Facing the Big 3-0 … Single

Story by Kanara Ty. 

When you’re programmed to believe happiness equals marriage and kids by 30 — and they’re nowhere in sight — what’s a 29-year-old (and her angst-ridden mother) to do? 

When I was in college, my mother found out I was seeing somebody for the first time. So she did the one thing that comes most naturally to her: she confided in a fortuneteller. I’m not talking about Miss Cleo and her crystal ball; more like a Buddhist monk at the local temple. It was something she grew obsessive about because, every week, she would tell me a new fortune.

I heard fortunes ranging from “He told me that the best guy for you is the one I pick for you” to “You should graduate first before you fall in love with someone” — which led me to question whether she was actually confiding in someone else or, really, just herself.

But then one week, there came a fortune that was really specific and struck a chord with me: “When you turn 26, you will meet three guys. The third guy will be the one you marry — and you will be married by 27.”

I became obsessed with the idea, even more so than my mother. I scrutinized everything about myself at the time (my looks, my body, my career) and I became a bit of a H.A.M. — a Hot Asian Mess. My mom added on to my own over-scrutinizing by constantly bombarding me with questions like “Are you a good enough catch?” “Are you appealing enough to men?” Rather than letting fate take its course, I was determined to see that fortune come true.

When I turned 26, I did indeed meet three guys — all of which turned out to be men I’d never marry even if you’d paid me. But up until that point, I believed I was going to be betrothed, have a wonderful career and even think seriously about having a couple of kids. All before I turned 30. It wasn’t just my dream, but a shared dream among my friends. That dream stemmed mainly from our immigrant parents’ expectations because they didn’t want us to go through the same financial hardships they did. We grew up believing that finding security and stability was the path to happiness.

But of course, life didn’t pan out the way I had hoped. For those keeping track, I’m about one for three on the Asian American immigrant dream scoreboard: I’ve got a solid career, but I’m not married with kids nor do I own any property. About half of my friends are married with their own homes and some even have kids already. My social media feeds went from being filled with episodes of debauchery to minute-by-minute updates on child-rearing. As for me, I’m about to enter my 30th year in a couple of months, and I’m definitely not getting married anytime soon (nor do I have any intention of doing so). Just like that, my dreams changed because I had to rethink a happiness that was my own and not one tied to the Asian American immigrant dream.

Thankfully, my mother no longer asks about making her a grandmother anytime soon. (She used to forget that a partner is necessary before I go into the baby-making phase.) Instead, she asks when I’m going to buy a house. She’s slowly accepting the fact that I’ll be a career-minded serial dater for a while, so she’s using buying property as her new marker for security and stability.

Dreams may change, but nagging Asian moms never will.

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

Adorable Image of The Day: Couple Recreates Photo 51 Years Later

Some say that romantic love doesn’t exist anymore and who can blame them? After all, there’s a Korean website for “discreet cheating” and in Japan, people have resorted to virtual girlfriends.

Luckily for us, there are still some believers of love and every now and then they help us believe in it too.

The Twitter account History in Pictures shows us exactly what it’s title suggests. They post pictures of a New York blizzard in 1888, a San Francisco drive-in theater in the early 90′s and even a rare picture of Charlie Chaplin and Helen Keller.

Recently, they posted an image that has been capturing hearts. An Asian couple posed for a picture in 1963 and then recreated the picture in 2014 at the exact same spot. The picture was only uploaded last night, but it has already gathered nearly 4,000 retweets and over 7,000 favorites.

Unfortunately, no one seems to know who this adorable mystery couple is. We’d like nothing more than to get in contact with them and thank them for reminding us of how love looks like.

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Dating Culture Shock: The Good, Bad and Fetishism of Modern-Day Dating in Japan

Story by Paul Nakayama. 

After decades of the singles scene in America, columnist Paul Nakayama discovers the good, bad and fetishism of modern-day dating in his ancestral home of Japan. 

Why would I forsake the moderate temperatures of Los Angeles and spend six weeks in the freezing, ball-numbing winters of Japan? The same reason I’ve always tortured myself— a girl. Well, and ramen. Really, really good ramen. But mostly, it’s for a girl. And while I was there, I made a few observations about the dating scene in Japan. They aren’t about my personal experiences per se, because this is my column and not my diary — I mean, journal. Men don’t keep diaries … not that I keep a journal. Wow, jet lag is nature’s crystal meth.

I should start by explaining that I was in Fukuoka, which is in southwestern Japan. If Tokyo, where I usually party in Japan, is like New York, then Fukuoka is like Chicago. In Fukuoka, like Chicago, people tend to get married while they’re still in their 20s or early 30s. So many of my girlfriend’s friends were already married. Otherwise, the first words from the single ones to me were, “Do you know any single men?”

Despite the marital aspirations of most of the people I met in Fukuoka, there was a contradictory and disappointing social trend, one that I’ve seen often in Asia. Cheating is a common occurrence. I don’t know the official numbers, but I met a lot of married men with mistresses and a lot of girls that were dating married men. It’s no surprise that in 2013 AshleyMadison.com (the affair-friendly website) made Japan its first Asian market. You can’t see my face, but I’m frowning, like I’m tempted to drive around Japan in a pickup with a TV in the back streaming Before Midnight.

But to get back on a positive note and to get back to the single people that are in search of true love, how do they find one another in Japan? While online dating is on the rise, the predominant method is undeniably the goukon, or group blind date. Basically, it’s a system where a single man and woman who know each other invite approximately four friends to meet at a restaurant or gastropub. It’s safer and less stressful. And genius. Oh, how I wish this could’ve been a possibility in my earlier years. The money saved from failed first dates aside, I — I mean, my friends — would’ve been spared all the emotional scars of humiliation. You know, like those horrible moments of dance-walking up to a girl at a club where she vehemently shakes her head “no,” and then having to shuffle back to the bar in shame. At goukon events, it becomes pretty clear who’s interested in whom, and it’s already established that everyone there is looking for something serious, meaning attendees can’t use the “I’m not ready for a relationship” line.

As great as goukons are, they aren’t infallible. Everyone is a friend of a friend, so at least there’s a level of trust. But honestly, how many of you know the sexual proclivities of your friends? Whenever my friends start dropping details, I cover my ears and sing Katy Perry songs. I heard this great/awful story of one goukon match gone awry. Apparently, they dated for a few weeks, but the guy always came up with some excuse not to let her go to his apartment. She finally found out why: he was an underwear fetishist with huge stashes of ladies’ used underwear. He’d buy them from vending machines. (They actually exist! I was as shocked as you to learn that it’s not an urban legend.) He’d even wear them to work. I may be embellishing at this point, but he might have peed on her, too. You know, I take it back. Goukons are perfect. Someone please go out there, host a goukon event and send your favorite stories to the Audrey office.

Now, once you’re dating, Japan has a whole slew of interesting and unique cultural options. For example, many people still live with their parents (or their spouses) and lack privacy, so many couples go to “love hotels,” which is essentially an upscale, usually gimmicky, pay-by-the-hour motel. They usually come equipped with karaoke, which is what I like to combine with sex (I didn’t watch porn growing up; I watched music videos). Another interesting difference is in the holidays. Christmas is Japan’s Valentine’s Day. It’s the busiest night of the year for restaurants. Interestingly, on Valentine’s Day in Japan, girls give chocolates to boys. Then a month later, on White Day, boys reciprocate. I don’t quite understand it, but it is kind of sweet.

It was a fascinating experience to hear everyone’s dating stories during my time in Fukuoka. In my case, I’m a Japanese American dating a Japanese girl, so I suppose we can pick and choose the best of both dating cultures. I like the idea of having two major romantic holidays, so we agreed to that. It was also comforting to both of us that I have no interest in wearing her underwear nor does she in mine. There are no love hotels in the U.S., at least not of the same hygienic and entertaining quality as found in Japan, so any music we make in the bedroom will have to be of our own making. Katy Perry, anyone?

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

Do Girls Find You Romantic or Creepy? The Answer Could Surprise You

Wong Fu Productions is awfully great at making us stop and really think about many of our everyday social situations. In one video, they made us realize just how crazy we look while we’re taking our foodies for instagram.  In a more recent video, they pointed out that as much as we deny it, we treat people differently if we think of them as “more than a friend.”

So what could be next on this list of social situations? The fine line between being romantic and being a creeper.

According to this video, there’s not much of a difference at all. Apparently, what categorizes you with the creepers or the romantics is whether or not the recipient is attracted to you.

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No matter how much I deny it, I can’t help but recall a number of times that I’ve seen this happen in real life. In fact many comments on youtube show women who agree and admit that they have been guilty of this. Of course, even more point out that men are just as guilty of this habit.

Watch the video below and tell us what you think. Is there really no difference between the romantic and the creeper?

 

Even More Korean Couples With Matching Outfits on Valentine’s Day

Recently, we showed you a very popular trend among couples in Korea. In an effort to publicly show their relationship, many couples will go for the “couple look.” They will match with the same color, shirt, shoes, or even go to extreme lengths and match head-to-toe in identical his-and-hers versions of an entire outfit.

There are many reasons for this phenomenon. Some couples use this as a way of showing affection. Others use it as a clear sign that they are off the market. Some have even reasoned that it makes a big fashion statement because it is so easily noticed.

Whatever the reason may be, matching couple outfits are getting more and more popular everyday. WWD wandered the streets of Seoul on Valentine’s Day to catch a glimpse of the “couple look.”

Sure enough, the matching outfits popped up everywhere during the romantic holiday. One couple argued that they didn’t need Valentine’s Day to be cute with one another. “We dress the same every day,” said Shin Seung-Chul and fiancée, Bae Jung-a.

Check out more couples who decided to flaunt their love for Valentine’s Day:

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Korean Couples Take Matching Outfits to the Next Level

Story by James S. Kim. 

If you’re looking for something other than chocolates and flowers to give to your significant other this Valentine’s Day, take a note from what many young couples are doing in South Korea on a daily basis.

The “couple look,” or publicly advertising a relationship by wearing matching outfits, is quite easy to spot on the streets, beaches and cafes of South Korea. While it can be as simple as a matching T-shirt or shoes, there are couples taking it to the next level, curating entire looks that match from head-to-toe, from jackets and pants to socks and underwear.

The “couple look” culture has understandably spawned a sizable market for specialized retailers, according to AFP. Many online retailers sell couple attire for snowboarding, swimming and running, as well as pajamas and lingerie for the more intimate moments.

There is no substantial data to show how well these businesses are doing, but many young Koreans say donning the couple look is a sweet way of showing affection for one another and even showing off their relationship in public. Married couples have also been getting in on it as a way of reaffirming their love.

Needless to say, things can get complicated if a relationship goes south. Articles of clothing are a bit more permanent than chocolate or flowers, but at least it’s not his-and-hers tattoos.

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This story was originally published in iamkoream.com 

Video of The Week: The Fastest (And Cutest) Baby Penguin is in Love

Valentine’s Day is around the corner and love is in the air. That certainly appears to be the case for this female cape penguin who lives at Matsue Vogel Park in Japan.

Matsue Vogel Park is one of the Largest indoor garden in the world and is situated in Matsue-shi, Shimane prefecture. It is an aviary park which houses a number of tropical birds such as toucans, turacos, hornbills and ibises. There are also a number of aquatic birds such as emus and, you guessed it, penguins.

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This particular penguin is named Sakura-Chan and from the looks of it, she seems absolutely smitten by the human caretaker. At least it seems that way since she won’t allow any distance between the two.

No matter how fast the caretaker runs, Sakura-Chan is right on his heels. Forget having a human Valentine this year. This quick and adorable penguin is sure to warm your heart.

Watch the video below.

 

Chinese Commercial Pressures Young Women Into Marriage

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, dating companies are seeing an influx of people who wouldn’t mind meeting “the one” before the romance-filled holiday gets here. Using Valentine’s Day to their advantage, many of these dating companies are doing whatever it takes to get more clients.

The Chinese dating company Baihe.com is no exception. They seem to have taken this determination to the extreme with a very personal commercial targeting young women.

In the commercial, an elderly grandmother keeps asking her granddaughter whether she is married yet. The young lady, who just graduated from college, is left to reply with a face of guilt and sadness.

As the grandmother gets closer and closer to death, the young woman decides that she shouldn’t be so picky and ought to make her grandmother happy. With grandma lying in a hospital bed, the young woman shows up in her wedding gown and with a groom. She has finally made her grandmother happy.

Cue the cheesy music and tear-filled smiles.

But wait. Is this commercial actually suggesting that one shouldn’t be picky with the person they will spend the rest of their life with?

Unfortunately, this commercial will probably make many young Asian women feel guilty. Even in America, Asian women feel this pressure. Often times, strict parents will warn their daughters not to date until they are done with school. The second graduation comes along, everything shifts and suddenly they are pressured to find a husband as soon as possible.

Confusing? You bet.

I don’t know about you, but we’re not really comfortable with a commercial using an aging grandma to guilt-trip young women into finding a man to marry.

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Watch the full commercial here. 

Everything You Need To Know About Valentine’s Day Traditions

With Valentine’s Day nearly a week away, we decided this post would make the perfect Throwback Thursday. Continue reading to find out everything you need to know about Valentine’s Day traditions:

Chocolates, hearts, roses, and love in the air. Yup, it definitely feels like Valentine’s Day. Although we’re accustomed to a number of Valentine’s Day traditions, we may not know where a lot of these traditions come from. In fact, many of us don’t even know the actual origin of Valentine’s Day itself. In honor of this holiday, we plan to explore everything from chocolate covered strawberries to cupid.


Giving Roses/Flowers To A Loved One

The custom of giving flowers to others dates back to the 18th century (introduced by Charles II of Sweden). During this time, floral bouquets were sent to pass on non-verbal messages. Each flower had a specific meaning or stood for a particular message and thus an entire conversation could occur purely through the flowers. Today, Valentine’s Day is the holiday which sends the largest amount of flowers. Roses are the most popular because it represents romantic love. Specifically, the red rose is showered in popularity due to its relationship with passionate love.


The Heart Symbol

The heart is said to be the source of all human emotions and the representation of love. It seems only fitting to use such a symbol for such an emotion-filled holiday. Because the shape of the heart is vastly different from the shape of an actual human heart, many suggestions have been thrown out as an explanation. Some have said that the shape was an attempt to portray an organ that they could not see. Others suggest that the shape is intended to represent various shapes of the female body.

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Cupid

Cupid originates from Roman mythology where he is the god of erotic love. Although classical Greek mythology  portrayed Cupid as a slender youth with wings, Cupid is now often seen as a young boy bearing a bow and arrows. Myths have suggested that being shot with Cupid’s arrow results in uncontrolled desire.


XOXO

Rather than spelling out the phrase hugs and kisses, people will often use the letters X and O. While the origin of O is unknown, we do have an idea for why X stands for kiss. In the middle ages (when reading and writing skills were scarce), documents were often signed with an X. The signer would then kiss the X in front of a witness to show earnest feelings. Similarly, in Christian history, people would kiss the X after signing an oath to prove sincerity.

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Chocolate

Although many people link the discovery of chocolate to Latin America nearly 2000 years ago, the Mayans and Aztecs seem to have delighted in the product even earlier. They would place cocoa beans in water to drink or even use cocoa beans as a form of money. People began realizing the correlation between chocolate and feelings of excitement, attraction, and pleasure- so much that nuns were forbidden to eat chocolate and French doctors used it to cure “broken hearts”. With such strong emotions gained from this treat, it seems to make perfect sense to put some chocolate in a heart shaped box for Valentines.


Chocolate Covered Strawberries

The origin of chocolate covered strawberries is often credited to Lorraine Lorusso who introduced them at a store called “Stop n Shop” during the 1960s. The act of dipping fruits in chocolate may have begun much earlier. When chocolate was first introduced in Latin America, the product was very bitter and people often ate it with fruit to balance the flavors.


The Holiday Itself

There are many legends concerning Saint Valentine. The most popular one describes Valentine as a Roman priest in the third century. Legend says that Emperor Claudius II believed that soldiers were better suited for battle if they didn’t have wives and families to think about. Because of this, he outlawed marriage for young men. Believing that this law was wrong, St. Valentine began performing weddings for young couples in secret. He was eventually discovered and imprisoned for his actions. During his imprisonment, he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and sent her the very first valentine- a letter which he signed “From Your Valentine”. We’ve been using this phrase ever since.

A Bra That Will Only Come Undone For Your “True Love”

We want to begin by saying we’re just as confused as you are.

But to the Japanese lingerie company Ravijour, a “True Love Tester Bra” makes perfect sense. Makers are claiming that the bra is able to analyze how a woman truly feels and will only pop open when the user finds her true love.

The lingerie company is marketing the bra as a safety device. Apparently, the bra will ward off unwanted sexual advances and will make sure that all people, except your true love, will not have access to your breasts.

How does this peculiar, high-tech undergarment work? According to the video promo seen below, the bra contains a sensor which syncs with an app on the user’s phone. The sensor will monitor and track the user’s heartbeat and once the heart rate reaches a specific point (the heart rate of true love, of course) the bra will come undone on its own.

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Of course, we’ve come across a number of problems with this device:

1. So what if you don’t find your true love? Do you have to keep the bra on forever? We’re certain that there are other ways to make the bra pop open on its own, but the video promo seems to constantly emphasize that the bra will only come undone in the presence of true love.

2. How accurate can that heart rate chart really be? What if I’m going out for a light run? Should I expect my bra to pop open because my heart rate has picked up? A person’s heart rate can rise and fall for a number of reasons. We highly doubt that this device is so intelligent that it can pinpoint the exact moment a woman finds her true love.

3. No, this is not an anti-rape product. As Huffington Post points out, “This high-tech bra will never “save” a woman from sexual harassment. Just because one’s brassiere isn’t being ripped off by an aggressive gentleman, doesn’t mean that the wearer isn’t experiencing a barrage of other forms of unwanted sexual attention before an evening gets to that point.” And getting into technicalities, what if one’s heart rate increases out of fear?

4. We’re pretty sure this thing can’t “know” how women feel. The creators (two men) can’t actually believe that true love can be measured based on a “one-size-fits-all” heart rate chart, right? I’d like to believe we’re much more complicated beings than that.

5. What if a girl just wants to have sex? In this day and age, there are plenty of women who are sexual beings. Believe it or not, women can actually want to have sex even if their partner isn’t their one true love. Shocking!

A woman should have the freedom to make these decisions for herself.