Do You Love or Hate Her? Maria Kang Puts Up Yet Another Controversial Photo

Maria Kang, otherwise known as “fit mom,” is no stranger to controversy. The 32-year-old mother of three caused a social media uproar when she posted a photo of herself in a sports bra and short shorts, surrounded by her three young sons. A caption reading “Whats your excuse?” sparked a fire of online debates questioning whether or not the image was insulting to other women.

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Many of those who commented on her picture considered her an inspiration and applauded her for being proud of what she worked hard to achieve. Others felt like the caption rudely pointed a finger at overweight mothers by saying they make excuses even if there may be various reasons for their weight gain.

Of course, that was not the end of it. She decided to re-post the picture with an “apology,” but admits that it’s actually a “non-apology.”

I’m sorry you took an image and resonated with it in such a negative way,” she wrote. “I won’t go into details that I struggled with my genetics, had an eating disorder, work full time owning two businesses, have no nanny, am not naturally skinny and do not work as a personal trainer,” she wrote, in part. “What I WILL say is this. What you interpret is not MY fault. It’s yours. The first step in owning your life, your body and your destiny is to OWN the thoughts that come out of your own head. I didn’t create them. You created them. So if you want to continue ‘hating’ this image, get used to hating many other things for the rest of your life.

 

Kang then made an appearance on the Today show to voice her opinion that she shouldn’t apologize if people misunderstood her picture. As you can can expect, her actions were met with both praise and criticism. Simply put, people either loved Maria Kang or hated Maria Kang.

More recently, Kang was in the hotseat for publicizing her thoughts when she came across an online article which featured plus sized women posing in lingerie. She wrote:

The popular and unrelenting support received to those who are borderline obese (not just 30-40lbs overweight) frustrates me as a fitness advocate who intimately understands how poor health negatively effects a family, a community and a nation. While I think it’s important to love and accept your body, I was a little peeved because I think that we’re normalizing obesity in our society.

 

Half the people said her words were a “hate speech” while the other half defended her and said everyone is entitled to their own opinion.Kang does not appear to be phased by all the comments. Yesterday she posted the following picture.

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Already, the photo been shared nearly 1,500 times and has gathered nearly 15,000 likes. Once again, her photo was flooded with love and hate. Is she a show-off or is she inspiring? Is she a bully or is she simply trying to show the importance of exercise? Kang seems to have heard it all. She has even set up a page which answers most of the questions thrown at her. She has also started the No Excuse Mom Group which encourages mothers to prioritize their health first.

So tell us what you think. Do you love or hate Maria Kang?

Does the Korean Entertainment Industry Place Too Much Pressure? Reality Show Contestant Commits Suicide

Story by Y. Peter Kang. 

A cast member of a South Korean blind-date reality show was found dead of what appears to be suicide on Wednesday as the show was being shot on Jeju Island, according to the Korea Times.

The 29-year-old office worker, surnamed Jeon, was found dead in a bathroom of her room at a bed-and-breakfast inn. The show’s crew reportedly forced their way into the locked bathroom after a fellow cast member became concerned.

Police found a note next to her body which stated, “I am very sorry to my mom and dad. I don’t want to live anymore because life is too tough.”

Shooting for the dating show, called Jjak, began on Feb. 27 and documents the activities of 10 or more men and women who live in a “love village” for one week. The final show was set to be filmed on the day of Jeon’s death.

Prompted by public outcry, SBS said it would not air the episodes in which Jeon appeared.

Many argued that producers often cause excessive stress to those who appear on the show by only choosing good-looking candidates with superior background. Jeon was regarded as an ordinary office worker.

 

“Even celebrities come under a great deal of stress when details of their private life are exposed. The cast members of Jjak are just ordinary people. They can be under huge pressure and stress,” said Kim Ju-wan, a netizen, commented on the show’s bulletin board.

The broadcaster said in a statement, “We apologize once again, and we will do our best to prevent similar cases from taking place ever again.”

 

 

This story was originally published in iamkoream.com.

Kickass Asian Artists Performing at COACHELLA

Story by Taylor Weik. 

Temperatures may have been chilly in early January of this year, but the 2014 lineup for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival had just been announced, and all anyone could talk about was springtime and the shorts and tanks they’d get to wear in April under the hot Indio sun.

Coachella has consistently set the bar higher and higher in terms of surprises each year, the most recent example being Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre’s performance with a hologrammed Tupac in 2012. What could Coachella have in store for us this year? Judging from the lineup, more kickass Asian artists.

Take one of the Dum Dum Girls. The all-female rock band was started back in 2008 by singer-songwriter Dee Dee Penny, and their current drummer is Sandra “Sandy” Vu, who is of Vietnamese descent. When she’s not drumming for the girl group, Vu fronts her own music project, SISU. The drummer can also play guitar, piano and flute.

 

Then there’s Edward Ma, also known as edIT, one of the three members of The Glitch Mob, the L.A.-based electronic music group. Ma began deejaying during his college years at USC and then began producing music professionally as the Con Artist.

Alisa Xayalith is the frontwoman of the New Zealand electro rock ensemble The Naked and Famous, known for their hit song “Young Blood,” and is of Laotian descent. The vocalist manages fine in a band of all men –– she grew up in New Zealand with three brothers.

Bo Ningen is a four-piece punk band that hails from Tokyo. The members — Taigen, Kohhei, Yuki and Mon-chan — refer to themselves as “enlightenment activists from far east psychedelic underground.”

Representing the R&B genre is solo artist Jhené Aiko, who, among other ethnicities, is Japanese. Known for her soft, relaxed vocals on tracks by Drake and Childish Gambino, Aiko is easing into her own. The singer released her EP Sail Out last year and plans to drop her debut album in May.

Coachella runs on two weekends from April 11 to 20 and is already sold out. With the popularity of Coachella increasing each year, it’s cool to see a parallel growth in the diversity of its performing artists.

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

VOICES CARRY: Awkwafina

Story by Ada Tseng. 

In so many ways, music defines a generation or a culture, giving us the soundtrack to our multilayered, bicultural landscape. And the 10 women we highlight here not only lay it all on the line and bare their souls in their music but, each in their own way, do much to round out a picture of what it is to be an Asian woman in America. Our cover girl Yuna defies the modern definition of pop star with her inimitable voice juxtaposed with a girl-crush-worthy style of chic turbans and covered-up ensembles. We have the gossamer voiced Priscilla Ahn, whom we feel like we’ve grown with as her life journey (and music) goes from melancholy to bliss. Then there’s the flame-haired Hmong American hard rocker and an indefinable artist whose voice is featured in one of the hottest hits of the year. From sweet little ditties to feminist anthems, from odes written in the throes of love to songs that feel more like a cathartic purging, their music moves us, inspires us, rocks us. Take a glimpse into the meaning and memories behind the melodies. 


 

Nora Lum — the Chinese- Korean American rapper known as Awkwafina, who in 2013 made a name for herself with her viral hits “My Vag” (a response to Mickey Avalon’s 2006 song “My Dick”), “NYC Bitche$” and “Mayor Bloomberg (Giant Margaritas)” — admits that her catchy moniker doesn’t really mean anything. She chose it mostly because it sounded ridiculous as a rap name. “I always think it’s hilarious when companies attempt to feminize a product,” she says, “and I always knew that Awkwafina wasn’t a rap game name where people would be misled about the kind of music [I] would be making.”

As a kid growing up in Queens, N.Y., Lum, 25, was influenced by the musical tastes of her Chinese American dad (Bob Dylan, Townes van Zandt), and she started her musical journey playing trumpet, inspired by the likes of Chet Baker and Louis Armstrong. Though she never intended to become a rapper, nowadays, she’s drawing attention with her funny, provocative and very share-able videos, while also being respected for her beats, rhymes and tongue-in-cheek delivery. Her debut album Yellow Ranger (also the title of one of the tracks) was released in February.

First Song: I think the first song I ever wrote (and actually sang and recorded) was when I was 15 around Christmas. I had this holiday songbook for my trumpet with an instrumental background CD. Basically, it was a really lowbrow, raunchy cover of “Jingle Bell Rock” that I don’t have to go into right now.

Inspiration for Her New Single “Queef:” There were literally tiny drunken cherubs farting out light when I had this idea. It came out of nowhere. Basically, I had this (almost spiritual) vision of a woman being endowed with superhero powers that manifested into earth-shattering queefs [slang for vaginal flatulence]. Unfortunately, the vision didn’t quite continue into what would actually happen once she had the “queefage” or how it would help fix the world’s problems.

Why Yellow Ranger: When I was young, I played Power Rangers with all my friends and remember feeling angry when people said I should play Trini [the Yellow Ranger]. I always wanted to be Tommy or Jason, or Kimberly if I had to pick a girl. Trini was seriously lame to me as a kid. But as an adult, the connotations Trini carried with her seemed less offensive and (as much as I detest the word) empowering.

On Being Labeled a Feminist Icon for Songs like “My Vag:” I minored in women’s studies in college, so it would be wrong of me to deny knowledge about the importance of female visibility in certain industries. At the same time, I think it’s also important for people to understand that rapping about vaginas is something I do because I own one. Rapping about being a woman is something I have to do by default because I’m also not a heterosexual man with a penis. I think that making songs that bring up blush-worthy content can be easily confused as either aggressive, rogue feminism or being a girl without a social filter at parties. At the same time, I am proud that my music has been embraced by other women and celebrated as something good for feminism.

 

 Wanna hear “My Vag?” Go to AudreyMagazine.com/awkwafina.    

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

Why Has China Fallen in Love With These Siblings?

Here at Audrey Magazine, we have two series that seem to do particularly well: The Daily SHAG (Smoking Hot Asian Guy) and Adorable Asian Babies.

So what happens when you combine the two topics? Apparently, you get China’s new viral sensation.

David Woo, a young man from Guangzhou, China, began his Weibo account in 2010. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Weibo, it is described as China’s version of Twitter. Much like many other young adults in their early 20’s, Woo had a typical amount a followers that consisted of his family and friends.

But then, Woo began posting pictures of himself alongside his sister Peipei. The adorable girl is 18 years younger than her brother and proved to be a social media magnet. Soon, Woo discovered that his brother-sister posts would get over 100,000 likes on the social media platform.

Clearly, David Woo had stumbled upon something special. Maybe it’s the adorable amount of love between the siblings. Maybe it’s because Chinese netizens like looking at an older brother who takes very good care of his little sister. Whatever the reason may be, China can’t get enough of the duo.

Check out the adorable sibling pictures for yourself.

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Spring 2014 Cover Story featuring Singer-Songwriter YUNA

Story by Ada Tseng. 

Singer-songwriter Yuna Zarai (known as Yuna) has a quick and easy remedy for writer’s block: “I just call up my best friends and ask, ‘Hey, do you have any drama that I can write about?’ Usually, they’re like, ‘Sure!’ And then I’ll show them [the resulting song] as a gift.” She laughs. “My friends are so easy.”

Many of her self-penned songs are about relationships — from happy-in-love songs (“Lullabies,” “Favourite Thing”) to heartbreak (“Mountains,” “I Want You Back”) to a perfectly satisfactory fling you know won’t last (“Lovely Intermission”). “Decorate,” a song from her first international EP in 2010, about missing a recently departed lover so much that you keep your home decorated with objects that the person likes just in case he or she comes back, is another example of a track inspired by one of her male friends. “It’s such a sad song, and a lot of people think I went through that,” she says. “[But] I’m really close to my best friends, so if they feel sad, I feel sad, too. It’s emotionally draining, but I get affected immediately.”

The 27-year-old grew up in Malaysia, making a name for herself in her home country before relocating to Los Angeles a few years ago. Her self-titled international album Yuna, released in 2012, had a famous supporter in Pharrell Williams, who produced her hit single “Live Your Life” and often mentioned her name when interviewers would ask him about new artists to follow. In addition to her music, Yuna is a fashion trendsetter as well. She runs her own online store November Culture, and earlier this year, she launched her own clothing line 14NOV, which features more conservative clothing such as headscarves, turtleneck maxi-dresses and oversized cardigans. “There are a lot of girls, especially in Los Angeles, that want to dress up sexy and fabulous,” she says, “but there are also a bunch of girls like me that would rather cover up!”

The Malaysian singer has gotten a lot of questions about her Muslim heritage since her debut in the United States, a country not accustomed to seeing a pretty girl in a turban singing and strumming her guitar onstage, but Yuna tends to downplay any potential politics in favor of talking about her music. In some ways, despite her uniqueness (the eye-poppingly beautiful fashion plate would stand out in a crowd even if she weren’t the star of the show), she comes across as your typical girl-crush. Dressed in a shimmery black-gold headscarf with gold statement necklaces and a long, black pleated skirt (“I’m really into black and gold right now,” she says), she was charismatic performing at a sold-out Bootleg Theater show in Los Angeles last December, for an audience that happened to include her own parents who had flown out from Malaysia to see her.

Yuna started creating music on the piano when she was 14, but songwriting remained a mystery to her until she picked up the guitar at 19. As soon as she learned how to play three chords, she started making up songs for her friends, teasing them about liking boys or not being over their exes.

Yuna essentially learned English through music. “At first, it was just me re-creating songs I already knew,” she says. (Her English is now fluent, with only a hint of Malay accent.) Inspired by many American female singer-songwriters, including Fiona Apple and Lauryn Hill, as well as Malaysian artists like Ning Baizura and Sheila Majid, Yuna says she feels more comfortable writing lyrics in English, where you can be more conversational. “Malay is such a beautiful language that when you write songs in Malay, it has to be poetic.” She’s only written seven Malay songs — one per year she’s been in the business, she jokes.

“Deeper Conversation” was the first song she wrote that garnered public attention. In her last term studying law at university, she started a MySpace page for her music. Soon enough, she started getting requests to perform at jazz bars in Kuala Lumpur, the radio began playing her songs, and she was making a name for herself in the Malaysian independent music scene.

Her father, who worked in law but loved playing the guitar, was especially supportive, as he was the one who used to take his daughter to record stores when she was younger. “He said, ‘Only once in a while is there someone like you who can write music, so you have to pursue it,’” Yuna remembers.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, Carlo Fox and Ben Willis from the indie record label and management company Indie-Pop Music had stumbled upon Yuna online. At the time, MySpace had an independent music chart, and Yuna’s Malay music was in the Top 10. If only she sang in English, they thought. When they found she did, they became obsessed with finding her.

Yuna admits she was a little suspicious of these American strangers who wanted to meet her. When she didn’t respond, Willis went on Facebook and started friend-requesting as many of her followers as he could (at the time, she had about 300,000; now, she has almost 2 million).

“She probably thought I was an Internet stalker,” says Willis. “But literally, the first person to hit me back happened to be her mom, who told her, ‘Just get on the phone with this guy. He sounds really nice!’”

“I probably didn’t respond until six months later,” says Yuna. “I was busy, and I didn’t have the courage to think about going to America. But in the end, because I had all this English music that never made it in Malaysia, I knew that I couldn’t discover my own true strength until I gave it a try.”

“I had never been to Malaysia,” says Willis, who ended up flying over by himself to meet Yuna. “But when I got there, she and her cousin picked me up, and she gave me the key to my hotel. She said, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll take care of you when you’re out here.’ And I was like, ‘Wait, what? I’m the one who’s trying to sign you.’ But I hung out with her, her bandmates and her family members for three days. We really clicked. I said, ‘Look, I want to help bring your music to rest of world,’ and the rest is history.”

Last October, Yuna released her second album, Nocturnal, on the Verve Records label. This work allowed her to experiment further in creating her signature sound — pop with hints of traditional Malay music. “Falling” uses an African thumb piano called the kalimba to make a gamelan sound, heard in a lot of Southeast Asian music. “Mountains” was inspired by what Yuna calls “a Borneo vibe,” whereas “I Wanna Go” makes use of the kompang, a Malay tambourine.

But her hit single “Rescue,” inspired by the Malay music form dikir barat, might be the one song that you can’t get out of your head. A women empowerment ballad inspired by her girlfriends, as well as influential women she had just met at a United Nations event, the chorus is about how even when things in life get a little difficult, the girl’s got light in her face / She don’t need no rescuing, she’s OK.

In 2012, Yuna was recognized with a National Youth Icon Award, awarded by the prime minister of Malaysia for her exceptional achievements in arts. But nowadays, it’s not just Malaysian fans that gush about her influence anymore.

“Once the rest of the world feels the way we feel about her, she’s going to be a game-changer,” says Willis. “And not just from the musical perspective. Whenever she’s ready, I think she’s a massive cultural figure who’s been put here to do important things.”

Want more Yuna? CLICK HERE to hear her alluring, can’t-get-it-out-of-your-head music. 

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

Paris Fashion Week: Chinese Designer Yang Li

Story by Ruby Veridiano.

There was something eerie in the air inside the Palais des Beaux Arts as everyone hushed to prepare for Yang Li’s Autumn/Winter 2014 debut. Perhaps it was the elongated silence followed by Bruce Springsteen’s somber voice belting “Dream Baby Dream” that created a bit of a haunting feeling. That, and the word “DREAMER” in all capital letters mysteriously kept appearing.

It felt as if everyone in the room held their breath until the first look appeared on the runway. It was a steely blue dress that stopped inches above the kneecaps, clean and crisp except for the waist, where an overflowing peplum spilled out to be caught and held by the model’s right arm. If one piece described the tone of the entire show, it would be this one– a contrast between the seriousness of Li’s tailoring and an effort to bring an air of optimism through volume. Models slowly sauntered down the runway with a detached demeanor about them, adding to the air of seriousness, mystery, and goth. And yet, by etching the word “DREAMER” in a floor length skirt and an oversized top, Li still makes an effort to infuse a ray of hope amidst the gloom, making for something beautifully strange.

With black as a dominant color, asymmetrical, long-sleeved dresses paraded down the runway with lengths long in the front and short in the back. Paired with black hats, it looked like an outfit fit for a modern day witch with a prerogative to cast her spell. Burgundy and camel also made the palette, appearing as high-buttoned jackets, long skirts, and straight-legged pants that reminded me of military uniforms.

Fur pieces and unexpected peplums disrupted some of the seriousness in Li’s designs, hinting at a bit of whimsy. After all, no matter how dark a personality, there is indeed, a dreamer inside everyone.

Yang Li is a Chinese designer born in Beijing. He moved to Australia at age 10 where he played basketball and skateboarded frequently. He studied fashion in London at the famed Central Saint Martins School. He is a protégé of Raf Simons.

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Asian Designers at the 86th Academy Awards

While we’re ecstatic for Robert Lopez, the first Filipino American to win an Oscar for composing Frozen‘s “Let it Go,” the Academy Awards was once again slim when it came to Asian nominees.

But there were plenty of Asian-designed gowns gracing the red carpet at the 86th annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.86th Annual Academy Awards - ArrivalsEmma Watson, who joined Joseph Gordon-Levitt in presenting the award for best achievement in visual effects, dazzled in a metallic gray and black Vera Wang dress.86th Annual Academy Awards - ArrivalsA very pregnant Kerry Washington, star of the hit show Scandal, sports her baby bump in a simple lavender Jason Wu number.

oscars384 year-old June Squibb, one of the best supporting actress nominees for her role as Kate Grant in Nebraska (she lost to 12 Years a Slave actress Lupita Nyong’o) wears an emerald green, form-fitting Tadashi Shoji dress.oscars4Idina Menzel, who showed off her powerhouse vocals last night in a performance of “Let it Go” –– the hit song from Frozen that ended up winning best original song –– wears a sweeping Vera Wang dress.

Robert Lopez: The First Filipino American to Win an Oscar for Composing Frozen’s “Let it Go”

Last night, during the 86th Academy Awards, Robert Lopez and his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez won the best song award for “Let It Go,” from Disney’s Frozen.

The success of “Let it Go” is undeniable. Robert Lopez has composed a song which has become a worldwide phenomenon that has inspired countless covers, parodies and tributes. But an even more inspiring success is that Lopez has made history by being the very first Filipino American to win an Oscar.

Additionally, Lopez is the first Fil-Am to join a prestigious group called “Egot” which consists of individuals who have won the four top entertainment awards: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony.

How rare is this group? It contains only 12 individuals including Audrey Hepburn and Whoopi Goldberg.

Previously, Robert Lopez received Emmys for his music direction and composition in “The Wonder Pets,” a Grammy for “The Book of Mormon: Original Broadway Cast Recording” and two Tonys for “Avenue Q” and “The Book of Mormon.”

A few days before the Academy Awards, Lopez spoke to Inquirer.net about his nomination. Lopez apparently didn’t even know he was in the running to be the first Filipino American Oscar-winner.

“I was not aware of that! Wow,” Lopez exclaimed. “I hope, win or lose, that Filipino artists everywhere take my example as proof that you don’t have to look a certain way for your dreams to come true. It just takes hard work, perseverance and some luck.”

After winning the Oscar, Lopez once again acknowledged his Filipino heritage during a backstage press conference.

“Filipino pride. I’m so excited. I’m just sending love to the Philippines. I know they’ve had a tough year and I just send out my feelings to them,” he said, referring to Typhoon Haiyan which ravaged the Philippines last November.

In fact, Lopez revealed that he and his wife are planning a benefit concert for the Philippines on March 12 in New York.

 
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Audrey’s Spring 2014 Cover Revealed!

Audrey’s Spring 2014 covergirl is none other than singer-songwriter Yuna!

“[At first] I didn’t have the courage to think about going to America. But in the end, because I had all this English music that never made it in Malaysia, I knew that I couldn’t discover my own true strength until I gave it a try.” 

Get your copy of Audrey Magazine‘s Spring 2014 issue here.