8Books Review: “The Prince and the Dressmaker” by Jen Wang

The Prince and the Dressmaker is a delightful graphic novel about friendship and secrets and identity and love. Prince Sebastian is supposed to be looking for a bride. But at night, he secretly dons fashion forward dresses and emerges as the mysterious Lady Crystallia with the help of his friend and dressmaker, Frances.

Set in Paris, Jen Wang has created an extraordinary array of imaginative and beautifully drawn dresses and costumes that pepper a story full of heart and growth. What lengths will Frances go to to protect her friend’s secret? And at what cost to her own dreams? As Sebastian and Frances’ friendship evolves, so do the complexities of their choices. Though set in another time, in another place, the two are eminently relatable and lovable for their flaws and successes. Who do they want to be? Who will they be? Neither is perfect. Each encounters obstacles–the weight of expectations, the burdens of secrets, the freedoms of self-expression, the limitations of what looked like success. Together, and individually, they find a way through and the journey is truly charming.

The Prince and the Dressmaker is a book to get lost in for an afternoon. A curl up on the couch with a hot cup of tea and go from one cover to the other. One huge, satisfying whirlwind ride.

Asian American Commercial Watch: Simon Premium Outlets® – Bold Summer Looks


Although we’re nearing the end of the summer, I’ve only recently noticed this Simon Premium Outlets tv ad:

AACW_Simon“At Simon Premium Outlets®, there’s always something new to discover. Check out our new Simon Premium Outlets commercial, and visit a property near you for shopping that’s always worth the trip.”

I was wondering if maybe Simon had in mind targeting Asian Americans or Asian tourists looking for a good deal, or if this actress was casted race-blind? Or maybe Simon just advertises with attractive women in their ads, regardless of race.

Caitlyn Jenner and the Power of Privilege

8A-2015-06-02-caitlyn-jenner-bruce-jenner-july-2015-vfObserve the coming out of Caitlyn Jenner and you get a good study of the power of privilege. I don’t want to minimize the courage and bravery Jenner exhibits to tell her story and to live her life the way she wants. However, Caitlyn’s experience of coming out is tremendously influenced by the privilege of her wealth and her race. Caitlyn lives in one of the most progressive communities in the world. She has money that enables her to access the best doctors, therapists, and surgeons in the world. In general, she will never have to fear for her physical life merely because of her gender identity. It is very clear that she has put in a lot of effort to conform to a very stereotypical cisgender female physical presence and that investment is paying off for her.

Would we all be so accepting of her if she wasn’t so obviously beautiful and conforming to our expectations of what a female should look like? It is well established in the trans community that the more you conform to binary heteronormative expressions of gender the easier your transition will be.

I love that Jenner is telling her story so openly. I love that she is allowing her transition to be used as a gateway to start conversations, to educate people, and to address the ignorance of this world (and feed some of our social addiction to Kardashian-esque gossip.) She is an amazing woman. I just hope that people realize that her experience is so atypical of the myriad other transpeople who barely have the resources to pay for hormones.

Transgender individuals experience one of the highest rates of workplace discrimination. One study by the National Center for Transgender Equality found that 26% of trans people report losing a job due to bias, 50% were harassed on the job, 20% were evicted or denied housing, and 78% of trans students describe being harassed or assaulted. Only 19 states include gender identity or perceived gender identity in their state’s civil rights laws. Transgender people who come out report nearly double the rate of unemployment than the general population. Without work, you don’t have medical insurance and without medical insurance you can’t pay for the care that you so desperately need.

Trans Women of Color have an even higher rate of discrimination and risk of physical violence than the trans community at large. Seven trans women of color were violently assaulted and killed during the first three months of 2015. If Caitlyn Jenner’s story inspires you to learn more about the transgender community I hope you take the time to learn about the socioeconomic challenges within the community.

Earwax: We Are Not Created Equal


It might be just me, but I assumed that everyone had the same earwax. But while researching my last article (Do Asians Smell?) I found out that (most) Asians have completely different earwax than those of other races.

I even told my wife this fact and it blew her mind. Okay, she didn’t really care, but she did express mild surprise which is more than I can say for most of my articles so you’ll forgive me for my hyperbole.

Don’t believe me that people of different races have different types of earwax? Here’s a quote from a science news blog:

If you would describe yourself as white or black, your earwax is probably yellow and sticky. If you are East Asian or Native American, it’s likely to be dry and white.

Did you read that? Just in case you missed it, I’ll repeat it. Asian (and Native Americans) have earwax that is dry and white (or in other websites described as colorless) and non-Asians have yellow and sticky earwax.

Wondering why the differences in the type of earwax? Let’s turn to our friends over at Wikipedia for an answer:

A specific gene has been identified that determines whether people have wet or dry earwax.[9] The difference in cerumen type has been tracked to a single base change (a single nucleotide polymorphism) in a gene known as “ATP-binding cassette C11 gene”.[10] Dry-type individuals are homozygous for adenine whereas wet-type requires at least one guanine. Wet-type earwax is associated with armpit odor, which is increased by sweat production. The researchers conjecture that the reduction in sweat or body odor was beneficial to the ancestors of East Asians and Native Americans who are thought to have lived in cold climates.[11]

I know. This was like finding out that Santa wasn’t real and that McDonalds’ hamburgers weren’t good for me. What’s next? I’m starting to wonder if the color of our feces is different. (BTW: Mine is purple).

There’s not much else to say about this, but while “researching” this article I did find some interesting facts about earwax and a totally amazing video subculture I never knew existed.

First, according to this NPR article, not only does earwax look different, but earwax also has different smells:

Preti says that regardless of race, we all produce the same odors — just in different amounts. For instance: White men have more volatile organic compounds in their earwax than Asian men.

Another interesting thing I learned (from that same article) was that researchers believe that earwax may hold people’s health secrets.

Ultimately, the researchers hope to mine our ears for whatever health secrets they may hold. Monell chemist George Preti calls earwax “a neglected body secretion.” Other research has shown that you can tell a person’s gender, health status and more from their underarm odors. “We think it possible that earwax may contain similar information,” Preti said on the center’s website.

And finally, there are videos (like this one with four million views!) of earwax removals.  I admit, I watched the whole thing (and many more like it) and found myself oddly enjoying it.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @ksakai1


YouTube: Anna Akana’s ‘How to put on your face’

Anna_Akana_IMDB_photoI saw this video posted earlier this month on Facebook by someone by budding self-described actress, director, writer Anna Akana and recently saw that The Huffington Post had picked it up. Although I’m a guy, I liked the message that Akana is delivering – that beauty is both outside *and* inside. The YouTube video has over 1.4 million views now!

If you’re starting off in Hollywood (or entertainment in general), it definitely makes sense to develop an audience on YouTube and in social media. The still precocious musician Taylor Swift wrote had some interesting insights when she wrote an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal recently on the future of the music industry, which I think is applicable to entertainment overall:

 “A friend of mine, who is an actress, told me that when the casting for her recent movie came down to two actresses, the casting director chose the actress with more Twitter followers. I see this becoming a trend in the music industry. For me, this dates back to 2005 when I walked into my first record-label meetings, explaining to them that I had been communicating directly with my fans on this new site called Myspace. In the future, artists will get record deals because they have fans—not the other way around.”

Looks like Akana is hitting all the social media channels with YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and her own website, and on her resume, even lists the number of followers:


She of course, has an IMDB, but not famous (or infamous) enough I guess to have a Wikipedia entry yet and it doesn’t look like she’s on LinkedIn. It’ll be interesting to see if she can achieve mainstream success through her social media efforts or make a living off of YouTube, like KevJumba, Ryan Higa and Michelle Phan. Although I live in Silicon Valley, I don’t make it to LA that often, but would be interesting to meet her in person one day (I’m sure the degrees of separation are small), especially now that she’s declared herself single. 🙂


Am I Anorexic? Asian Girl Body Issues

A few months ago, a student from Yale University, Frances Chan, blogged in the Huffington Post about her horrific experience with Yale–she was 5’ 2” and about 90 lbs, and they designated her an “eating disorder” case and began to force her to gain weight. The problem was, Chan didn’t have an eating disorder, her body was just the way it was, but their use of the broad (and widely considered inaccurate) BMI measurements labeled her an anorexic that needed saving.

When I read this news, I realized this was the tragedy that would happen should I ever become dictator of the world (or at least master of all media content). I grew up idolizing Sarah Connor from the Terminator movies, and my idea of feminine beauty is this, one of my fighter athlete idols Cris Cyborg:

Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos vs. Marloes Coenen
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My view of feminine beauty of course is not something everyone can live up to, not even me. Cyborg is probably two or more weight classes above what I would probably be with a fight-ready body, and I don’t have her long arm reach, good for ground-and-pound from any angle. But a girl can try to live out her dream, can’t she?
Continue reading “Am I Anorexic? Asian Girl Body Issues”

The Karate Hottie and The Submissive Asian Girl


The Karate Hottie and The Submissive Asian GirlI hate to share videos that objectify women mainly because it makes me want to throw up. Just watching that video I found above has left me with no appetite for the rest of my breakfast. Nevertheless, I thought the concept I want to explore was important enough, and really, there are so many contrasts in that video that when I watch it I swing dramatically back and forth from completely inspired to thoroughly disgusted.

From the moment I discovered this happa female MMA fighter, Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson, I was conflicted. As I posted before, I started with an aversion and disgust at even her name “Karate Hottie” but now I find the name endearing because it embodies the struggle of being what and who she is: a female American martial artist of mixed heritage.

Waterson completely fits into the stereotype of The Submissive Asian Girl and at the same time doesn’t fit them AT ALL.
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Mom + MMA World Champion = What’s YOUR Excuse?

Michelle Waterson
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Credit: Dave Mandel

Any moms out there looking for some serious fitness inspiration? In spring 2011, Michelle “Karate Hottie” Waterson became a mom, giving birth to her adorable baby girl Araya. This past spring on April 5th, 2013, she won the Invicta FC Atomweight Championship Belt despite being the underdog against defending champ Jessica Penne. Anyone can be a “hottie”, but there can only be one world champion. Waterson is so awesome, it’s beyond words.

Here is an interview with Waterson where she discusses the challenges of getting back in the octagon after childbirth:

Her road to the fight was not an easy one.
Continue reading “Mom + MMA World Champion = What’s YOUR Excuse?”

I’m Not Maria Kang’s Target Audience

I’ve been enjoying reading Akrypti’s and Xxxtine’s articles on Maria Kang’s “What’s your excuse” picture, so as an Asian American woman myself, I just had to join the party. That and I’m sure all this publicity helps up Kang’s website hits and business, so from one APIA woman entrepreneur to another, you go girl, and here’s some more.

My reaction to Kang’s photo? First, it was “Well, that doesn’t help the narrow definitions of beauty or the global objectification of Asian women.” After that, my secondary reaction was “Wow, I’m totally not the target audience of this photo.”

For one thing, I’ve never wanted a body like Maria Kang’s (nor that much eye make up). Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always dreamed of getting a body like Sarah Connor’s in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, able to reload a shotgun with a single arm.

Continue reading “I’m Not Maria Kang’s Target Audience”

Maria Kang: No Excuses for the Average

“What’s Your Excuse?”
“Me, I have none.”

I consider myself very average, perhaps just a tad below in terms of overall lifestyle. I’m not particularly ambitious and relatively healthy with a few lifestyle adjustments to cope with inherited medical conditions. I work to pay mortgage, bills, and fund upcoming wedding … painfully average.

So coming across internet memes with paraplegics running track citing “Your Excuse is Invalid.” have always struck a chord with me. In my average existence, I know I could be so much better than what I currently am, I’m just making excuses and not putting in the work. It’s about goals and having enough gusto and belief in oneself to step forward and overcome.

This is how I interpreted Maria Kang’s “What Your Excuse?” picture … posted on HER page meant for people who follow HER and are interested in FITNESS.

Continue reading “Maria Kang: No Excuses for the Average”

Model and Former Pageant Queen Maria Kang’s Controversial Fitness Photo and Message


The Hubby disagrees with me on this point, but of course he does. After all, he is a straight man with a pulse. Men everywhere are rushing to defend a [super hot and sexy] damsel in distress. Women, on the other hand, especially fat, ugly women, are up in arms.

Sexy Maria Kang, model and former pageant queen, posed in sporty underwear next to her three kids for a photo shoot and headlined it: “What’s your excuse?” I do not doubt that Ms. Kang meant no harm. Her intentions were good. If she can find time in her busy schedule with three kids (and a non-profit organization and several businesses, no, no one’s bragging here) to work out and achieve a toned model’s body, then so can you! Ladies, are you inspired now to feel better about yourself as Kang intended? Or did you just turn green with envy at her, played with the bat wings under your arms, then stared at your belly, and depressed, reached for another pint of ice cream?

If you did the latter, well Maria Kang says that’s your fault, not hers. You’re just a hater because you’re too lazy to get up and do something about your ugly ass and so when you see how much hotter she is than you, you’re taking out your insecurities on her. She says to you haters directly: “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.”

See? Her intentions are good.

Sadly, you know what they say about the road to hell. In her case it may not be as extreme as hell, but certainly the road to contributory negligence for further aggravating female body issues and playing the ever popular ever so trite blame game, which truly is best played against women.

Continue reading “Model and Former Pageant Queen Maria Kang’s Controversial Fitness Photo and Message”

Japanese Snail Salon


I used to play with garden snails all the time as a kid, collecting them, feeding them, and racing them. They are the cutest little things. But letting them crawl across my face as an anti-aging salon treatment? Um, thanks but no thanks.

I recently finished reading a health book called The Body Fat Solution by Tom Venuto, and his recommendation for the fountain of youth is exercise, specifically weightlifting. Maybe these ladies need to stop paying for snails to crawl on their faces and get their marshmallow butts into the gym for some real anti-aging treatment on the bench press. Just saying.

h/t Joz