European Bosslady featuring the Dutch brand ‘Maei’

Dear Bossladies and Gentlemen,

While I adore the American bomber-jacket and cool slogan style that expresses modern day badasses, the Eurochic version of the look is just as dear to me. Wepa!

The handpainted wooden bracelet and hoop earrings are from the lovely artisanal Dutch brand Maei – find all their pieces here!

The unexpected artisanal pieces bring a touch of boho to this otherwise very sophisticated ‘working girl’ look. Try bringing a bit of contrast to your look to remind you of fun, freedom and color even on your most intense workaholic days 🙂

Pants and Bodysuit: Asos Tall Shoes: Senso Cape: Zara Bag: Furla Wooden Jewelry: Maei Gold Jewelry: Family and travel heirlooms

Photos by Vee ❤

Love always,

Sim

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La Vie en Rose

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Edith Piaf’s song has little to do with the fact that life is hard, unpredictable and a bit crazy. “La Vie en Rose” is an outlook you choose, no matter what the realities of life may be. Of course, it’s much easier to be happy and dandy on some days than on others. However, no matter how many tough hands you’re dealt, I encourage you to do one small thing to make your life a little rosier each day. One thing that you have full control over. This could be:

  • Taking a nice long bath (yes, buy that cheesy candy-scented bath bubble from Lush)
  • Treating yourself to your favorite food or sweet (McFlurry and fries are my current choice. Yes, both at the same time like a pregnant lady :D)
  • Listening to your favorite jams on full blast in your room (dancing in front of your mirror is mandatory, of course)
  • Indulging in a new book or going to the movies solo
  • Wearing your favorite outfit or accessory
  • Buying that one small thing you’ve been thinking about for months – a new perfume, portable speakers, that new tea flavor
  • Saying NO to the event you’re dreading but agreed to as a favor and spending some quality time alone just unwinding
  • Watching a funny youtube sketch or TED talk, learning while laughing

The list goes on! It could truly be anything. For me, making myself a bit happier has been as random as painting my toenails a bright color, taking a long walk at dusk, checking out my Spotify new music suggestions, sitting in a cafe with a creamy treat and turning my phone off, etc. etc.

In this case, wearing one statement piece that brightens my mood all day long does the trick, too. My love for flowers and pants found each other in these rose-embroidered jeans from the Topshop tall section (bless them! They have a petite, curve, and maternity line too!)

Fit for spring, they’re subdued enough to pair with any solid-colored top, yet funky enough to add a bit of romance to even the cloudiest still-gloomy day.

Spring feelings evoke a yearning for transformation, embracing the fresh and new, excitement for warmer days and lighter feelings.

Let your wardrobe and self-care reflect the bloom outside 🙂

Love and rosy hugs,

Sim ❤

Body suit: Asos, Jeans: Topshop Tall, Sneakers: Adidas

Photos by Sour Cherry Couture

 

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Confessions of a Hopeless Romantic: Wanting the Impossible

I have a friend who claims she can have any guy she wants. And I’ve known her for long enough to confirm: She’s right. She’s attractive, flirtatious, super stylish and, in her own words, “know[s] how to manipulate men. It’s just so easy.”

Throughout the years, as her shyer and dorkier counterpart, it’s been fun and fascinating for me to witness her conquests and the lines of men begging for love at her feet. Always enthralled by her confidence, I relished in the privilege of receiving a freshly-baked batch of funny stories, straight from the source. Through her anecdotes, I have come to believe that love can truly be a game, may the better player win. But I have also seen her hurt and confused – not often, but at times – proving that no matter how good the player, setbacks are inevitable. However, in the history of her love life, there has only been one single guy she really wanted and couldn’t have. As in, they never began a relationship, and he slyly opted for someone else. Someone who, in many men’s eyes, would not be considered as “hot” and desirable as my friend. Yet to this one guy, it was the opposite.

And that’s the guy I want. Well, not him – I don’t even know him, he’s taken and was a jerk to my friend so HELL NO, BUT – I want the guy even the girl with the best track record of lovers can’t wrap around her finger.

Not because he’s better. He’s just more solitary. Tougher to crack. Good on his own and not swayed by a gorgeous girl because he’s the one who chooses the one girl he wants. And if he can’t have her, he’ll go back to bed alone. He’ll read a book or go for a run or play Fifa for all I know – but he won’t search for other love options in loss of his top choice. He may eat something else if they run out of his favorite dish at a restaurant, but he doesn’t compromise that way in love. In Diana King’s words “I don’t want somebody who’s lovin’ everybody.”

So I know: I want the impossible. The shy guy. The one who likes a girl so rarely that, when he does, it’s for real, and not because he’s been wooed by intentional charms. The guy that likes one girl and one girl only, and sees every other beautiful and witty woman as a great person but ultimately, a mere distraction to him. He’s focused. On you. Or in my case, on me.

Of course, in the absolute, this man doesn’t exist. Every man – and woman – has had his/her wonky moments where they just needed some attention/affection/sexual healing à la Marvin Gaye. Or they were bored. Come on guys, even the most principled among us have had their moments to add to the list of don’t put in my biography. They make us human, we were all teenagers once, or drunk.

Now of course, my maneater friend is a romantic too. She wants all of it – the intensity, the passion, the exclusivity. So even though we act differently, we ultimately dream of something quite similar. The main difference is, she goes after the possible while I sit on my lazy ass dreaming up scenarios that will never happen about people who barely know I exist and write letters I never send or, if I do, only years after the man and I have drifted far enough for entire states and countries to separate us and my confession has no larger effect than getting it off my chest, sans priest and hail marys.

No joke – I’ve actually sent a confession like this once. Three years after we were in the same city and were never even introduced, we just had mutual friends. The guy was flattered, of course (thankfully he wasn’t a sociopath) and even suggested we grab coffee if we ever end up in the same city again. Of course, we very likely won’t, and I’d also feel awkward bothering him again after even more time has passed. But before I sent the confession, in my mind I hoped he’d either be appalled by the randomness, or be so intrigued he’d fly to see me and we’d either hate or actually love each other. Of course, the reality was much more noncommittal and gave me that annoying slimmer of hope that leads to continued useless daydreaming – but I am confessing this silly story to show just the extent of my idealism and craziness when it comes to love.

So I continue to dream of this man I’ve never spoken to (yes, it’s a bit creepy), I imagine the hypothetical one coffee chat with him, the heart-pounding the seconds before we actually truly meet for the first time. But all this is more because of the rarity he symbolizes than because of who he is. For as we all know, I don’t even really know him.

So what made him so attractive to me that I couldn’t forget him even years later?

Yes, he is drop dead gorgeous (and the whole town acknowledged it) and he is even more specifically my physical type (seriously: if I had to draw my physical prince charming, this man would literally come out of my pen, head to toe, crooked smile to unruly hair strand). But while the physical caused the initial attraction, what let it remain for so long was his aura of unattainability. He wasn’t a serial dater. If he was, it was so low key that even our gossipy community had no idea. If anything, he had the reputation of being a bit “weird” for not sacking every girl in sight when, clearly, he could have (mostly) done so. Which brings me to my conclusion: Had he been the big player on campus, the loud party boy, the known flirt – keeping all other variables of his perfect face and beautiful physique stable – I would have forgotten about him faster than you can say Hey baby. I like him, to this day, because he’s the opposite of the player allure (which I never found alluring because it signifies a lack of pickiness to me). This guy is, officially, on very few women’s bed posts. Definitely no saint, but reserved about his conquests. Ultimately, how much he’s been around matters less than how mysterious he is about it. And this mystery, this bit of untouchable air, this ultimate confidence, are what keep me hooked.

The four authors of the bestseller How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are said “the Parisienne is in love with the idea of love more than with love itself.” Paris is the cliché city of love, but I recognize that definition applies to many European women, many alternative women, many ridiculously proud women… In fact, it describes all hopelessly idealistic, impossibly romantic, ridiculously proud women worldwide.

This is why the concept of online dating, for now, still irks the bejesus out of me. Since I’m not on the active search for a partner – like a little girl in her candy castle, I am daydreaming of the partner,  – the concept of saying (aka swiping) yes to a handful of individuals, breaks my entire vision of unexpectedly zoning in on that one person and remaining spellbound. I know it’s theoretically no different from scanning a bar or checking out your workplace but even then – I’m never the type to find a few guys cute, it’s either one poor dude who happens to fulfill all my cloud 9 wishes, or none. Many days and nights, I will scan a “scene” and not find a single one. Because I’m not really looking – it just happens. One or none. Never “oh he’s cute, he’s alright” and then we’ll see. No: one single person, or none.

I was talking to my good guy friend about this a few months ago. My heart swelled when he said, “The first time I ever saw [my ex] was extremely memorable. I will never forget that night.” He smiled wistfully at the vivid memory. That’s exactly how it is for me. The few guys (less than a handful) who have ever truly struck me, well, I can tell you exactly how, when, and where I first noticed them. I can tell you how it felt when I saw them – this pang!, this zingggg, this [insert other random comic sound here]. The funny thing is, with all of them, I felt a pull of mutual acknowledgement which opened the floodgates of my fantasies. Let’s say those fantasies materialized in 3/4 of the cases, but not to what I hoped they would be. The ultimate idea is to find that same ‘zone-in’ factor of that first impression (‘zingggg at first sight!’) and have the subsequent story coincide closely with my initial romantic hopes. If that happens – he’s the one.

I realize the incredible pitfalls of this. I can’t forgive certain things out of the sheer fact that my illusion of romance has then shattered irreparably. If I ever feel like an option to you, I will never believe I am your priority ever again. Call me radical, I won’t contest.

Which is why, the second I found dubious messages on my ex-boyfriend’s phone, I was emotionally out of the relationship forever. That second, even though we officially took a few more weeks to break up. Now of course, many women will argue flirtatious messages to past booty calls in far-away cities (I know, the stupidity still baffles me) is a good reason to call it quits. But I know far more women than not who stayed with men who lied or cheated or put them down otherwise, ended up marrying those men, forgiving them, continue to live picture-perfect relationships on social media – and maybe even in real life, at least according to their ideals.

Part of me really envies these women. Their ability to move on, their recognition of the errors as human and not, as in my eyes, an act that breaks the most sacred part of love: Respect. My lover crumbles in my eyes because he disrespected me and, perhaps even worse, disrespected himself.

If he’s willing to embarrass himself in the context of us, he will never fully regain my respect for him again. I can tolerate and forgive, but I will never love him the way I want to love him again. Which is why I could also never be the intentional “other woman”. I’m too proud to be embarrassed as the outlet of a man’s weakest moment. To be the traitor of sisterhood, even to an unknown femme, is my worst nightmare.

I know, I know: Everyone makes mistakes. I mean, what would Hillary Clinton or Cookie Johnson say to all this?

The thing is, women like Hillary and Cookie got one thing right -life is easier with a partner, especially if he is successful and provides. Since I broke up with my ex, many perks are gone – the kind of perks that no woman in a long-term relationship can deny she’d be stranded without, now that she’s used to them. It takes a certain type of woman to choose loneliness over comfort as a byproduct of her moral stubbornness. At times, I do miss these benefits. Many every-day things have been a lot harder alone. I see my girlfriends living the comforts of a relationship and sometimes feel a bit sad. But I don’t feel sorry for myself because I fully recognize that I’m the problem.

You see, the combination of wanting a man who is unattainable and said man wanting specifically you, too, is something like one in 20 million.

Ok, so I’m not sure of the statistics, but basically, it’s extremely rare. THEN, if you do match, the chances of things working out are still slim. There’s a lot I can forgive – but I can’t forgive you betraying the pedestal of romance I put you on. It has nothing to do with your weird laugh or hairy back or obsessive behavior when driving – that’s all part of the pedestal, my love. Your tendency to sulk, you staring at impressive cleavage – it’s ok, I looked too! Your past experiments with shrooms, your admission to not knowing the capital of Bulgaria – not ideal, but I’ll look past it.

No: you fall off this pedestal if you betray your own confidence, your own exclusivity, your own mystery and the certainty that you are good on your own. And if you shall not be alone, your companionship is to be shared with me and only me, because damnit, you’re picky as fuck.

You’re picky and solitary by nature, just like me.

You’re hard on yourself and you need constant challenge.

You’d rather be alone than forgo what you most hold true.

Because when I’m in love, I only want you.

Women: From Our Own Worst Critics To Flaunting Our Best

Ladies! (Gentlemen, too, but since today is International Women’s Day, I need to give a special shoutout to all my sisters, nunas and baby girls out there).

I know how hard it is to be a confident woman in the age of filters and plastic surgery. If you want to read about all my physical insecurities, just click here.

The other day, I was commenting on how my height (I’m 1.79 m, or 5ft11) has been a blessing and a curse throughout my life. However, in that conversation, I skipped over the blessings and talked about the mean comments from other men and women, my bad posture as a teen, feeling unfeminine, being deemed undateable by men both short and tall (hello, reverse-Napoleon complex!), lamented my lack of heel-wearing to complete elegant outfits…

When my mother, a woman par excellence, got really annoyed.

“Why don’t you focus on the good!” she exclaimed. “You have incredibly long legs, you’re elegant, lean, you don’t need heels to stand out, you MODEL, those who say you are too tall – no, they’re just too short!” (Bear in mind, she’s only 1.67 m/5ft5.5, but has lived vicariously through her unexpectedly tall daughter! 😀 )

I was defensive, realizing my height would forever determine a large part of my identity, often in ways that I may, honestly, never quite like or fully accept. But after letting my mom’s words sink in a bit, I realized:

I am my own worst critic.

*Raise your hand if you feel me.*

Oh wow, 3.5 billion hands just went up!

We women are notoriously unforgiving with ourselves. My friend with the killer jawline thinks her face is too long. My girl with a face like a greek goddess feels bad about her athletic (and awesome) build from time to time. On my off days, I think I’m too tall, too lanky, too blah blah blah and not XYZ enough. But each of us has stuff to love. Sometimes we make ourselves so damn hard to love. Life is hard. How can we make our self-love easy… or easier?

It may never be easy, but I know we can use our style as a way to highlight and embrace what we love most about ourselves. Forget “hiding” your so-called flaws. Highlight your best.

So in this post, I wore thigh-high boots in my favorite beige color to accentuate my legs, a comfy urban hoodie because the hip hop fan in me will never die, a curve-hugging skirt because my Shakira-like hips make dancing that much more sensual, and an undone hair and virtually no-makeup look because I’m still young and blessed with pretty good skin and mixed-girl wavy hair which, as much as it tangles, I secretly do love a lot. I feel more comfortable with no or very little makeup during the day. Seriously, daylight is harsh.

Now, this whole concept of embracing and focusing on my favorite features is foreign to me – I’m used to critiquing, not embracing – but I thought I’d give the opposite a try. To be honest, I felt both badass and a little more self conscious. As a tall woman, when you accentuate your look, you tend to draw quite a bit of attention, and I usually dress down and wear no eyecatching make up or clothing because I want to remain as incognito as possible. But then I think about the wise words of every diva out there: “If you got it, flaunt it!” It’s not easy, it’s a muscle you have to train – but it’ll be easier if we train together. Let’s be feature-flaunting workout buddies, yes? I urge you all to give your favorite features a chance to shine, let me know what you do to enhance your best, and I’ll be here to run on the road of self-love right next to you – in my killer boots, because life’s too short to hide linguine-long legs, right?  😀

Boots: Navyboot. Skirt: Zara. Crop Hoodie: Brandy Melville. Main Earrings: Modern Citizen Make up: Sensai powder SPF 15, “Better Than Sex” Mascara, Sugar Lip Balm in Rose SPF 15

Images by my boo V  – check out her blog at Sour Cherry Couture ❤

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My warmest embrace!

 

Sim

Untold

I always have stories to tell,

though you usually don’t have any,

not because I experience more than you,

but I’m alive inside, unending

 

Events are mere templates,

your colors give them meaning.

My colors always bleed,

they run into your streams

mixing together in crescendo,

a work of art for free

 

My abstraction is hard to understand,

and I know I’m outside your lines.

I forget rules when I’m in front of my easel,

while I’m seeking the realest –

it’s not without reason

 

My cause is critical,

it’s l’chaim and viva!

I’m coloring our life,

and all that gives it meaning

 

I could write a whole story

about this empty cafe,

or about how I did nothing last night.

You see, my nothing is so full of life,

it could feed a whole new mind

 

Well, as I love feeding you

like my mother fed me,

I still your hunger more than mine,

if need be

 

Since I always want to feed you,

sometimes my own heart starves

 

I give you stories simply because

I have them

and share was my first word.

Why wouldn’t I share?

Then I hope it’s your turn, but

my love is absurd –

you don’t share what you earn

 

Maybe you have no stories,

not because you don’t live,

but because you don’t absorb –

so absorb my every drip

 

Absorb this water,

absorb this tree,

absorb this shoelace,

absorb my knees!

 

I find them so entertaining,

I’d write about my knees alone.

You see, I always have my stories

from what I already own

 

It’s not easy to feel alive anymore…

We’re always distracted today,

but as an empath I feel your constant void

and it fills me with things to say

 

So whenever I share my own stories,

then curiously ask you what’s new!

And you answer me with your distant “nothing”,

as if that’s really true…

 

I sob without you knowing,

sharing my sorrow with my bones,

and not with you or anyone else

who left my stories alone

Love me, there’s always something new,

every breath you take is new

 

Nothing is ever nothing,

it just means you’re a little blue

but –

 

Come play with this fire

or you will stay cold

Come play with my fire

before we grow old

 

(C)old as the wind

I throw all my caution to,

but “she’s like the wind”,

she, she is me:

She who doesn’t just throw air but

becomes air entirely

 

So come be air with me,

become leaves, become trees,

embrace us now and forever,

love us distraction-free

 

No ping, pang, trill

No ring or shrill,

I’m here with you

and the world is still

 

My waves envelope your rocks,

my air moves your leaves.

Let my kiss burn your temples,

let my shadows help you see

 

Let’s travel the world without moving an inch,

create a tunnel of magic with cotton and lint.

Let’s eat the light from the window like bread,

see the clouds expand like our lungs in our chests

 

Fly from ankle to shin with our kiss-fueled planes

Reach the navel of our souls with no map,

just heat

tune out everything outside,

be complete in these sheets

 

Chew my thoughts with your voice,

let me swallow your presence.

Just your breath fills me up,

your warmth is my essence

 

We surrender to canvas as

your last resistance falls, and

we consumate our presence

with our witness: these walls

 

Flicking the last switch

Candles, lava lamps

lit,

 

As your fire melts my colors

and mine finally runs yours,

we paint the story we always knew we were

but now it’s true.

I’m Not Pretty

How is Simone a model? She’s not even that pretty.

You’re right – I’m not. Let me tell you exactly why.

Here are all my insecurities, many of which I’m sure you’ve already noted and stated to your friend as the reason for “she’s not even that pretty, like…”

So here you go (skip past the bullet points if you don’t want a detailed list of all my physical insecurities):

  • I’m 1.79m or 5 feet 11 inches tall which, as many have vocalized since I hit this height in high school, is way too tall ‘for a woman’. Gigantic, enormous, huge, amazonian, to list a few of the common adjectives used. I wish I had the guts to wear heels more as they make everything look classier and leaner, but I’m too insecure about my height 85% of the time.
  • I don’t weigh under 135 pounds so my body isn’t waif-like at all.
  • I often don’t feel feminine because I have pronounced, or, ‘broad’ shoulders – not from swimming, as everyone freely assumes, it’s literally just my bones that extend like an isosceles triangle making my upper body look like an upside-down ice cream cone.
  • I have eczema on my upper arms and have had red bumps on them since earliest childhood, like mini chicken pox.
  • I have stretch marks that look like long white worms along my entire inner and outer thighs, all across my lower back, calves, breasts. My skin is scarred and far from perfect.
  • One of my tattoos was messed up because the artist went too heavy-handed and I’m getting half of it removed with a painful laser – a process that will take at least two years and leave me with a flesh-colored scar at best. In the meantime, I feel deep regret for having scarred my skin because of a willful, but badly performed act. The regret is so bad it keeps me up many nights, makes me stare at the smooth backs of other girls near tears.
  • I have cellulite on my hips and thighs like an old Italian nonna at the beaches of Sicily.
  • My nose bridge is shorter and wider than white people’s but higher and pointier than the typical Pacific Islander’s, making it look perky from the profile and button-y from the front. This nose has been noted as the main reason I could never get cast for a half Asian role in a commercial, because in the industry, the idea of a half Asian is a girl with a tiny thin nose, wide eyes, milky white skin, silky Asian hair, a boyish frame not an inch above 5’8, tops (all of which is decidedly not me).
  • Yet my more “Latina” touches are not Latina enough because my eyes are slanted, my cheekbones high, so I can’t book those roles either.
  • My eyes are brown, which I actually don’t mind, but society, ex-boyfriends and casting directors have all told me they pale (ironically) in comparison to blue or green eyes.
  • I have very curvy thighs and no gap there whatsoever. I still feel offended when people call me “thick” because to me, it connotes fat. And on an Asian girl, we all know what that means…
  • Muscle-y calves from years of dancing.
  • Severely hyper-extended knees from the same activity, making my legs look like hula hoop halves.
  • My hair is poofy and frizzy, never sleek without lots of product or 3 days of no washing.
  • My cheeks look like a hamster’s, I’ve been called a chipmunk (again, often by men… is it a fetish?).
  • When I gain weight, it goes all over, but especially to that awkward brastrap area making wearing tank tops look like someone squeezed the Michelin man into a Victorian corset.
  • I have to thread my monobrow and hair on my upper lip because, yes, dark hair grows there, too. My brother used to tell me I needed to shave my mustache.
  • My handspan is so wide that I can’t wear 90% of women’s bangles.
  • My body is naturally curvy and soft – my breasts, my hips, my belly – soft. I don’t aspire to go to the gym every day as it’s just not me to do so, so soft my body will continue to be.

There you have it – these are all the things I am insecure about, all my blatant physical flaws. They’re not bad, my body is functioning healthily so there’s nothing to complain about. But on a pure physical level, I know there are a million women with better proportions, smoother hair, paler eyes, more petite frames, perkier breasts, thinner thighs, bubblier butts and fairer skin. There are millions of women prettier than me, and I’ll be the first to admit it.

And I’m not mad about it. It’s how it is, I was given these traits, I could diet and exercise much more, I could cut out everything but greens and juices from my diet, I could have thought more wisely about that last tattoo, I could get fake lashes every month and relax my hair but I don’t and I didn’t, so this is where I am.

Not that pretty.

And I want to say this because despite why so many of my former friends have turned from me in disgust over my seeming self-indulgence as a model since the beginning of this year, I don’t think I’m anything special. Not ugly, but a far cry from physical ideals in every aspect.

So why did I want to model then?

Precisely because I was so deeply insecure about my looks, so deeply in need to prove to myself that I am kind of pretty, too. That’s how bad it was.

We could go into the cliché sob story here about how I was bullied as a child and discriminated against in my sports teams for my looks blah blah (this is all true) but that’s not the point. The point is, I didn’t feel pretty then, and to be honest with you all, it’s about a 50-50 rate to this day that I still don’t. I have my good days. But most days, when I’m sitting on my floor with chocolate chip cookies and a bowl of pasta, I acknowledge to myself that I will always be a very approachable girl. Maybe only intimidating because of her stern expressions and height. I will never model for Guess or Victoria’s Secret, I will never be in a Maybelline commercial. And I know it more than anyone.

Yes, modeling and acting is often seen as self-indulgent. Narcissistic. Who does she think she is?  

Maybe everything you ever wanted to project onto a girl you thought embodied a lot you don’t care for came to life in the form of a girl with a good degree who turned Instagram-wannabee-cool. A loser, a failure, a superficial airhead living in LA with her small dog, how damn predictable. A walking stereotype of this generation’s narcissistic victims. You’re so above that, I know.

Or maybe you’re projecting onto me a lot of hatred you have for things you’re afraid to confront.

My life is not glamorous. It was 100 times more glamorous in college and in high school than it is now, but I’m here because I want to be, so I don’t mind. But I’m not going to accept the hate stemming from misunderstanding, because if we don’t understand something, isn’t it only right we feel curiosity, or at least neutrality?

Why do you think I have my dog? (Aside from the fact that she’s adorable and stole my heart within two seconds at the adoption fair). Because I’m here alone. Homesick for my family 12 hours away. With literally no reason to be here except for a crazy dream of breaking into a crazy industry (acting, not modeling).

Why do you think I act? Because my grandmother, my big role model, was an actress. I worshiped her, spent my childhood days with her. I inherited her love for films, for interpreting characters. My middle name, Leigh, comes from Vivien Leigh. I act because it’s one thing I do alone that allows me to escape all time and space. I live in my own world and acting allows me to do so to a degree that makes my own planet feel safe to live on.

Aside from my work, there is not a single thing holding me in this town. If I could do this from somewhere else, closer to my best friend (Papa) and my warrior angel (Mami), I would.

Why do you think I have a dog. So there’s a living spirit around me when I blink back tears from how much I miss real, trusted, human interaction.

I suffer from anxiety. Since I was a child, I was debilitatingly shy, panicked in crowds, couldn’t talk to strangers. If it weren’t for Lola, I wouldn’t leave the house except to go straight to and from a job or casting. At the last alumni event for my university, I felt pressure in my chest and couldn’t wait to leave – that’s how introverted I am, that’s why I can write much better than I can talk, that’s why acting is my passion because I can escape the walls of my real self, I can be the people I silently observe on a daily basis and empathize with so deeply but am too afraid to approach first.

So yes, I’m not very pretty. I’m not that great. I’m not rich or well-connected. I’m here alone, a bit too tall, a bit too awkward, a bit too insecure, but a bit too crazy and in love with dreams to give it all up. I work as a cashier and delivery driver, I make my life look better on social media than it really is because it’s an unofficial portfolio for all entertainment people at this point.

The only difference between me and anyone is that I work my butt off, I came here to hustle and that’s what I do. But I don’t think I’m great at all. I have to force myself to go to auditions sometimes, because I know I’m about to walk into a room full of gorgeous, talented people with better self-esteem than me. I see hundreds of girls daily with better looks. The only thing I have is that I’m willing to sacrifice so much for this, I’m willing to work hard. Other than my work ethic, I have nothing on anyone.

Not looks, for sure. I rate myself average looking with relatively even, though slightly strange facial features, long limbs and no acne. I’m no Gisele, no Kate, no Naomi. I knew that, way before you ever hoped I would realize it.

I always knew.

Sometimes I sadly look at the girls with more perfect bodies, no scars, defined lean muscle and petite builds. If it looks like I have that on photos – trust me, it’s good angling and editing on the creative team’s part. If you saw me in real life, you’d know.

I know.

I know I’m a far cry from perfect, but I have a big heart and courage. So if someone does find me beautiful, it’s not for any physical trait, but for the energy I give off. Some like it, some don’t. But don’t mistake energy for beauty.

I’m emotional. Not beautiful.

But if you find emotions beautiful, I can be both to you.

I was never the pretty girl, and that’s ok. Sure, everyone is physically appealing to some people, we all have different tastes. But I will never be the girl with 100k followers and the confidence to walk into a bar of strangers like WAZZAH! I’m just me. Shy yet wild, raw and odd, exotic yet not really radical at all. I have my niche, like we all do, but I’ll never be mainstream pretty. I am so far from that ideal it would be silly to try. I gave that up long ago in pursuit of other things.

I pursue things I can strive towards, accepting what I can’t be with as much grace as my young soul can muster. I strive to be a good person, to better myself, to do no wrong, to work hard, to do something every day that my future self will thank me for, to be grateful for every blessing, to see setbacks as valuable lessons.

That’s what I strive for. That’s the ‘beauty’ I want now. The beauty that stems from the warmth of your soul, the openness of your heart, the innocence of your eyes. Wise beauty, charming beauty, savvy beauty.

I’m deeply insecure. Deeply. I don’t need you to whisper how unpretty you think I am.

I know.

 

 

Transformation Caused By Violence – The Metamorphosis of Innocence to Strength, A Photo Series

In order to raise awareness on how widespread and unspoken violence against women and domestic violence of all forms are, I partnered with my friend and photographer Darcey De Los Reyes (check out his amazing work here) to channel the emotions of processing violent trauma through a visual creative medium.

The girl in the photos is by the ocean. She is bare, in many ways, from her clothes to her lack of makeup, to the rawness of her emotions. We chose this setting and these conditions precisely to eliminate the taboo of showing women in their natural, pure state because even after a violation, a woman is pure. This shouldn’t be a question. The purity of a woman is not measured by the type of clothing she wears or the activities she engages in, but by her soul and spirit, kindness and inner strength.

I know some people may find these images “sensual” or even “provocative”. Why wasn’t the female figure more covered? Precisely because in pivotal moments of our lives, we don’t hide any part of our true selves.

When I experienced the attack, I was wearing long pants, a sweater, no makeup, and my hair was tied back. Still, a man chose to see me as nothing but an object avoiding submission and, therefore; an object subject to his aggression. So I simply have no patience for outward judgments on when and when not a woman deserves to be respected.

Because the answer to that is always.

Here we go through the visual depictions of processing the emotions of violent trauma. If you have been in this situation, I hope you can find comfort resonating in a shared, though completely undeserved experience. Know you are not alone. If you have never, and I hope you never will experience such an event, I hope the emotions can evoke a sense of solidarity in you and inspire you to look out for others and yourself just a little bit more. No matter what, we ask you to stand up for respect and always choose non-violence.

*** Warning: The article includes a photo of my injured eye. It was taken a few hours after the attack at the hospital for medical records. My face, which needs to be considered “pretty” given my profession, in the blink of an eye became grotesque, disfigured and temporarily disabled. Both extremes are my face just the same, and I want to show it to you in its truth beyond my own control. If this is something that will trigger emotions beyond your capacity, please do not read on.

image1SOFT • OPEN

First, you are who you are without inhibitions. You are trusting. You don’t expect the worst of people and in fact, see the best in them. You are the princess of giving the benefit of the doubt. Your gaze is gentle, maybe a little shy. Your dreams are big. You see the world in bright color.

People come and go. You are welcoming. Your smile is inviting, like a cozy cottage on a rainy day. Like many women, you are naturally open-hearted and trusting towards your friends, family members, and strangers.

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SUSPICIOUS • CONCERNED

But intuition doesn’t lie and when you feel something is starting to negatively interfere with your inner peace and daily function, you know you should listen. You notice warning signs, but still give the benefit of the doubt. You plan to stand up for yourself if things get really bad, but you don’t think they will… You hope, you pray they won’t.

But they aren’t getting better, either. You take distance, you exercise caution, you don’t feel as free as before. The bubble wrap that you used to pop on purpose for a little silly attention now scares you, you try to only step on the deflated bubbles to not make any unnecessary sounds. Your home is not a safe haven anymore, and a rustling sound behind you or an unknown phone number on your screen trigger imaginations even J.K. Rowling would love to tap into.

You go about your life not fully realizing that irrational and aggressive people will not heed your concerns or requests and it is better to be overly prepared than taken by surprise.

But you don’t expect anything to happen. It happens to people, but not to you. You know there’s no weakness in asking for help in advance. In the end, you will be safer than trying to deal with it all by yourself. But you’re a tough cookie so you don’t tell anyone. Besides – verbal harassment isn’t that bad, right? Maybe they’re just having a bad day, I mean, we all do.

You rationalize an irrational mind, and that is where the true danger starts. 

malibu4

SHOCKED • SHAKEN

You didn’t see it coming, how could you have, yet everyone who knew him knew he was a stalker, unemployed, an illegal immigrant with nothing to do all day, a drug addict, homophobic, short and mousy-looking and insecure about it, from a culture that notoriously deprecates woman’s value in relation to man’s, and everything else that could possibly indicate an unstable person and threat to your safety. But you never. saw. it. coming.

He had been in your house all weekend, and he harassed you verbally that day again. Right there on the street. You stood up for yourself. For your standards, you got ‘kind of mean’. You even said, “this is not Turkey, you can’t just insult a woman and control her in her home!” and you immediately regret this statement because, is it racist? I don’t like to generalize! Even in that situation, you evaluate yourself on your integrity. But he just laughed, “Ya in Turkey things are better”. He made your blood boil to the point of you saying one thing you think isn’t nice, but you call no names, make no accusations. All you ask is: “respect me in my house, stop messaging me, leave me alone“. He calls you a transvestite, says he will rape and kill you, that he will do whatever he wants to you. He grabs you by the collar…

Then, blur.

image2-1It’s like how you feel when you read the news about some absurd act of violence, terrorism, or rape. It seems unbelievable that humankind is capable of such atrocities and yet, they happen on a daily basis. And then, something happens to you, and everything changes.

I remember hitting the pavement after the fourth or fifth blow.

********************************************************************

You don’t see people the same way. You get attacked for speaking out. Your former friend defames you on social media. She calls you a whore, fat, crazy, insane, a piece of garbage – all because you left the place of danger that she continues to nurture.

Not even the police feels truly on your side because “we are dealing with homicides and murders. In the scheme of things, this is not a big deal“.

So a man can beat a woman to the point of hospitalization and it’s not a big deal.

Yes, everything changes.

The country you once thought was great crumbles before your eyes.

Your liberal stance on immigration starts to waver as your assailant is untraceable and easily hidden due to his lack of papers.

Your interactions with men are strained. You can’t imagine having one touch you. The only male eyes you can look into without terror are those of your father and brother. They are now the only men in the world you honestly believe will not hurt you.

You lose your faith in the system. The law. The police. You question your friendships. Your own body. The choices you have made.

You don’t know why, but you feel ashamed. Like something was taken from you that you can never get back.

You can’t sleep at night and food has no taste. The world fades to monochrome and your walls go up so high only the sound of gentle music you use to band-aid the silence of solitude can enter.

You drag yourself to court, to the police, like a puppet going through the necessary motions, perpetually replaying his face over and over in the screen of your memory.

You know you will never be the same again.

14315903_1758594211073264_1339981566_oLIBERATION • DETERMINATION

And then suddenly, you overcome everything you thought you couldn’t, you stop worrying every time dark falls, you’re no longer afraid of living.

Yes, you have changed forever, but not in a bad way. You are stronger. Forget that, you are tough as f*ck.

You don’t take shit from anyone.

You stop caring so much about those who judge and dislike you without knowing you because you’ve been through hell and back and petty shit doesn’t faze you any more. You stop looking at others based on their professions and appearances. You know that everybody has an untold story, everybody has emotional impressions that are unrecognizable from the outside.

And you’re grateful. You’re grateful for the people who truly care about you, for the moments of pure joy you’ve been given in this life, for the health you’ve been restored. You count your blessings with an intensity you never have before. You internally smile at happy babies, doting parents, cheesy couples and wild teenagers, happy they have a sense of freedom you know that you, as you gain it back step by step, will never again take for granted.

Still, men who look like him or have his accent will always send a shudder down your spine. You avoid the places that remind you of your trauma. His place of origin, which was once at the top of your travel list, will probably never be a destination for you any longer but that’s ok – there are so many more places to go.

Everything that once made your life worse, you start to weed out. You value yourself more, your time, your health. You recognize you have a choice in who you have in your life. You understand you have the right to take distance from people if it brings you closer to your true self.

It’s like a hazy curtain has fallen and you see the essential for the first time. People’s opinions don’t matter that much anymore, because through all this, you finally know that you know yourself better than anyone else, and you always have been, and vow to always be your own best friend.

dsc_2779With time, you become wilder, freer, more determined than ever. You’re not motivated to prove others wrong, you’re motivated to prove to yourself that you passed yet another test of life and are nothing but blessed because clearly God gave you a pair of limited-edition supreme balls (in the figurative sense, of course, meaning Joan of Arc-style courage and chutzpah.)

You continue to only wish well to all people. Lokha Samasta Sukhino Bavanthu – May all beings in the universe be happy, always. Yes, even him. His actions were motivated by the demons inside of his own troubled mind, you know if he had been at peace he would not have hurt you. You stop feeling anger, just pity.

Most of all, you protect yourself. The minute you feel someone is crossing a line, you’re out. You waste no more time. Some call it being jaded, you call it protecting your soul.

You know the right people will make their way in slowly. And if you are alone 99 breaths out of a hundred, that’s ok, too.

It feels just fine to be the one who loves you.

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You look at life as if it were the most precious gem, and feel you have, at a tender young age, discovered a secret that many wait lifetimes to uncover:

You are, and

Time is, and

Life is

Precious. 

and like water flows in perpetuity, it always goes on.

dsc_2472Changing the System

In the United States, the burden of obtaining and serving a restraining order against a dangerous person lies on the victim. Furthermore, if the injuries do not leave permanent damage or disfigurement, the attack is only charged as a misdemeanor, leaving the assailant free with a warning and fine at most (if he can be found). We don’t prioritize safety in this country nearly enough  – and as much as I love the United States for many reasons, I realize why it is still a country where every human must really look out for themselves. I hope we can change our mentality little by little to naturally want to look out for one another, too. A big reason why crime rates are so low in East Asia (Korea and Japan specifically) is because your ‘face’ or reputation in the community and how you represent your family are paramount to your survival and happiness. I believe we can learn a great deal from collective mindsets. No matter what, I believe in the power of giving, sharing and caring now more than ever.

I am linking some helplines and informative websites below:

Confidential Hotline

Help End Violence Against Women

Love,

Simone