Asia’s Ridiculous ‘Finger Trap’ Beauty Test Determines Whether You’re Pretty Or Ugly

Story by Michelle Woo. 

It’s being called the “finger trap,” and it’s the latest Asian beauty trend swarming through social media. (And no, we’re not talking about those 10-cent gag toys that would turn your fingers blue by cutting off your circulation.) The concept is simple: Touch the side of your index finger to both the tip of your nose and your chin. If your lips don’t touch your finger, congratulations! You’re pretty! If they do, well, er … there’s always Photoshop?

According to Refinery29, the trend originated with a Japanese meme. Chinese actress Xinyi Zhang—who’s stunning, by the way—tried it out and then lamented the fact that she “didn’t pass.” This prompted her legions of fans to take the test and post selfies showing their results. Now everyone from “ancient Chinese generals to K-Pop stars” has gotten in on the finger-trap action. The test, also known as the “Beauty and Ugliness Identification Method,” is one of biggest trending topics on Weibo, China’s version of Facebook. HelloGiggles called it “the new thigh gap.”

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Some say the finger trap trend is just another reflection of Asia’s absurd beauty standards, while others, including Refinery29 fashion intern and Weibo user Venus Wong, brush it off as “a harmless fad.” Curious, I tried the test and failed. Sob. At least I’m not alone. Under this ridiculous measure, Angelina Jolie, Jessica Alba, Christina Hendricks and Victoria Beckham are also part of Club Ugly.

This story was originally published on iamkoream.com.  

New Film Stars K-pop Star BoA and Dancing With the Stars’ Derek Hough

Story by Lorna Soonhee Umphrey.

K-pop fans get a chance to see their “Queen of Pop,” BoA, in a whole new light, as she makes her American feature film debut in Make Your Move, co-starring Dancing With the Stars’ Derek Hough.

Set in the underground dance clubs of New York, the film tells the story of star-crossed dancers Aya (played by BoA) and Donny (played by Hough), whose respective families are competing to see who has the most successful dance club in the Brooklyn scene. Their brothers (Aya’s brother is played by Korean American actor Will Yun Lee) also are former partners who had a testy falling-out, making the pairing of Aya and Donny a somewhat forbidden one.

The film’s writer and director Duane Adler (Step Up, Save The Last Dance) said that he wrote the role of Aya specifically for BoA. “I got introduced to her personally years ago through a Korean filmmaker friend of mine who said, ‘You make dance films, you need to know who this girl is.’ So when I started writing this movie, I wrote it with her in mind,” he said, during red carpet interviews at a March 31 screening at The Grove in Los Angeles.

So Adler sent over the script to the global K-pop star, and it didn’t take much convincing after that, according to BoA. “Ater I read it, I said, ‘Oh my gosh, I could relate to the character,” said BoA, also at the L.A. screening.

And, once she knew that the choreographers for the film would be dancing veterans Napoleon and Tabitha D’umo (So You Think You Can Dance and America’s Best Dance Crew), she jumped on board with the project. “They’re great, amazing choreographers, and I had wanted to work with them even before I started working on this project,” BoA said.

This being her first English-language feature film, the singer admitted it was a challenge to act in English. “It was pretty tough, but I think I did my best, and it was really great to work with Derek and Duane,” she said.

Hough, who said it was “great to work with BoA,” was the one on set who shared with some fellow cast members just how prominent a pop icon BoA is.

“When I got the role, I didn’t know who BoA was,” admitted Wesley Jonathan, who plays Hough’s foster brother in the film. “Then, one night we’re all in Derek’s room, and Derek puts her on YouTube. She’s amazing—her dancing, her music and everything.”

Notably, Make Your Move was scheduled to have an April 16 VIP premiere, but TV Report said that it was canceled because of the tragic South Korean ferry sinking, which occurred this week. BoA also reportedly has canceled other planned interviews for the film because of the incident, which has a nation in mourning.

This story was originally published in iamkoream.com.

Artist David Choe Says He Fabricated Podcast Story About ‘Rapey Behavior’

Story by James S. Kim.

Korean American artist David Choe is known to be provocative in his work, but he may have gone too far when he told a story on his podcast about a questionable sexual encounter with a massage therapist that some are flagging as rape. After the initially obscure DVDASA podcast garnered greater attention and caused some to accuse him of rape, the artist issued a statement recently saying that he’s not a rapist and that he fabricated the encounter.

“We create stories and tell tales. It’s not a news show. It’s not a representation of my reality,” Choe said in his statement, which was posted on the podcast’s blog. “I’m sorry if anyone believed that the stories were fact. They were not!”

The episode of DVDASA, which Choe co-hosts with adult film actress Asa Akira, aired on March 10, but it was until weeks later on April 17 when a XoJane, an online women’s lifestyle magazine, highlighted Choe’s encounter with a female masseuse at a massage parlor in Los Angeles. Since then, others including Gawker and the Daily Mail picked up the story.

In the podcast, Choe said that, halfway through the massage, he got an erection, and after thinking on how to best act on it, decided to start masturbating in front of the masseuse, whom he calls “Rose.”

Choe said in the podcast that he took the woman’s hand and placed it on his penis, then asked her to “kiss it a little.” When Rose refused, he said he took the back of her head and forced her into oral sex. She refused to have intercourse with him, and apparently asked him to lie back down to finish the massage, he said.

The story was Choe’s account of an “Erection Quest,” which co-host Akira describes as “trying things you’ve never tried before to obtain a super hard erection.” When Choe finished his account, though, Akira said, “You raped … allegedly.” In the podcast, Choe also mentioned that the masseuse later asked him if he’d like to go out with her, and that apparently indicated to him that she did like him. After the podcast members talked about “rapey” behavior vs. “rape,” Choe said, “I just want to make it clear that I admit that that’s rapey behavior. But I am not a rapist.”

In the XoJane article, the author, Melissa Stetten, wrote, “I don’t know if ‘Rose’ really had a crush on David or not. All I know is the way David told the story makes it seem like he forced an unwilling woman to give him oral sex.”

After XoJane published its article, Choe responded the next day on DVDASA’s website, saying his story was entirely fictional.

“I never thought I’d wake up one late afternoon and hear myself called a rapist. It sucks. Especially because I am not one. I am not a rapist. I hate rapists, I think rapists should be raped and murdered,” he wrote. “I am an artist and a storyteller and I view my show DVDASA as a complete extension of my art. If I am guilty of anything, it’s bad storytelling in the style of douche. Just like many of my paintings are often misinterpreted, the same goes with my show.”

According to Buzzfeed, Vice is “looking into” the incident involving Choe, who is currently involved in the company’s web series Thumbs Up! and has also served as a correspondent for Vice’s HBO show. When asked by Buzzfeed whether Vice would continue to work with the artist, Vice spokeswoman Cappi Williamson said, “Vice staffers are aware of it [David Choe’s story] and reviewing the situation internally.”

Here’s the podcast in question from DVDASA Episode 106, “Erection Quest.” The story beings around the 1:13:00 mark.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKgOtFUyDBs

 

This story was originally published on iamkoream.com

Justin Bieber Apologizes After Visiting Controversial World War II Shrine

Story by James S. Kim. 

Pop star Justin Bieber isn’t exactly known for his cultural sensitivity, and on Wednesday, he added another reason for that reputation. During a visit to Tokyo, Japan, Bieber posted two photos on Instagram that showed him visiting a controversial World War II shrine, causing outrage among South Korean and Chinese netizens, as well as some lawmakers from those countries.

One photo showed Bieber praying in front of the Yasukuni Shrine, and another showed him posing with a priest. Bieber tweeted the photos with the caption, “Thank you for your blessings.”

Bieber quickly apologized and removed the photos after he came under fire from Chinese and South Korean fans, some of whom called for the singer to be banned from performing in their home countries and even demanding he be “run out of Asia” permanently, The Independent reports. On Instagram, Bieber said he did not realize what the shrine represented and was initially just struck by its beauty.

The singer explained that he had merely asked his driver to stop when he saw the “beautiful shrine.”

“I was mislead (sic) to think the shrines were only a place of prayer,” Bieber said in his post. “To anyone I have offended I am extremely sorry.”

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The Yasukuni Shrine honors Japanese soldiers killed in World War II, along with several war criminals. Visits by Japanese dignitaries over the years have strained relations between Japan and neighboring Asian countries, who view it as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism. Earlier this week, 150 Japanese lawmakers visited the shrine, and while Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did not come along, he made an offering to the shrine.

This story was originally published in iamkoream.com.

De-stress With These Earth Day-Friendly Products

In honor of Earth Day, here are some Earth Day-friendly products to help you de-stress:

1.) The new green line from a Victoria’s Secret model. Kora Organics by Miranda Kerr Daily Hand Creamkora
2.) Cleaning may be therapeutic, but cleaning with toxic-free products is divine. Simply Spotless New York Essential Cleaning Kit.
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3.) No more toxic, smelly manicures at home with this unique water-based nail lacquer. Scotch Naturals in Roasted Mellow.
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4.) Their focus is on safe-for-baby products, so it’ll baby your sensitive skin, too. Erbaviva Body Wash.

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Speaking of stress…

Nagging headache? Can’t sleep? Not very productive at work? It could be stress. Left unchecked, chronic stress may play a part in up to 80 percent of diseases and illnesses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — everything from insomnia to hypertension to premature aging to even death.

And boy, are we feeling it. According to the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America survey for 2013, 43 percent of women say their stress levels have increased in the last five years. In fact, the APA report showed that Millennials and Gen Xers experience the most stress and the least relief — they have higher stress levels than older generations and they are not managing it well. This is supported by a recent study in the Journal of Applied Psychology, which found that not only were women more stressed than men but 20-year-olds were more stressed than 30-somethings.

If that doesn’t scare you into de-stressing, how about these unsavory tidbits: Chronic stress leads to obesity, acne and infertility, and a recent study found that men found women with a high level of the stress hormone cortisol less attractive.

Stressing about de-stressing yet? Relaaaaaax. We’ve done the research for you and found a variety of experts to provide easy tips on how to take it down a notch in our everyday lives. CLICK HERE.  

This story was originally published in our Spring 2014 issue. Get your copy here.

(image source)

Marissa Webb Named Banana Republic’s Creative Director

Story by Steve Han. 

Mega-brand Banana Republic has hired Marissa Webb, a former womenswear designer at J. Crew, as its new creative director and executive vice president of design, it was reported in the Los Angeles Times this week.

Webb replaces Simon Kneen, who was in charge of the store’s design department from 2009 to 2013, during which time the retailer lost ground to competitors J. Crew, H&M and others. Gap Inc., Banana Republic’s parent company, revealed earlier this week in its financial reports that the retailer’s sales declined by 4 percent from the year before.

A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, Webb was adopted by an American family from Korea at age 4. She also previously worked for Polo and Club Monaco. In 2011, she launched her own eponymous label, a casual contemporary clothing line that is sold at retailers like Barneys New York.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the extremely passionate, talented design and creative teams at Banana Republic,” Webb said, according to the Fashion Times. “This is an amazing opportunity for me to combine my unique vision with a brand that has such a strong legacy.”

Established in 1978 in San Francisco, Banana Republic has more than 600 stores in 32 countries around the world.

Webb’s first collection for Banana Republic will debut in the summer of 2015.

This story was originally published in iamkoream.com.

The Line Hotel in Koreatown

Story by Anna M. Park.

Los Angeles’ Koreatown is known for its food, drinks and even karaoke song rooms. What it’s not known for is hospitality, and I don’t mean the old-school waitresses at some Korean restaurants. That is, until now.

A collaboration between the Sydell Group (Ace Hotel New York City and Palm Springs) and celebrity chef Roy Choi, the Line Hotel has officially become Koreatown’s go-to place to stay and soon, to eat and play as well.

Taking residence in the historic midcentury building designed by Daniel Mann Johnson + Mendenhall (formerly a sad Radisson), the Line houses 388 guest rooms designed by L.A. artist Sean Knibb, featuring specially commissioned local art and nods to the surrounding ethnic enclave (stools in the shower, Korean snacks in the minibar). Knibb also designed the cavernous lobby, a mélange of materials and soothing hues with its textured paneling (actually made of T-shirts dyed in an ombre of indigo), raw concrete pillars and circular banquettes, a mix of highbrow — marble tables, tufted chairs — and organic, everyday materials. The lobby wall facing the street is now floor-to-ceiling windows with an outdoor patio, opening up the Line to the bustling street life of colorful locals and office workers alike.

Artwork made from discarded laundry detergent bottles and molded T-shirt paneling at reception continues the highbrow-lowbrow mix of the Line.

Artwork made from discarded laundry detergent bottles and molded T-shirt paneling at reception continues the highbrow-lowbrow mix of the Line.

The angular moonscape-like banquettes in the lobby.

The angular moonscape-like banquettes in the lobby.

It’s a philosophy that seems to permeate the hotel. Guests are constantly being welcomed, almost to excess, a departure that indicates that the Line is definitely not your typical Koreatown experience — it’s actually more of a modern Seoul experience, where customer service has become key in the last decade. Indeed, Choi wanted to duplicate the experience of a classic international hotel bar in Korea with his Pot Lobby Bar, now open.

Though Choi’s highly anticipated hot pot restaurant Pot, as well as the speakeasy-style lounge Speek by nightlife impresarios the Houston Brothers and Choi’s other restaurant Commissary (a “vegetable but not vegetarian” focused restaurant), has yet to open, there’s already plenty of activity in the lobby — a variety of people in suits meeting in the peri- winkle wood banquettes, stylish young women twittering in Korean, their eyes darting about as if trying to spot a lumi- nary. (Indeed, on this day, Choi rushes by, donning his signature T-shirt, slouchy jeans, cap and bright aqua sneakers.)

“We want our guests to immerse themselves in the neighborhood,” says Sana Keefer, in charge of culture/creative at the Line. “Not just stay in the hotel, but have the Koreatown experience.” To that end, specially commissioned Linus bicycles are available for guest use and the in-house mag, Here, features maps and local businesses like Beer Belly, the HMS Bounty and Soowon Galbi.

It’s a fresh attitude starting to take hold in Koreatown. Some may call it gentrification, but what makes these changes different is that much of the growth of the neighborhood is helmed by Korean Americans. (The Houston Brothers, as well as Angie Myung, co-founder of the lifestyle brand Poketo, which will have a store and streetside newsstand on the lobby floor, are Korean American.) “The good thing is that we have a large Korean American base, a youth base,” says Keefer (herself of biracial Korean heritage). A young, hip American hotel, that’s what they’re going for, she says, while embracing the community with its Korean-speaking staff and translations throughout. “It’s a tricky thing to pull off,” adds Keefer, “but so far so good.” Details Thelinehotel.com.

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This story was originally published in our Spring 2014 issue. Get your copy here

Get This Anime Look: Fashion Inspired by Hayao Miyazaki Films

Story by Katherine Chou.

 

Kiki’s Delivery Service

Kiki OutfitKiki is a thirteen-year-old witch leaving home for the first time to seek her fortune in the port city of Koriko. Her signature black dress rivals Holly Golightly’s, though Kiki’s is far from little. Sporting long sleeves and a generous cut, it billows behind her in the air. Add a belt for a figure-hugging silhouette.

The outfit makes good use of red accents that pop against the black backdrop of the dress. With the help of a floppy red bow and dainty ballet flats, standard bag lady uniform is transformed into the look of an ambitious and independent young witch.

As us ordinary folk can’t exactly walk around followed constantly by a cat (though there are those lucky few), hint at Jiji, Kiki’s black cat and best friend, with a cat-shaped ring. Throw some nautical earrings into the mix as a nod to Kiki’s fondness for Koriko.

As for the broom, well that’s up to you. I hear the Firebolt is quite good.

 


Howl’s Moving Castle

Sophie OutfitSophie is a quiet and unassuming hatter. When she is turned into an old woman by the Witch of the Waste, she stows away aboard the moving castle of the enigmatic wizard, Howl, in order to remove her curse.

While Sophie may not be the most stylish among the heroines here, it is her cleverness and strength that saves Howl from his fate, bringing peace to their land and restoring her youth. Furthermore, she’s done what eludes most women, rocking the same outfit in both her youth and old age.

Start with a cornflower blue dress detailed with ruffles or neatly-lined buttons. A relaxed denim dress also does the trick. A pair of solid brown boots anchors the outfit, saying to the world, “My dress might border on frumpy, but I can still kick ass.” Which, now that I think of it, is essentially a theme of the film.

An orange gemstone is reminiscent of Calcifer, the flame that powers the castle and that only Sophie can tame. Bird silhouette earrings evoke the dark secret at the heart of Sophie’s story.

In the movie, Sophie wears both a red hair bow and a straw hat. If you find the combination a bit overwhelming in real life, you can tie a braid together with a red bow or top it all off with a straw hat in the style of your choice. A boater sets you apart from the fedora-loving masses. Okay, any hat stands out these days, even if it was mass-produced in a factory and not by Sophie’s loving hand.

This is America – even a hat of humblest beginnings can come to be part of an extraordinary outfit. Dream big, guys.

 

Howl Outfit

Metrosexual is a good adjective for Howl, a wizard caught in the midst of an epic war, but his life does depend on keeping up appearances as he evades the draft with the help of his moving castle and a series of false identities.

Howl’s wardrobe staples are slim black pants and a relaxed white blouse, upon which he vainly piles layers of jewelry. Evidently he has never taken Coco Chanel’s advice. His jewelry is an eclectic mix of pretty trinkets and meaningful pieces like the ruby ring connecting him to Calcifer. Purists can find jewelry that match his piece for piece. You can also put together a unique collection of personal pieces and those that just bring out your inner magpie.

This is a perfect transitional look for fall. Howl’s patchwork pink and blue jacket is difficult to find in the wild, so substitute with a peacoat in similar shades. As the days get chillier, a frayed black scarf adds another layer of warmth while referencing Howl’s fowl alter ego. In warmer weather, a feathered hairpiece does the same trick. Keep shoes simple with black ankle boots.

This outfit also works for Halloween, if you’re eyeing trick-or-treating as a kaleidoscope.

 


Spirited Away

Chihiro OutfitChihiro is a ten-year-old girl who moves into a new neighborhood and finds herself in a surreal world of spirits and monsters, including the witch, Yubaba, who turns her parents into pigs. Although all the neon in her look may be daunting, consider it an upgrade from your outfits when you were ten.

A relaxed ombre lime top gives a nod to the ombre trend and Chihiro’s colorblock green t-shirt. Fight the heat with some heat of your own in the form of hot pink shorts. Tie your hair into a high ponytail and wind a dragon bracelet around your wrist in honor of Haku, the river spirit that befriends Chihiro.

Finally, slip on a pair of yellow sneakers so you’re prepared in case you need to race against time to save your parents from being pigs. For some especially angry thirteen-year-olds, that’s every day.

 


Princess Mononoke

San OutfitMononoke being a Japanese term for a spirit or monster, the heroine of this film is actually a girl named San who fights on the side of the forest and its supernatural guardians against rampant resource consumption by humans in the Iron Town.

In the sweltering summer heat, ditch the fur cape and hat for a cool, streamlined look. San layers a white tank over a black slip dress. You can do the same, or find a colorblock black and white top to pair with a black skater skirt.

To evoke the necklace of teeth that keeps San’s cape around her shoulders, add a shark tooth necklace. Grab one of the beachy hemp ones you inevitably collected in middle school or go classy with gold. Any necklace with a triangular pendant will do, really.

A pair of white pendant earrings brings attention to your face. The gold trim on this pair works with the gold of the necklace to pull the outfit together. Add a smear of lipstick as red as San’s face paint as the finishing touch.

It’s a minimalistic approach to Princess Mononoke, with the elements of her look pared down to the very basics, but her fierce strength still shines through. And whether you spend your days in a tree to prevent it from being chopped down or just own a recycling bin, I’m sure you’ll agree that minimalism keeps resource consumption low, which is totally in line with San’s passion for the forest.

Although if you’re currently residing in a tree, this might not be the most practical thing to wear.


My Neighbor Totoro

Mei OutfitSatsuki and Mei are sisters who move into an old house with their father to be closer to their hospitalized mother. While Satsuki attends school, Mei’s curiosity leads to the discovery of Totoro, a big friendly creature living in the giant tree just behind their new home.

Mei does all her adventuring in a casual pink sleeveless dress, which she layers with a white blouse. For an updated look, replace the puff sleeves with long ones. Mei is a girl who ascribes to function before form, and she’s all set with bright yellow accents that contrast with the pink and white of her ensemble. While traipsing around the village on Totoro-related missions, Mei keeps her feet comfortable in yellow mary janes. Her yellow satchel frees up her arms pick up the mysterious acorns she finds and holds them for safekeeping.

A few pieces of jewelry reference Mei’s first meeting with Totoro: acorn earrings like the ones she finds in a trail leading to Totoro’s hiding place, and a leaf-shaped necklace that could have been plucked off Totoro’s massive tree itself. Finally, sweep black nail polish onto your fingertips and see if you can convince anyone that you were catching soot spirits like the ones running rampant in Satsuki and Mei’s new house.

 


Of course, these are only a selection of Ghibli characters (or anime characters, for that matter). So tell us, what are some of your two-dimensional style icons?

Don’t Distress: De-Stress

Story by Anna M. Park. 

Nagging headache? Can’t sleep? Not very productive at work? It could be stress. Left unchecked, chronic stress may play a part in up to 80 percent of diseases and illnesses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — everything from insomnia to hypertension to premature aging to even death.

And boy, are we feeling it. According to the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America survey for 2013, 43 percent of women say their stress levels have increased in the last five years. In fact, the APA report showed that Millennials and Gen Xers experience the most stress and the least relief — they have higher stress levels than older generations and they are not managing it well. This is supported by a recent study in the Journal of Applied Psychology, which found that not only were women more stressed than men but 20-year-olds were more stressed than 30-somethings.

If that doesn’t scare you into de-stressing, how about these unsavory tidbits: Chronic stress leads to obesity, acne and infertility, and a recent study found that men found women with a high level of the stress hormone cortisol less attractive.

Stressing about de-stressing yet? Relaaaaaax. We’ve done the research for you and found a variety of experts to provide easy tips on how to take it down a notch in our everyday lives.

 


MEDITATE
According to Marilyn Tam, the author of the best-selling book The Happiness Choice, meditation is natural. If you’ve ever “been in the zone,” where “there is no other thought; you are fully present and immersed in whatever it is you are doing” — that, she says, is a key aspect of meditation.” Here, Tam’s step-by-step guide to meditating.

1. Find a quiet space where you will be undisturbed. Turn off all electronic devices.

2. Give yourself a window of open time; to start with, it can be as short as 15 or 20 minutes. You may want to set a timer so that you don’t have to keep checking on the time.

3. Relax your body, stretch, move your arms and legs and gently roll your head from side to side and front to back. Sigh. Move your face muscles. Loosen the tightness in your body and mind so that you are able to be fully present.

4. Sit comfortably with your back straight in a chair or on a cushion. Let your hands lay comfortably on your knees or rest your hands on your lap, right hand on top of left, with your thumbs touching each other — this is the Samadhi mudra, the hand gesture that promotes calmness. Close your eyes or keep them half open, focusing on an object like a lit candle. Breathe in deeply and exhale slowly and gently. Repeat without using force in your inhale and exhale. Observe your breath as you breathe in and out. When thoughts come, mentally push them aside without judging them. Return to your breathing. Continue on this cycle of breathing, clearing away thoughts, breathing.

5. At the end of the meditation time, slowly bring your consciousness back to your surroundings; make note of any insights you may have glimpsed in your quiet time.

A former corporate executive, Marilyn Tam, Ph.D., is an author, speaker, consultant and certified coach. Her radio show, The Happiness Choice, on FMG Network is broadcast globally to more than 30 million listeners. Find out more at marilyntam.com. 


SCENT
With rampant stress, “our bodies have lost the balance between our sympathetic (fight or flight response) and parasympathetic (repair and restore response) nervous systems ,” says Marc Zollicoffer, director of Aveda Spa Education. “We are in a constant state of flight or fight and not spending enough time resting and regenerating.” Based on studies that show that aroma has an effect on the brain’s hypothalamus, which controls the stress cycle in the body, clinical aromaologist Pierre Franchomme and Aveda created the Stress Fix aroma. Clinical testing showed that the aroma, a combination of certified organic French lavender, clary sage and lavindin (a hybrid of true and spike lavender) essences, relieves feelings of stress, significantly increasing positive moods and feelings of relaxation.
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MASSAGE
Perhaps nothing is as stress relieving as a massage. At OleHenriksen Face/Body Spa, the Hot Stone massage uses volcanic basalt river rocks for their heat retention properties, combining thermotherapy with massage techniques. The treatment revs up the parasympathetic system, but it also has a metaphysical “earth energy component” for energy balancing — the masseuse literally bathes the stones in full moonlight every other month. You lay on a sheet, your spinal column nestled between two rows of river rocks, while the masseuse kneads your arms, feet and legs, placing warm stones on your chakras (along your torso, under the knees, even between the toes). According to the masseuse, the heat from the stones relaxes muscle groups and increases circulation and lymphatic drainage, allowing for deeper massage work due to increased blood flow. It’s like being kneaded with rounded, solidified silk, and afterwards the kink in our shoulder was almost gone and we drove home stress-free. Details Olehenriksen.com.

DIY MASSAGE
Can’t get to a spa? Treat yourself to a mini-facial massage at home to knead out tension, especially in the jaw and forehead. A luxurious massage milk with micro-collagens to plump skin. Massage on and go straight to bed — no rinsing necessary. Koh Gen Do Royal Massage Milk.

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SLEEP
According to the APA’s 2013 Stress in America survey, stress keeps 46 percent of women (and more than 52 percent of Millennials and 48 percent of Gen Xers) lying awake at night. And yet it’s sleep that we need to lower cortisol levels. Take steps to ensure you get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep. Cut back on caffeine, stop screen time (TV, iPad, smartphone) at least one hour before bedtime and go to sleep at the same time each night to set circadian rhythms. Spray your sheets with calming lavender and get a cooling orthotic pillow (like Proper Pillow, proper- pillow.com) specially made to properly align your neck and spine for a truly restorative sleep.

 


 

YOGA
Yoga instructor Sunina Young shows us how these poses can help de-stress, even if you’ve never done a downward dog in your life.

Yoga helps you retrain your stress response by encouraging you to fully focus on your breath through poses. You can use this practical breathing technique in any life situation as well. As you go through each pose below, breathe and simply let it go. If a stressful thought sneaks into your mind, mentally say a calming affirmation like,“I now release all feelings of stress.”

Breathing Technique for Poses:
Inhale through your nose for seven counts, exhale through your nose for eight counts. Let whatever you are feeling pass naturally. Repeat this breathing pattern throughout your poses.

Calming Pose 1 (Moderate)
Hero pose (shown below, left) is great for improved digestion, better posture and knee, calf, ankle relief (calling all ladies in heels!). Start by standing on your knees so they are aligned with your hips. Press the tops of your feet down and into the ground. Open your calves out to the sides and sit your hips down to the ground, your behind between your heels. (If your butt doesn’t touch the ground, sit on a yoga block or a rolled up yoga mat.) Sit up tall, twist to the right, right hand placed behind you, left hand resting on top of the right thigh. Stay for seven to 10 breaths. Repeat on the other side. Affirmation: “All the tension in my muscles release freely.”

Calming Pose 2 (Dynamic)
Camel pose is a back-bending pose that creates space in your chest and lungs for better breathing. Be sure your body is warmed up before you get into this pose. Start with your knees hip width apart and hands at your lower back, spine lengthened and tall, crown of the head neutral, shoulders rolled back. With a deep breath in, lean back slowly with your chin tucked in. Thighs are spiraling inwards to maintain a strong foundation as you lean back further. Lift your chest as you lean further back. Only lean back where your body threshold permits. Reach your hands back to your heels and extend your head back slowly. Stay for seven to 10 breaths. Affirmation: “I am cool, calm and collected.”

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Sunina Young is a yoga instructor and blogger in New York City. Check out her blog at sunina.com.


If all else fails, just laugh. “The very act of moving your facial muscles to form a smile is already prompting your body to release endorphins,” says Tam. “Endorphins interact with the opiate receptors in the brain to reduce our perception of pain and to increase feelings of euphoria, so we feel fewer negative effects of stress.” At the very least, we’ll look more attractive to the opposite sex.

 

This story was originally published in our Spring 2014 issue. Get your copy here.

SNEAK PEAK: ‘The Nice Girls Crew’

Story by Rachel Chen. 

Missed the Nice Girls?  Be sure to tune in because the The Nice Girls Crew will be back on April 28th and this second season promises to bring more senseless and humorous banter.

In the first season, writer and creator Christine Kwon introduced the ultimate dysfunctional trio. Dramatic, unpredictable and impulsive Geraldine is played by Michelle Krusiec (What Happens in Vegas, Sweet Home Alabama, Saving Face). Classy and semi-neurotic Sophie is played by Lynn Chen (Saving Face, Lakeview Terrace, Yes, We’re Open) and raunchy Leena is played by none other than Sheetal Sheth (Looking for Comedy in a Muslim WorldYes, We’re Open)

This hilarious trio comes together for the most unlikely of activities: a book club. Books brought to the table have included the Harry Potter series, Dave Egger’s “A Heartbreaking Work of the Staggering Genius” and even “Zen in the Art of Archery” –- but there has yet to be an episode where they actually discuss the book. Instead, they talk about everything from vampires to teddy bears to prescription drugs (the amount of alcohol consumed during discussions probably has something to do with the off-topic tangents). Needless to say, The Nice Girl Crew is anything but a conventional women’s book club!

Season one was filled with Geraldine’s bad case of 80’s hair, Sophie’s unsuccessful efforts to keep the peace and Leena’s inability to actually care about books… even though she’s in a book club. Of course, this is nothing compared to what season two has in store.

 

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In season two, more talented actors will be gracing us with their appearances in the episodes. For the first time for this show, a little bit of testosterone will be added. Actor Leonardo Nam, known for his roles in The Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, will be playing Donatello, Sophie’s personal assistant. Of course, no American television show with more than two Asian characters is complete without the occasional visits from the worldly Asian mother to mix things up; hence, The Joy Luck Club actress Tsai Chin will be appearing in the show as Geraldine’s mother.

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For those of you looking for a girl’s night-in, join in on all the fun and adventure with the girls! Look for this all-new second season featured on Youtube, Vimeo, and audreymagazine.com! After all, what could be more entertaining than a little bit of crude humor, impulsive spontaneity and a whole lot of sass?

Watch the Season 2 trailer below and CLICK HERE TO SEE A SNEAK PEAK OF THE NEW SEASON!