Hello Kitty is Now Serving Up Dim Sum!

In the last few years, we’ve been seeing Hello Kitty cafes and food trucks popping up to bring adorable desserts with Hello Kitty’s face or her signature red bow peeking up. With conventions and exhibits dedicated to our favorite Sanrio character, it’s obvious we just can’t get enough. Thankfully, it seems we keep getting more and more Hello Kitty everyday. In fact, now you can find Hello Kitty dim sum!

Before you get too excited, there’s one thing that may stand in your way. You’ll have to get a plane ticket to Hong Kong if you want to have dim sum in this Hello Kitty-themed restaurant. Although the very pink Hello Kitty Dreams Restaurant in Beijing was the first to bring savory foods inspired by the iconic character, this new dim sum restaurant is the first of its kind. Opening this month, it will also be serving noodle dishes, rice dishes and pretty much anything else you would typically find at a dim sum restaurant. Just much, much cuter to look at. We’ll just have to wait and see if they taste just as yummy as they look.

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If you ask me, these are too cute to eat! I wonder how long preparation takes…

Hopefully there will be a Hello Kitty dim sum restaurant popping up in the U.S., simply because I want to sit and admire the cuteness in person. But in the meantime, let’s take a short preview tour of the restaurant below:


Feature image courtesy of lockerdome.com.
Photos courtesy of JetsoClub.

Barbie Celebrates “Sheroes” With This Eva Chen Doll

 

We’ve got to admit, Barbie® has been impressing us quite a bit over the recent years. Our sadness over the cancellation of the only American Doll of Asian descent was quickly remedied with the discovery of all the various Asian Barbie dolls throughout history. They even gave us more to be excited about just a few months ago with the release of a new, gorgeous Filipina Barbie doll thanks to the creative mind of designer Carlyle Nuera.

Well, Barbie isn’t done impressing us just yet. Today, Barbie is honoring six “Sheroes” who inspire girls everywhere by breaking boundaries, challenging gender norms and showing women that the possibilities are limitless.

“Barbie has always represented that girls have choices, and this Spring we are proud to honor six Sheroes who through their trade and philanthropic efforts are an inspiration to girls,” said Evelyn Mazzocco, General Manager Barbie. “Started by a female entrepreneur and mother, this brand has a responsibility to continue to honor and encourage powerful female role models who are leaving a legacy for the next generation of glass ceiling breakers.”

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The six women will be honored at the Variety Power of Women Luncheon in New York City with a one-of-a-kind doll fashioned and created in their likeness. Most exciting of all, among the six inspiring Sheroes is Audrey‘s Fall 2015 cover girl Eva Chen!

As the editor-in-chief of Lucky magazine, Chen is the very first Asian American EIC in the Condé Nast publishing empire and the youngest EIC at a major American fashion publication. Needless to say, she is nothing short of inspiring.

“I’m always the first to say I’m Chinese American, first-generation American, child of immigrants, and my parents made everything possible for me,” Chen tells us during her Fall 2015 cover story.

“I think in the fashion and media industry today, there are so many people pretending to be something they’re not– personality-wise, image-wise, lifestyle-wise,” she continues. “And for me, I am who I am.”

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And we simply can’t get over how much we love this Eva Chen Barbie doll. They perfected every detail from her sunnies, her gorgeous midi skirt and (of course) the adorable fact that she’s holding a Lucky magazine. Most importantly, her facial features have been molded specifically for Chen, without being a caricature of Asians.

The Shero celebration will continue until National #SheroDay, Monday, April 2. Want to pay tribute to your own Shero? You can use the tags #Shero #BeSuper on social media. Be sure to tag @Barbie on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Want to learn more about Eva Chen? Check out Audrey‘s Fall 2015 cover story.

Director Li Lu Wants to Show that Asian Americans Can Make Any Kind of Film

 

The Los Angeles Asian Film Festival kicked off Thursday night, and one of the films that is world premiering over the next week is Li Lu’s first feature There Is A New World Somewhere, starring Agnes Bruckner (Blue Car). It’s about a young aspiring artist living in New York who returns to her hometown of Austin, Texas, feeling like she has nothing to show for her two years of hard work, pursuing her dreams in the big city. She meets a mysterious stranger and decides to escape on a road trip with him.

The USC grad was born in China but came to the US at a young age, where she moved around a lot, living everywhere from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Eugene, Oregon to Sugar Land, Texas.

“I wanted to write a film that portrayed the South the way I saw it…. Coming from the East Coast at the time, I had all these misconceptions and stereotypical ways of thinking about the South, and although some parts of it are true — and I experienced it first-hand — I was moreso met with an era of kindness and acceptance and a deep spirituality that isn’t really tied to any one religion. It’s Southern hospitality at its best. So I wanted to make a film that portrayed my version of the South through the locations that these two people go to.”

Though it’s not an Asian American film, she wants people to know that they did open casting for all ethnicities.

“I really wanted to find the strongest actress and actor for these particular roles. Maurice Compte, who plays Esteban, is an amazing Cuban American actor. He was born in New Orleans and hadn’t been back since he was born. Agnes Bruckner, who plays Sylvia, is amazing. She speaks fluent Hungarian, her parents are Hungarian and Russian, so she brings that ethnic background into the film.”

And as a young creative person who names Ang Lee as an idol, Li Lu believes it’s good for Asian Americans directors to be making all different types of films.

“When someone looks at an Asian or Asian American filmmaker, they expect to see an Asian American film, and I think that’s a little reductive and confining to say you can only tell this kind of story. Shouldn’t it say something that Asian American filmmakers can now make any kind of film and succeed in doing so? That’s my hope with the film at this festival — to show not only the public, but ourselves, that we don’t have to be pigeonholed anymore. We can do anything we want, because make-believe is make-believe.

Click here for more information of the LAAPFF screenings.

Lu will also be speaking at the “Women in the Director’s Chair” panel, co-hosted by Film Fatales, on April 25.

For more of the interview, go to Asia Pacific Arts.

Top Stories of the Week: NYX Founder Toni Ko and A Non-Korean K-Pop Boy Band

1) What’s Next For NYX Founder Toni Ko? [READ HERE]

 

 

 

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2) Controversial K-pop Boyband Turns Out To Be A Thesis Project [READ HERE]

 

 

 

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3) Wong Fu Debuts First Feature Film ‘Everything Before Us’ [READ HERE]

 

 

 

 

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4) Top 10 Most Outrageous Asian Superstitions [READ HERE]

 

 

 

 

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5) Celebrate Earth Day With 5 of Asia’s Most Beautiful Spots [READ HERE]

 

 

 

Fitness Friday: Are You Guilty Of Body Shaming?

Recently, Blogilates founder and fitness instructor, Cassey Ho, released a short video about having “the perfect body.” However, what initially captured my attention was a photo of a much thinner Ho with an insane, Barbie-like thigh gap, thinner arms and a waist that looked like it was molded by a corset.

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My initial reaction was far from praise. Instead, I questioned, “What in the world happened to her?” After following her and seeing so many of her well-known mirror selfies, there was no way this was the fitness guru I admired. Then I watched the video that followed and understood the unfortunate reality that this body type is what her fans seek to achieve.

And they’ve certainly let her know that she doesn’t actually have the “perfect body.”

 

I still question why a thigh gap is supposedly attractive to both men and women. If girls don’t naturally have it, they certainly want it and will work to get it. Realistically, everyone’s body type is different and even if you end up losing weight and toning up, you still won’t look like a carbon copy of the fitness model you were looking up to. Our body shapes our different, from the length of our legs, our torsos, to our arms and shoulders. Instead of striving to look like someone else, we should strive to be the best version of ourselves. Let’s be honest though, this is easier said than done, but let’s keep this in mind whenever your self-esteem is dipping down.

Ever since I began college, I struggled with my body image and weight fluctuations. I went from a thin, weak, curve-less teenager to the “thick” but physically stronger adult that I am now. Truthfully, I prefer the latter because looking back at old photos, I was so skinny that my head looked way too big for my body. Still, it’s a constant struggle to find a balance between a healthy and active lifestyle without being too strict on myself and not enjoying life.

If you’ve noticed, I refer to Cassey Ho and Blogilates quite a bit. She was the first to help me with easy recipes that are healthy so I won’t be lazy to cook. Her workout clothes are so motivational (and cute) that they made me want to get up and go to the gym and, most helpful of all, she has always been positive and upbeat. She isn’t a tough, intimidating instructor with glistening muscles popping out of the computer screen; she’s someone “real” with an imperfect, but strong body. I’m thankful she made the video because it relays a very powerful message about body shaming and body image.

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Self esteem is such a powerful factor that can truly make or break anyone. Unfortunately, Ho is considered a “celebrity” and this type of publicity and bullying is often considered normal. And perhaps this comes with the territory of being well-known, but that isn’t an excuse for people to discourage her, or other people for the matter, who are trying to change and better themselves.

All images courtesy of Cassey Ho.

Monique Lhuillier Mixes Naughty And Nice With ‘Alice In Wonderland’ Inspired Wedding Dresses

The weather is warmer, the birds are chirping and the flowers are blooming. Sure, these are signs that it’s spring time, but it also means wedding season is here! Are you a bride-to-be looking for inspiration (or simply dreaming of your ideal Pinterest-worthy wedding)? Look no further! Monique Lhullier is never short of impressive and at this year’s bridal fashion week, she has done it again. The Filipina American designer’s Spring 2016 dresses are inspired by something familiarly whimsical, but with a darker twist.

Feminine, figure-hugging silhouettes, deeper necklines, cutouts and intricate, flowery detailing is just the beginning of Lhuillier’s Alice in Wonderland inspired collection. But don’t let these sparkling elements distract you from the other side of the collection. In her interview with The Knot, Lhuillier says she drew inspiration from the darker elements of the story:

“My collection is very sensual and elegant, really pushing the limits. I researched Alice in Wonderland references– specifically the fantasy of it and darker elements. There’s a lot of darkness, but also a lot of light. The gowns are extremely sensual, sultry and close to the body. These gowns look at the naughty and nice side of the bride.”

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These are only some of the gorgeous gowns from her Spring 2016 collection and although there are sexier and bolder elements, Lhuillier still produced beautiful dresses that literally made the inner hopeless romantic in me gasp. Subtly naughty to appeal to the bride, but all over nice for a family friendly wedding dress? Sounds like my kind of dress!

Which one is your favorite? What would your ideal wedding dress look like?

 

Feature image courtesy of Michael Weschler and Monique Lhuillier.
Images of gowns courtesy of theknot.com.

Japan’s Desire To Preserve Youth Continues With Anti-Aging Beer

The desire to preserve one’s youth or to achieve one’s ideal of physical perfection is now in full swing more than ever. Although plastic surgery is more common in Asia, I can see our fair share in my own backyard. After all, this is Los Angeles. With the recent viral Kylie Jenner lip challenge, it makes me think how much more obsessed society is becoming to look like the celebrities they admire (even though many of them are anything but admirable).

Recently, we showed you Japan and Korea’s beauty trends to achieve a younger look. However, makeup and beauty products are simply not enough. It seems that Japan is quite adamant about maintaining a youthful appearance because now, you can find anti-aging properties in their beer.

Japanese brewery, Suntory, produced a new beer called “Precious.” It contains collagen, a protein that is believed to contain anti-aging properties. This protein is what gives skin elasticity and it decreases as we get older; this is why we get wrinkles and our skin isn’t as… perky (yikes). Japanese women believe that using and ingesting collagen products will make their wrinkles magically disappear. Quite a smart move there, Suntory brewery.

There has yet to be studies that prove this beer’s anti-aging claims are true, but it’s certainly a smart marketing gimmick to attract women. I’m not sure if I buy into Suntory’s claims, but since it’s beer, it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try.

Courtesy of fooddiggity.com.

Courtesy of fooddiggity.com.

 

Feature image courtesy of YouBeauty.com.

Millennial Love Column: #RomanceIsNotDead

 

Nearly 10 years ago, my very first boyfriend asked me out by recording a message on a mix CD that instructed me to meet him on the school stage the next morning. There, in front of the whole world (and by “the whole world” I actually just mean the kids in high school), he gave me my first kiss and handed me a box containing 143 folded paper hearts — which he had made during the nights we stayed up talking on the phone. Was I swooning? Yup. Was I turning a dangerous shade of red that only looks appealing on tomatoes and stop signs? You bet I was.

By the time I got home that night, I was practically exploding in giddiness as I told the story to my family. Now, I was prepared for my mom’s teasing, and I even expected my brother to throw up a little, but who could’ve foreseen my grandma’s reaction? She sighed in disapproval and mumbled something about romance being dead.

Have you ever seen a balloon deflate? That’s about the best description I have of how I felt in that moment. How could my grandma — my wise, sage grandma — think that romance was dead after the incredible day I just had?

After much prying, she finally explained that she was upset because the “rude boy” didn’t pick me up at the door on our first date, and those “scraps of paper” could never compare to roses.

I cracked a smile of relief. Of course she felt that way. This wasn’t the first time I’d been told Millennials didn’t know a thing about romance. You see, in my grandmother’s eyes, as well as many Boomers and Gen X’ers, boys these days lack chivalry, serious relationships are traded for casual “hook-ups,” and communication is only done through a computer or phone screen. Given that perspective, I completely understand why people think romance is dead.

But I’m here to let you in on a secret: Romance is alive and well. The naysayers simply don’t recognize it because they’re looking for the wrong things. Romance changes, grows and adapts. The way we show and perceive romance now may not look like it used to, but has it disappeared? Of course not. Here’s why.

 

Myth #1: Chivalry Is Dead
According to the old-school definition, the quintessential romantic gentleman should pay for my meal on dates, spoil me weekly with flowers and pick me up at my front door. But there’s a problem with that theory. First of all, I quite frankly don’t care how much a man spends on me. I know from firsthand experience that being a college grad drowning in student loans is no joke. So I have no intention of putting anyone through the extra pressure of paying for two if he simply can’t. Second and most importantly, it’s the 21st century. Who says I need a guy to pay for my meals?

And sure, not every guy knocks on my door to pick me up for a date, but I’m actually quite relieved when someone shoots me a text instead. Not only is texting a faster and more efficient way to get me, there’s also no need to freak out about that mess in the living room and I have time for my last touch-up in the mirror.

Believe me, I appreciate chivalry just as much as the next girl, but this does not equate to romance in my book. I know plenty of men who are still working towards financial stability and can’t afford flowers on a regular basis, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be romantic. On the other side of the spectrum, I know even more men who know everything about holding doors open and nothing about the kind of romance that gives you butterflies.

 

Myth #2: It’s All About Hooking Up
I won’t deny it. Our generation has mastered the art of keeping things casual, especially in college. And don’t get me wrong — I’m not trying to argue that hookup culture is romantic. I do, however, believe that fully understanding hookup culture (and why we partake in it) is important to seeing why romance is sometimes put on hold.

Hookup culture is one that encourages casual relationships and sexual encounters, while generally staying away from serious relationships. What some people don’t realize is that we keep our love life casual during the times that we need to take our career life seriously.

Decades ago, it wasn’t rare for a couple to get married right out of high school or college. Nowadays, ask someone in their mid-20s about marriage and many will say they’re nowhere near that stage of life. We live in a world of low employment opportunities, high competition and even higher stress and depression rates. Getting into college has become harder than ever and becoming financially stable after graduating is even worse. Do you really think our focus is on marriage right now?

We have not, by any means, traded romance for a culture of hookups. We’re simply making sure we mold the best versions of ourselves until we’re ready for a serious, romantic relationship.

 

Myth #3: Technology Killed Romance
This is simultaneously the most valid argument and yet the biggest misconception here. I say that because I can completely understand why older generations think texting, online dating and the Internet in general gets in the way of proper romance. After all, I’m sure they shake their heads at couples who spend dinner dates scrolling through Instagram instead of talking.

But I would argue that technology has actually helped make us openly romantic and sometimes extravagantly so. What are texts if not instant love letters? What is online dating if not the romantic pursuit of finding someone you may have otherwise never met? Yes, we are obsessed with taking pictures of our dates, but isn’t that just an effort to physically preserve our memories?

Men no longer are limited to dropping an engagement ring into a champagne glass. YouTube has allowed us all to see extravagant proposals using flashmobs, scavenger hunts and hidden cameras. We’re publicly displaying our love and doing so creatively and loudly. Yes, our methods are showy — another criticism we often receive — but spend an hour looking up wedding proposals online, and you’ll take back everything you said about romance being dead.

Want to learn how to play your crush’s favorite song on the guitar to serenade her? Go find a tutorial online. Want to tell her how you’re feeling but can’t find the words? Find the perfect song on YouTube. Want to get the perfect Valentine’s Day present? Check her pins on Pinterest. Want to reassure her that there’s no one else? Let everyone on your social media platforms know your heart is taken.

Flashmobs, texting and social media may not be included in the traditional definition of romance, but if my guy posts that embarrassing picture of us just because he knows I love it, then that sure counts for me.
Feature image courtesy of dailybruin.com
This story was originally published in our Spring 2015 issue. Get your copy here

Wong Fu Debuts First Feature Film ‘Everything Before Us’

 

In 2006, Wong Fu Productions released a comical YouTube short Yellow Fever, which became their very first viral video. Now, nearly a decade later, Wong Fu Productions has expanded far beyond what they ever expected.

“We never had the intention of making Wong Fu what it is today, but we know we’re very lucky and will do our best to deserve it,” they humbly state on their website.

Watching Wong Fu grow over the years in the industry, we have witnessed them develop their craft as well as delve deeper into their stories and characters, especially with Just A Nice GuyStrangers Again, and The Last to name a few. Their shorts have made us smile, laugh, cry, and even cry from laughing too hard. They’ve taken us on an emotional roller coaster and we’re excited to continue the ride as Wong Fu releases their first feature-length movie, Everything Before Us.

We already know that Wong Fu has gift for being able to capture our emotions perfectly when we go through the highs of love and the lows of loss. (I’m guilty of crying a couple times after watching Strangers Again, but who didn’t?) This time around, Everything Before Us explores the challenges of two couples: high schoolers Seth (Brandon Soo Hoo) and Haley (Victoria Park), and thirty-something professionals Ben (Aaron Yoo) and Sara (Brittany Ishibashi). But when their relationship activities are documented by the Department of Emotional Integrity (DEI), a DMV-styled agency that issues a relationship score for the public to see in order to keep individuals accountable for their relationship choices, it changes the couples’ dynamics. As the world-weary DEI case worker (Randall Park) monitors each couples activities to issue their relationship score, it begins to affect various aspects of the couples’ daily lives and darker secrets begin to unravel.

 

Everything Before Us will be premiering at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival Thursday, April 23rd, 2015. You can purchase your tickets here.

 

Featured Image courtesy of Everything Before Us.

The Correct Way To Do Yoga Push-Ups

A chaturanga dandasana, the Sanskrit term for “four-limbed staff pose,” is typically done 15 to 20 times in a classic 60-minute Vinyasa class. It’s a pose that energizes and strengthens the entire body, especially the arms, legs and core. This half push-up is one of the most frequently practiced poses in class, and yet it is commonly done incorrectly. As a yoga instructor, I’ve witnessed this all too often, and as a practitioner, I too fall prey to misalignment on occasion. But with proper guidance and practice, your body should be able to feel the difference between improper alignment and proper alignment.

 


 

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Incorrect Chaturanga Dandasana
Example A:
In this misaligned pose, the arms are wide apart and the elbows are facing outwards. The shoulders are tense. You can see that the core isn’t engaged because the lower back is sinking down, which will eventually cause pain in your lower back. The glutes are not engaged, and the tailbone is sticking up. The heels are shifting the body and flow of energy backward and down instead of forward.

 


 

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Incorrect Chaturanga Dandasana
Example B:
Here, the core is sinking way too low and isn’t supporting the lower back, which affects the alignment of the entire body. You can see the legs are drooping down towards the ground. The torso, quads and hamstrings are not fully engaged. Also, the shoulders should be back away from the ears, and the upper body should be in line with the hips.

 


 

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A Proper Chaturanga Dandasana:
Start at plank position. Lower the body halfway only with the tailbone tucked under. There should be a long line of energy flowing straight forward from the heels of the feet all the way up to the crown of the head. The elbows are at a 90-degree angle and hugging in towards the ribcage. The fingers are wide open, knuckles pushing down towards the ground. Your gaze should be relaxed, keeping the cervical spine long. You will know if you are doing it incorrectly if your body doesn’t feel engaged. While in the pose, squeeze the inner thighs, the glutes and the core to get the full expression of the chaturanga dandasana.

 


 

STORY BY SUNINA YOUNG
Sunina Young (sunina.com) is a yoga + SLT pilates instructor in New York City
Photos by Andy Hur, andyhur.com

This story was originally published in our Spring 2015 issue. Get your copy here