Category: Body image

Mood of the day: Post Apocalypse shorties

There are a couple of things I learnt in the last two weeks:

– the meaning of ‘polar vortex’,  a persistent, large-scale cyclone located near one or both of a planet’s geographical poles. Basically, an almost apocalyptic end of the world during which your brain seems to be freezing while walking and during which opening your mouth on the street could probably kill you if the cold air was getting into your lungs. New York is the worst place for that type of polar cyclone because you can no longer curse bad drivers and have to instead resort to roll your eyes from behind your winter burka.

– my immune system is actually stronger than I thought. How else can I explain surviving through nursing 3 sick children and serving as a human facial tissue for their mucus? I am IMMORTAL. Yeah!!!

This week marks a return to sufferable temperatures so silly me decided to flaunt season appropriate clothing such as…my Calvin Klein black shorties and a vintage light teal blouse hum 🙂 Of course, I ended up adding layers, here a Hydraulic faux-fur vest, a Pea in a Pod grey coat and a black knit beanie, to actually be able to go out. Got slightly over zealous. I also stopped combing my short hair. Jury’s still out on this one.

Note for the future: always check the state of your feet nails when wearing tights in case a sharp nail cuts into the nearby toe, which is atrociously painful. It is especially important if you are wearing a super super super tight body shaper, super super tight tights, super tight leggings, tight shorties…and a belt. That would save you a lot of time and lots of sweating!!!





Mood of the day: new old me

I finally made the big leap and by that, I don’t mean:
– kicking out L back to his room when he crawls into our bed in the middle of the night and pull and pinch my breast as if it was a a ‘doudou’ (French for anything that calms the baby: teddy bear, security blanket, muslin, padded book etc. In the case of L, it is the breast of any female between 18 and 45 year old)
– submitting my resume to a local restaurant to apply for a waitress job because our debts are piling up
– begging my mom to come and live with us to help with the kids

I chopped my hair. I was tempted by the whole Britney Spears infamous head shaving but did not go through it because a- winter is too friggin’ cold in New York and b-I have a super flat back of the head, as in flat ironed; another thing I used to blame my mom for. She probably let me sleep flat on my back ALL the time. She did have a 1 one year old (my big sis) to mind at the same time so I guess I now understand her and can no longer really hold this against her…It still sucks though.

Anyway, I did not shave entirely but went back to my post wedding and pre children hair style: short and short. People who met me in New York were stunned (most of them positively rather than ghastly stunned) and asked: ‘it must feel…strange?’It actually did not feel strange at all. It feels more like peeling away all the worry and layers built up after 4 strenuous years of fertility treatment, pregnancies, breast feeding etc. It feels more like getting ready for 2014 aka ‘get a job, whatever it is’ year with the kick ass energy of an old friend: the (hair) Bob.

Many people were also freaked out by how much I now look like my daughter, P. Me is thinking (slightly annoyed): ‘Cannot believe that my trademark hair style got appropriated by my 2 year old…Damn it!!!’ Oh well, I guess it is just the beginning…

Today, to accentuate the new bob, I went for: BCBG Max Azria stripes dress, Roberto Cavalli belt, French blue beret, Natasha’s old vintage rabbit fur vest (worn with the skin out), and new Blowfish ankle boots.

P.S: P saw the beret and wants it…

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My black son

‘I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character’  

Martin Luther King Jr.

Something that has been happening with G in the last few weeks got me thinking about self-identification and got me to revisit my own past struggle with my diverse identities. Basically (not) G thinks he is a black boy. And not in the cheesy Vanilla ice ice baby but as a boy with ebony skin and curly hair…My Manga faced boy sees himself as the 6th member of the Jacksons Five. Indeed, in all the books, IPad games, etc. if there is an illustration of a black boy, G points at the little boy and assertively claims: ‘it’s me, it’s G!!!‘ Every single time!

My initial reaction was: ‘Oh fuck, he is really really color blind’ (Note: he is struggling to identify primary colors). But as I started to study his big smile while proclaiming his ‘blackness’, I realized that his odd thinking was more complex and actually more beautiful than simple color blindness. The kid may flunk his public school ‘Gifted and Talented’ program entry test but he made me proud – a lot –  in the last few weeks.

He reminded me that for a long time, I could never identify myself as Asian because I grew in a predominantly white neighborhood and thought I was just the same as my then fair skinned best friend Mariel. I remember studying for hours my face in the mirror of my parents’ old wardrobe and would not ‘see’ that my eyes were slanted, my hair was blacker and thicker than anyone else in my class (bar my sister), that I did not have any nose bridge (despite pulling my nose for an hour every night in bed and if you want details: yes it hurt and yes I felt stupid doing it…crazy girl) and that there were many reasons why my name could not be Stephanie or Adele. I would not ‘see’ but I knew I was different.

He reminded me that it took me almost 2 decades to reconcile my various cultural and ethnic identities and a lot of resilience to overcome the abuse from French kids calling me ‘Chinetoque’ (French racist slur for Chinese people) and from the Lao people calling me out for being a ‘banana‘ (no comment).

Because of all this, I wanted my kids to grow up in a place like Harlem so they can see and understand things such as:
– people of different colors besides your parents can fall in love and have kids together
– or white women are not necessarily the adoptive mothers of dark skinned children but can be the nannies paid by dark skinned parents
It became a kind of obsession to promote diversity in our family life; obsession obviously rooted in my own childhood insecurities.

But my kids seem to have taken their very own journey about their understanding and experience of race and class.  G showed me something really new to me. He showed me that a boy with a caucasian dad and an Asian mom sees himself as a proud and happy black boy. And I will blast anyone who try to correct him and force him into boxes. I will blast them – Manga style.

What do you see when you look yourself in the mirror?

PS: meanwhile my daughter P is adamant she lives in the ‘Park’, I am at loss about what she means by this…I shall investigate and report to you soon 🙂


Activist mama: I’m every woman…It’s all in me.

‘ My body may be a work-in-progress, but there is nothing wrong with my soul.’
Bree Osbourne (Felicity Huffman), Transamerica 

Last week, DH sent me an email about a vigil in Harlem for Islan Nettles. I had no idea about who this hot African American woman was.  I searched about her death and my heart stopped for like a second. A couple of weeks ago, 20 blocks away from my home, she and her friends were the victims of homophobic insults. A ‘scuffle’ apparently ensued and she was beaten bad, real bad. On Thursday 22 August, she was declared brain dead. She died because she was a beautiful and happy woman who once was a little boy. A mother had to bury her daughter because some people hated that Islan was proud to be a woman.  20 blocks away from my home she, with her high cheekbones, endless eyelashes and plump lips, by just being herself caused a hateful  man to repeatedly hit her until she could not get up anymore…

I don’t know anyone who is transitioning or  has transitioned to another gender. And if I am really honest with myself, not so long ago I was still feeling uncomfortable in the presence of transgender people.  I would freeze for tenth of a second when someone with manly hands would firmly hold some train doors for me but all I could focus on was the red polish of their nails. I remember feeling pity looking at an old 65 year old pre op woman wearing a slutty skirt and riding her bike down Northcote road in London some years ago because while her long red hair was blowing in the wind, her male junk was crushed against the bicycle seat.  I think what unsettled me was their absolute confidence about being who they were regardless of snide comments or bemused looks. Understandably it was, I am sure, the result of a very long and painful search and struggle. I more recently realized that I was in fact half admirative and half intimidated by such boldness and ‘I don’t give a fuck’ attitude. In the end, you could say that transgender women are the type of women I always wanted to be: unapologetic.

Islan’s death shook me deeply. It is a hate crime that happened in a place I have so proudly called home.  Her death may seem like a tragic but isolated incident for New York—one of the birthplaces of the modern LGBT-rights movement. But ‘bias crimes’ have nearly doubled since this time last year here in New York City and people of color have been particularly affected…And this creeps the hell out of me.

I am not sure when transgender community will be finally accepted and respected in our society but a conversation I had with my 2 year old daughter over Labor day week end taught me something: we are never too young to learn respect and acceptance. She was teasing my (very woman like) girlfriend in a mean way by telling her: ‘ You are not a girl!’

My friend replied: ‘Yes, I am.’

P insisted: ‘No, you are not.’ (Note: these days, P thinks the worst insult she can give someone is to tell them they are boys…)

So the two of them went back and forth: ‘Yes, I am a girl’, ‘No, you’re not’ etc. I would normally find this whole banter cute but I started to get really annoyed and snapped: ‘It does not matter what you say, think or see, Miss P. If someone tells you they are a girl, or a boy as a matter of fact, you have to respect this and accept what they say, and move on, full stop.‘ She looked at me  totally confused but I did not care because I knew I had found my own simple way to talk about tolerance and I was going to repeat this again and again until my kids get it. Islan and other transgender women deserved this… at the very least.

Cougar town

  1. a large American wild cat with a plain tawny to grayish coat, found from Canada to Patagonia.
  2. informal, an older woman seeking a sexual relationship with a younger man.
I cannot remember the last time I went dancing with my girlfriends. I have a vague feeling that it was just after I stopped breastfeeding P & G, like 2 years ago. We were at Bagatelle and I thought ‘Boy, I am back! I am so going to rock New York night scene now’. Of course, a couple of months later I learnt I was preggers with L. It then felt like I was never going to be back. EVER. I have been missing a good ladies’ night out where crazy dance antics meet existentialistic drunken tirades about Love, Life, Career, and other women’s frocks… So last Friday, when, after a dinner drowned by a few pisco sours with my girlfriend Jules and her husband, my very own DH suggested to check out the only lively bar of Upper West Side, ‘Prohibition’, I think I squealed and literally rushed everyone out of the peruvian restaurant.
What I like about ‘Prohibition’:
– it’s jammed packed (because there is no other bar in a 20 blocks radius) so it reminds me of my time in London when we used to push left, right and center to reach the bar. And then, you had to show some gymnastics prowess not to get drenched by over filled pints of flat beer. I never thought I would ever said this but yes, from time to time, I do miss the ‘beer shower’. When you spill martinis over here, there is no much to drink afterwards. Fact.
– There’s a live band playing some Rihanna and Maroon 5, which means the crowd is …old-ish but wanna be young. In fact, last time I was there the place was full of Cougars. I had heard of cougars, I had encouraged my single girlfriends to become cougars but it was the first time I ever saw an entire room full of them. It was impressive. They are super toned, perfectly manicured, and wear J Brand (very) skinny jeans. You can see around their eyes that they have lived and lived well but were stunning. It is well documented that Manhattan has a very high ratio of single ladies but contrary to what TV shows like Sex and the City or Cashmere Mafia suggest, from what I have seen so far they are much nicer than their televised versions.
– Because the crowd is old-ish, people don’t give a fuck about how good they look. I remember when I went to Buddha bar, I was amazed by how many young pretty ladies would do a 2 step dance, not smile, and slowly sip their cocktails…DH called it ‘the cover magazine pose’ or something like that. I called it ‘a waste of alcohol’. The crowd at Prohibition also does not seem to care if they are embarrassing themselves talking to a stranger (often yours truly, I don’t know why but I always attract the most random conversations). Last time, I found a new mom sulking in the restrooms about how it was her first night out since she gave birth and she asked ‘Be honest, do I look like a mom to you? Cause I really don’t want to look like a mom tonight?’. I replied: ‘I am not sure what you mean by that. I am a mom too. But you look hot so you should not worry’. She was skeptical, stared at me and blurted: “Can I borrow your make up? I never wear red lipstick or black kohl on my eyes…And you don’t look like a mom’. I was going to oblige but she suddenly rushed to the cubicle to…Oh well, poor mama.
Instead of dancing though, I ended up spending most of my night on the sidewalk with Jules ranting about absolutely everything. How does DH cope with my insecurities, my body getting old and never recovering from giving birth to my 3 babies etc? I mean,let’s face it I could never be a cougar because I could never have the body of a cougar. Why is it that older women can only nab a younger stud if they look like goddesses (e.g. Bo Derek)? But older men can look like a troll but still bag themselves a top model? Why is it that I am so confused about what I want and who I am now? Is it motherhood? Is it age? Is it the 2 Pisco sours and 2 mojitos I had tonight? I don’t have any answers hence the existence of redlipstickmama (my alter ego who actually can admit she is fucking lost…) However, something funny that happened that night is giving me some sort of peace for now.
Jules was complaining about how, if she had known about this impromptu night out, she would have taken her ‘baise-en-ville’ instead of her beach bag/mama bag (it was the last day of her summer vacation). I laughed hard because I hadn’t heard nor used this expression in like 15 years. Note: in French a ‘baise-en-ville’ (literally a ‘shag-in-town’) is an overnight bag or even smaller, in which one might carry all the necessary items one might need were one to decide to not go home and instead spend the night elsewhere to usually have sex. My younger and wilder self would have: a toothbrush, a deodorant roller, some facial moisturizer, a lipstick and a miniature bottle of Eternity fragrance by Calvin Klein. Anyway I tried to find the proper English translation for this expression and found a ‘shag bag’…A ‘shag bag’ is a rucksack or other small bag which contains condoms and sex toys to be handy at any time and any place. Example of how to use this expression given by the Urban Dictionary is: ‘Let me reach for my shag bag, baby!‘ (???)
I think some stuff are better left untranslated 🙂
OK getting back to my story…So I started to empty Jules’ bag for a laugh and realized it could have been my bag. What I found was a beautiful metaphor of my life as it is at the moment:
– some dried fruits i.e. sweet healthy snacks in case the kids starve or have a tantrum (which seems to happen all the time)
– a half-eaten bagel. I never have the time to digest properly a meal so leftovers are always welcome
– a pretend play plate and spoon for an off-the-cuff play date. Moms are seriously the best unpaid improvisation entertainers.
-some designer sunglasses to hide over tired eyes on a lucky day and the ‘I am just fed up with life’ eyes on a very bad day
– expensive sun block because while the kids can do with Neutrogena, we are old and thus need the big guns
– a lipstick, obvious.
– a gossips magazine because sometimes I need to see what seemingly ‘have-it-all’ women are like and sometimes I need to pity those who seem to mess it up more than I do. I am talking about Scarlett Johansson, divorcing Ryan Reynolds??? Really? But mainly because perhaps insecure Me craves for some kind of public recognition…one day.
– And my ultimate favorite: one, not two, heeled shoe! Because I secretly hope that my dancing queen alter ego is not dead and ready to rock it big time but the reality is that I forgot the other shoe at home with my babies soundly sleeping and snoring.

As Jules and I were giggling contemplating the state of our messy lives, our DHs looked on, shook their heads, smiled (almost lovingly) and cooly went back to their pool game. No judgment.

I may never be and look like a cougar and will always be a silly dork but I guess, my salt and pepper haired man does not seem to care much about it. And it is just fine by me.

Mama bag