Friday, July 11, 2014

Inside Out

A typhoon has passed through Japan recently, but all I felt of it in Tokyo was some wind and rain last night. This morning, the sky was a dazzling blue and the sunlight was almost blindingly bright. The air is becoming increasingly humid, reminding me of the thick heat I felt when I first landed in Japan five years ago. In the midst of this kind of weather, I made some self portraits with this blue floral dress from Sheinside. A big thank you to Sheinside for the lovely summer dress!

Personally, I feel much more comfortable behind the camera and clicking away than in front of the camera. I tend to feel a bit awkward and self conscious, depending on the situation and who is taking the photo. I was talking about this with a friend, but before coming to Tokyo, I already had in mind what a fashionable and appearance-focused place it would be. I was scared, really, because I had never seriously been interested in fashion as a student, and I had no idea what it was all about. Back at UC Berkeley, the standard fashion for me (and maybe many other students) consisted of jeans, sweatshirts, sandals, sneakers.. I almost never wore makeup, and I was almost against it. I kept telling myself that the inside was what mattered, and kept saying that after arriving in Tokyo.

Along the way, I suddenly battered against so many experiences that emphasized the opposite of what I had believed - that appearance *did* matter, and that I should do something about it. Among those included an episode with a boss who took me aside and mentioned makeup for working ladies is like a manner in Japan, staff who told me I should change and dress specially for my music live because guests would expect something special rather than everyday clothes, etc.. I can't deny that I was shaken, from the roots of my belief that I could always get by just fine with jeans and without a touch of makeup. I had never thought of myself as particularly pretty, but my self confidence definitely began teetering downhill after I arrived in the land of amazingly cute, perfectly made-up and impeccably dressed ladies walking by all around. My world had turned, if not upside down, at least at a strange angle that I wasn't used to seeing.

After much angst, arguing, and denial, I gradually decided to dip my toe into dressing up - perhaps not what you could call fashionably, but at least in a way that I would feel confident enough when I went out. And there is the key to all of this - confidence. It's easy to lose sight sometimes, but I think this fashion thing is about building confidence and expressing yourself. That's what I've come to realize. The clothes, accessories, makeup - they're all just extensions of the you inside, selected and placed by you to show what kind of person you are without words. Without it all, we're just naked creatures, humans, still beautiful in our own ways. The inside still counts the most, to me. But I'm learning to see the outside as a part of that inside as well, like a form of communication, or perhaps self-love.

Let's face it - after all, fashion and preening of appearance is basically a luxury. But if you think of it that way, I guess you could say the same for art, music, writing...

I'm learning this late in the game, but fashion is sort of fun.
Let's see what adventures I get into with it next.