undesirable image. When you see a specific cultural group represented time and time again in the same undesirable manner, you end up thinking that’s actually the case in real life. Which as a wise 30 year old, I now know is not the case at all, haha. I mean did y’all watch Crazy Rich Asians?! There’s a lot of handsome half naked Asian men in that movie. If you haven’t seen it, it’s on HBO right now. Do yourself a favor and go watch it.

2018’s #AsianAugust was so goddamn amazing. Asians from all different nationalities fought for better representation, really fighting against this system of symbolic annihilation. I’m going to be completely honest, I cried watching Netflix’s To All The Boys I Loved Before. I’ve also become more emotional as I’ve gotten older so maybe that explains the crying but that scene where Noah Centineo’s character asks for the yalkult and found it to be yummy reminded me of my best friend Kaisa and my grandma’s dumplings. #AsianAugust really showed main stream media that we too are multifaceted human beings with equally as important stories and meaningful stories deserve to be told. The forward trajectory our pop culture and media are moving at needs to continue if we hope to breakdown this system of symbolic annihilation. We need to continue sharing the experiences, connection and stories of people of color because at the end of the day we’re all human. Humans on a journey of self discovery, trying to find our place in this crazy world. 

xx JHL

**Why On-Screen Representation Actually Matters by Sara Bobolotz and Kimberly Yam “https://www.huffpost.com/entry/why-on-screen-representation-matters_n_58aeae96e4b01406012fe49d"

hayden is cancelled... or temporarily disabled.

I don’t know if y’all remember but a couple years back when hackers started breaking into influencers instagrams and holding them hostage, I’ve always had the thought that if my IG ever did get hacked I’d walk away from this life and be okay with it. Something I always have to remind myself is “if social media disappeared tomorrow, would I still have something to offer the world?” Would my voice still matter? Would my opinion still hold weight? Or am I just pixels a part of this wicked machine we call social media?

My feed in the past year and a half has become a lot more #ads and #sponcon instead of actually sharing, connecting and telling you my story. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking shit, that sponsored content and advertising is what has allowed me to grow my brand, my reach and connect with more of you. It’s also not like I say yes to every collaboration request, I turn a lot of collaborations down and right now the only “regular” partnerships I have are with Lulu’s and Clavin Klein. There are a handful of skincare brands I always say yes to because they were the ones who started with me when I had maybe two thousand followers to present day, but nonetheless, I’ve been feeling like a sell out.

So I did something that’s probably social suicide or suicide in general for anyone who chooses this path. I disabled my instagram. I did this in a conscious effort to get back to writing, to get back to sharing my life without counting the likes, shares or saves. My voice was most honest, most relatable and most listened to when I was so raw and open and shared my breakup with you guys. That was a level of connecting that a 1x1 photo on my feed could never do and will never do. Who knows how long I’ll actually survive without instagram, because unfortunately it has become so engrained in my life. My hope is that I’m able to share at least a handful of honest moments in my life that once again let my readers know they are not alone.

While I’m putting together the posts of what’s been happening in my life so far in 2019, if you’re new to my blog read the stories below, if you’re OG why not take a trip down memory lane and remind yourself why you felt we connected in the first place.

xx

Another Year Wiser

In just two short weeks I'll be 29. This will be the last year I'm in my "twenties." I honestly can't believe I've made it thus far in life without having a 2007 Britney breakdown. Believe me, I've been close. I've never been a big fan of birthdays, to be honest, they always suck and they're always a letdown. It never turns out the way you want and people just disappoint you. And to be fair... it's not like you did anything amazing by just being born. If anything your birthday should be a day to celebrate your mother and the painful hours of labor they went through to bring you into this world. You... you were simply just born. 

I didn't want to do anything this year. Honestly, I'm a lot more sensitive about my birthday this year than most. At the beginning of the year, I was so excited, so hopeful to soon be entering my thirties. But as 29 looms around the corner there is one thing that keeps hopping around in my brain. I'm turning 29 and I'm still failing at relationships. I had this stupid realization a couple weeks ago and since then, I haven't been okay. 

This is why I like doing one of two things for my birthdays. 1) Either forgetting it completely or 2) Going on a trip. And I'm not talking about a "Stassi Schroeder, it's my birthday, birthday trip." It's a trip to get away and be with loved ones. For 27 my girlfriends and I went to San Diego, I wanted to be with my best friends and celebrate my friendships with them. 28... I honestly don't think I did anything. I probably went to Disneyland which is not anything big because I go regularly. For 29, I'll be in Hong Kong and Macao with two of my best friends. But ever since I had this depressing realization, I'm not even that excited anymore.

The whole CS thing and then the recent Jon and Michelle betrayal really fucked my 2017 up. So not only am I failing at romantic relationships but friendship ones too. Man, my intuition was really off this year. My one "wish" as I get older year after year, is that with a new year, I hope I'm wiser. If anything, I feel like I'm not getting wiser, but softer and more vulnerable to bad people.

With 29, I'll definitely be making the same wish. Here's to hoping I'm actually another year wiser.

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Why I Blog

One question I asked time and time again is... "What made me want to start blogging?" This is gonna sound super cheeseball but honestly, it is all of you. My wonderful audience who has grown with me as my blog has evolved into what it is today. You are the reason I continue to blog. 

I first started my blog as a way to share my k-beauty tips and tricks with you guys. I was getting flooded with so many questions when k-beauty was almost non-existent stateside. I made k-beauty my niche and expanded from there. Today, not only does my blog cover k-beauty, but it covers all beauty and skincare, my personal style, the experiences (good, bad and questionable) I go through in my very own life, my travels and my musings. This blog is an extension of me, it's a part and a piece of me, however, it is not all of me.  

Something that people who don't have social media engrained into their lives don't tend to understand is that what I choose to show you is a small minute fragment of my life. What you see is curated with a cadence calendar that lists out the topics, brands, products, outfits and stories I will be sharing for that month. That's not to say what you see if not me being me because it absolutely is. But you're only seeing what I'm allowing you to see. This is something that people need to keep in mind and remember. The me you see on social media is me in real life, but a curated version. 

I do my best to share personal stories with you because I want you all to be able to relate to me. My posting Chanel bags and trips to the Maldives in every other social share is absolutely not relatable. I want this space to be somewhere you can come and feel like someone understands what you may be going through in life.

My philosophy behind life is that each and every human is on earth to make some sort of a positive impact. Whether big or small, positivity knows no bounds. With my blogging, if I'm able to help, inspire, connect with or help even one person feel like they are not alone, I've done my duty as a human being. I can only hope that I continue to inspire and relate to you all because without you none of this matters. Yes, blogging is a creative outlet for me but it's incredibly humbling and an honour when someone halfway across the globe reads on of my blogs and reaches out to me about how they went through a similar experience. Those moments are the reason why I blog.

A Letter To Myself - v.2

Dear Jen,

It's Monday, July 24th and you're fucking exhausted. You had a busy weekend and a long work day but you're smiling and thankful for all the good in your life. I can bet your socks off that you're smiling and thankful because you have finally made peace with a situation that's consumed more time and attention than it ever should have. Coincidentally enough, last week Anelisse sent you an excerpt from R.M. Drake (see below) that gave you all the wisdom and words you needed to know. So even though you're fucking exhausted and in quite a bit of physical pain at the moment (your scoliosis has been acting up and your migraines have been coming back) you're at peace. 

via  @rmdrk  Instagram

via @rmdrk Instagram

This genuine at peace moment is a breath of fresh air. You finally realized you don't need answers or explanations from anyone else. Their justifications don't matter. What you choose to do in those moments of uncertainty and confusion is up to you. You can sit there, dwell on it and get mind fucked up the wazoo or you can let it go. You can be at peace. You can move the fuck on.

I'm really proud of you, as you're agreeing to go on dates with the intent of following through (the last couple dates you agreed to, you last minute cancelled), embracing the day as it comes and feeling fucking empowered. In short you're feeling like a boss babe right now and that's something no one can take away from you. Use this feeling as a reminder for the next time you find yourself in a rut, you are constantly growing and strengthen as a person. In moments you felt weak and thought the sun wouldn't come out, you got up and went on with each day, growing and getting strong again. Know you can do anything and know you're a fucking flower.

trace people