Sunday, July 31, 2016

Top 5 Must-Have Beach Essentials

Yes, I know. I'm really late when it comes to writing summer posts. BUT, because I live in Southern California, it is HOT all year round. Meaning, it's basically summer all year so it's always perfect beach weather. Today, I've decided to dedicate this post to my favorite beach essentials. I hope you find them useful and I would love to know below in the comments which one you like better.

1.) Portable Bluetooth Speaker:
What I love about this bluetooth speaker is that it has 2 inch full-range driver units and 2 passive bass radiator which basically means it has a nice surround sound effect. It also has 2 rechargeable batteries that lasts for around 5 hours and high quality 360 degrees omnidirectional sound. However, my favorite part about this speaker is that it also doubles as a portable phone charger. This makes it perfect for going to the beach with friends because our phones always seem to die halfway through- making us miss out on those perfect sunset selfies. BUT, this bluetooth speaker not only plays music but works to charge our phones. I used to think the design wasn't that nice, but the simple, sleek grey color is beginning to grow on me. Honestly, this picture makes it seem so TUMBLR-worthy. But overall, I'm honestly absolutely in love with this speaker and will be taking this treasured gem with me wherever I go.

2.) Canvas Bag:
I think everyone needs a SASSY bag in their life, and that's why I decided upon this one from I love the bright turquoise font on this bag and I love how it's a canvas bag which makes it absolutely perfect for the beach. I mainly fell in love with this bag because of the phrase "I got 99 problems but a BEACH ain't one". **Fun fact- I had actually won 1st place when I competed in Impromptu Speaking because I used this joke.**

 3.) 2-in-1 USB Charger:
At the beach, our phones always seems to somehow run out of battery. And unfortunately, most of our chargers only work for either Android or Iphones. However, what I love about this cord is that it works for both types of phones. Like shown in the picture below, the Iphone Charger Head is detachable- revealing an Android charger below. However, while most chargers costs around $10, this one is a tad bit pricier because of it's special features (such as the flexible material to keep it from tangling and an additional protection layer to keep it from damage). But, if you're looking for a new charger, this one is the one I'd recommend because it will last for a long time. If you've ever wanted to do something heroic, purchase this charger. Your friends will definitely thank you when you're able to revive their phones (;
A few months ago, I had gone to the beach with a few of my friends. As soon as we arrived, my best friend (Monica) and I decided to take off our sandals when THE WAVE suddenly came by and quickly swept away our shoes. Thankfully, a random bystander happened to see them and was able to rescue my sandals, but Monica's shoes were gone. (We spent forever looking for them, but they were gone). Moral of the Story? Don't wear expensive shoes to the beach. Just don't take the risk get Old Navy $1 Flip Flops. **SIDE NOTE: I also found that these flip flops were perfect to use as shower shoes when dorming in college**
Here's a life hack for the beach: It can be a pain to locate your towel after swimming- especially when all your friends have the same colored beach towel. Thus, an ESSENTIAL when going to the beach would be getting a BRIGHT towel because not only are they CUTE, but CONVENIENT to find when packing up. Urban Outfitters offers many adorable options for a great price, and can definitely help you find a print that your friends won't have.

Which one was your favorite? Leave it in the comments below & based upon the feedback I'll be offering a GIVEAWAY soon. 

Disclaimer: I received some of these products for free or discount in exchange for my honest, unbiased review. These products 100% reflect my true opinion, and I have only portrayed how I truly felt about these products. Thanks for Reading :)

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Why #blacklivesmatter MATTERS to Asians

The other day, I decided to log onto Facebook to see what my friends and family were updating on social media. This was the day after Alton Sterling was fatally shot by two of the city's policemen. And unfortunately, a majority of my peers were not focused on trying to stop police brutality, nor the injustice that had occurred. Instead, my newsfeed was filled with people arguing whether the phrase should be #blacklivesmatter or #alllivesmatter. 

One of which, was a comment written by an Asian-American woman who stated how she refused to support the #blacklivesmatter movement since it did not include the Asian community. She discussed how Asian lives also mattered, and that the #blacklivesmatter movement needed inclusion. So that, was her reason for not being a part of the #blacklivesmatter movement. Because of the specific phrasing of #blacklivesmatter, the movement therefore did not matter to her. 

I wish I were able to tell you that this reason only applied to this one woman. However, the unfortunate truth, is that many Asian-Americans believe that the #blacklivesmatter movement doesn't matter because it is a movement that does not include them. 

And one of those Asian-Americans, used to be me. 
Now, before you get mad, let me explain. In the same way, the term feminism is often looked down upon by men because they feel that it doesn't apply to them. Even though the entire feminism movement is about equality for everyone, men often feel as if the movement only applied to women. As an Asian-American woman, I had originally believed that the phrasing didn't include me. Even though the #blacklivesmatter concept was to bring about equality for everyone, I felt unsure that its meaning was that the lives of the Asian community also mattered. Through the phrasing alone, I didn't think it was directly fighting for equality for all. And I failed to see how #blacklivesmatter mattered to the Asian-American community.

Here's the thing- Yes, Asian-Americans face discrimination on a regular basis. But Asian-Americans are not the ones being targeted.

The problem with the #alllivesmatter movement, is that we are ignoring the fact that black lives have been the primary victims of police brutality. In the past year alone, the American police have killed more than 500 black lives alone. Black people are five times more likely to be killed than white people. And in most situations, they are unarmed, completely innocent individuals. 

These statistics don't apply to Asian Americans.

The other day, I read a true story about a black man who was afraid that a policeman would flag him down because his car's license plate had expired. He was afraid of the possibility that a simple encounter with a policeman could end his life that day. But, for us, when a policeman flags us down the road, we are so fortunate to be able to think "I am going to get a ticket" rather than "My life is about to end". When we walk down the street, we are lucky to to be able to do so without preconceived stereotypes that we are dangerous criminals. And we are blessed that our first impressions do not include the word "threat" or "armed". However, our situation unfortunately doesn't apply to the lives of many black individuals. And hundreds of lives have been taken by the hands of corrupt policemen who incorrectly discriminate against innocent black lives. 

But now, I understand, that
#blacklivesmatter is to highlight the injustice that black individuals face everyday.
#blacklivesmatter is fighting for equality for everyone.
so #blacklivesmatter does include Asian-Americans

When I see my fellow Asian-Americans explain that they do not have anything to do with the #blacklivesmatter movement, I can understand why they feel that way. But the thing is, the #blacklivesmatter movement also affects Asian-Americans. 

How? Well, the core of the movement is to equalize all races. And the label is "black lives matter" because black people are the most adversely affected. What the movement is trying to do, is to fix the most affected area first- before police brutality expands to other races. It's similar to fire. If a house were to catch on fire, the firefighters would try to put out the fire in the house it started with, than to focus on the neighboring houses. In the same way, the #blacklivesmatter movement is trying to focus the problem on black lives before other minorities are affected by police brutality. If Asian-Americans continue to believe that this movement does not apply to them, they are in for a rude awakening. Because essentially, we could very well also be the target of police brutality if this problem is never fixed.

In addition, another common misconception is that this problem is one that will never be solved. In fact, one of my Asian-American friends expressed his concern that his main issue with the #blacklivesmatter movement is how there is no tangible solution. But, it's important for all of us to understand that awareness is always a good step forward. This is not an entirely blind movement, but it's the aspect of raising awareness before raising an answer. 

Currently, there are more than 18,000,000 Asian-Americans in the United States today. And within the 18 million Asian-American individuals, I hope that they begin to voice their opinions louder than ever for the violence and cruelty within our country. I hope they begin to understand how #Blacklivesmatter allows us to take the first step towards finding the answer to ending this injustice. And how it is a movement that Asian-Americans especially need to be apart of. 

Because #blacklivesmatter does matter to Asians. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Azzaam Siddiqi

Azzaam's Style
"Well, my style is nothing out of the ordinary, but I do like to add my own twists to it. Nevertheless, I would say my style is very Yeezy-esque, pulling inspiration from Kanye West. Besides that, my style is very much whatever I think just looks good I would hope that people see just me and nothing else. I can dress comfortably, casually, or formally and still look better than the average person out there, so I would say that's very much my style."

Azzaam's Story

"Being a first generation child to immigrant parents, there were a lot of things that I had to go out and discover on my own, with fashion being one of them. Growing up, I had my awkward phases just like everyone else, yet mine always tended to be a bit more awkward than everyone else, which eventually led to bullying. My mom would always dress me when I was younger, but that was when I could care less about what I looked like. However, reaching 7th or 8th grade was when I started to care more about what I looked like. Even then the problem wasn't solved- the thing with styling yourself is that it doesn't just happen overnight. You experiment with different looks until you find one that you like, and with society and whatever is considered "in" always changing, that can become difficult. I always needed other people's approval to feel better about myself and the way I looked, which didn't help especially with all the bullying going on. Finally, not until junior year of high school, after various awkward phases, I stopped caring so much about what others thought of me and decided to do what made me the happiest. That's also when I embraced one of my many life motto, "look good, feel good" If you think you look good, that's all the validation you need for yourself to just go outside and take on the world. People are always going to judge you no matter what you do, so might as well do what makes you the happiest right?"

Behind the Scenes
While many individuals often ask the photographer to think of ways to position themselves in pictures, Azzaam is the kind of person that definitely knows what his best angles/poses are. (In other words, I was definitely not needed HA HA.) However, watching him jump off ledges or posing in elevators yesterday showed how inspiration can be found anywhere. Literally. Even inside a nearly-broken elevator. Or a broken air conditioner. 
One thing that truly amazed me about his story, was how he always appeared so confident about everything. But reading about his past experiences simply reaffirmed the notion that clothing can help us find our inner confidence so that we can love ourselves more than Kanye loves Kanye. Here are a few more "behind the scenes" pictures of our photoshoot. Thanks for reading & I hope you enjoyed! 

When you match the air-conditioner, you know it's time for a picture.

Risking his life for a picture. I guess you could say he likes LIVING LIFE ON THE (L)EDGE(;
shirt - Forever 21, H&M
sweats - H&M
jeans - cotton on
shoes - Footlocker, ASOS
Outfits by Azzaam Siddiqi

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Update your Wardrobe for ONLY $1

I fell in love with thrift shopping three years ago. And since then, Goodwill has become my favorite place to look for vintage and trendy new outfits. While many people are disgusted at the thought of thrift shopping, they immediately grow curious at how a broke college student like me is able to find so many cute outfits at such low prices. How?

Dollar Thursdays at Goodwill
Basically, Goodwill has a "color of the week" every Thursday. Find an outfit with the corresponding color tag, and that item is automatically one dollar only! It takes patience and luck to find items with the corresponding color, but it's completely worth it if you do. Now I know, it will probably take quite awhile to find an outfit with the corresponding color. In fact, it sometimes takes me three hours if I have the patience to look through everything- from home goods, to dresses, to shorts, to skirts, to tanks, etc. But at the end of the day, the patience is completely worth it (in my opinion) because of the cheap cost. Even if you don't find what you want in a corresponding color, I guarantee you'll at least find a beautiful second-hand clothing. Either way, it's a win-win situation. 

^ Literally. Couldn't have said it any better Macklemore LOL

Last Thursday, I went to a nearby Goodwill in Santa Monica to scout out what clothing they had with the blue tag since blue was the color of the week. My total purchase came out to $2 and I walked out with two new outfits. Hope you enjoy this mini-clothing haul !

Outfit #1

Outfit #2: 

Jumpsuit: Target
Dress: Forever 21
Both Purchased at Goodwill

Friday, July 8, 2016

From Potato to Beyontato

"Some days I have my potato days when I just... feel like a potato. But, some days, I look in the mirror and feel like I look like I just came out of Beyonce's vagina."
With such a strange unique introduction, I was immediately curious to know how she described her style, or who inspired her. I'm the type of person that's confident about my style and my personality. But unfortunately, I've never woken up in the morning thinking I looked like I came out of Beyonce's vagina. I know- I still have a lot to learn. Hope you enjoy reading about Monica as much as I loved writing about her!
Monica's Style
"I guess you could describe my style as Street Chic.  By wearing a bomber jacket or a coat on top of jeans and a shirt- I feel more chic. Like I truly came out of Beyonce's vagina. As for inspiration, that would definitely be Kylie Jenner. Despite media criticism, Kylie continues to dress and look the way she wants because she's dressing for none other than herself. Fashion shouldn't be to impress others, but to make yourself feel good."
Monica's Story
"In high school, I would dress up in jeans and a shirt, and had no fashion inspiration. Unlike others, what I wore didn't matter to me. But I began to feel out of place for dressing in this simplistic way.  I began to feel slightly paranoid that others were judging me. So, fashion started to matter more. I put more effort into dressing up my outfits through jackets or shoes"
"My clothes definitely convey maturity. Now, I could care less about how others perceive my fashion style. I still like dressing comfortably, so I guess you could say that I still have that casual look. But I think my clothes also say a lot about how I've changed and matured as a person. In high school, I wasn't me. I was quiet. I was bullied. I let it happen and didn't stand up for myself. But in the past few months in college, I no longer care about what others think of me. I've become more mature. The way I dress now makes me feel confident. And in a way, this newfound confidence through fashion has allowed me to be confident in myself. When I'm excited, I'll literally start doing high kicks out of nowhere. When I feel awkward, I make chicken noises or sing with my "Stitch" voice. I'm embracing my inner potato now. Beyonce would be proud of me."
Jacket: Forever 21
Boots: Macy's
Sunglasses: Windsor
Outfit by Monica Sharma

Monday, July 4, 2016

Fashion speaks LOUDER than words.

There is a popular saying that "actions can speak louder than words". 

It's a well-known idea that what we do has more of an impact than what we say. But an intriguing thought, is how fashion can also speaker louder than words. Our clothing can speak louder than our own words, and has the ability to convey our identities.

Am I being too philosophical? LOL YES. Before I get too carried away, let me explain my story. I have always been interested in fashion. Though I do not consider myself a fashionista, I do believe that I'm not completely hopeless in the world of fashion.

In our society, clothing has become a form of self-expression. How?

When I was in middle school, my fashion statement consisted of skinny jeans paired with t-shirts from specific brands like Hollister, Aeropostale, and Abercrombie & Fitch. But I only formed this style because of the feeling I had to fit in. As a 13 year student, I wanted to blend in with what others were wearing. And as a result, my fashion statement spoke loudly of my desire to conform to society.

When I joined the forensics team (speech and debate), I was told what we were to wear to competitions. I could not wear pantsuits (because of gender related stereotypes that judges might have). I had to have a matching two-piece suit (to make myself seem assertive and professional). And the suit had to be colored (to stand out, I suppose). Even the idea that all women were to wear similar-style-clothing spoke loudly that we were a team. A professional, good-looking, team. HAHA. 

Every artifact of clothing we have tells a story. Even to this day, my mom still holds onto her wedding dress. I still have sweatshirts gifted to me by my ex-boyfriends (don't know why). We all buy clothing with school logos, favorite bands, etc. Sometimes, clothing becomes an artifact of our past lives. And we hold onto these clothes as a reminder of our past and what lessons we've learned. 

Welcome to a New Series:
Essentially, I'm hoping to take my blog towards a more fashion-inspired direction.

For a long time, I have had a deep-rooted admiration for Humans of New York (for more information, click here), and their ability to portray unique stories of people in NY. But, what really caught my interest was the way these people were dressed. Like mentioned above, I truly believe that our fashion and style is shaped by our past experiences, and stories. Every shirt tells a story. 

In ClothedByStrength, I hope to feature different people and to share their stories too. To find out about their past journey, and their future aspirations. And to share about how all of that has shaped their fashion style. And most importantly, to help myself become more "fashionable" in the process. Jk. Kind Of. 

Thanks for reading this lengthy introduction & I hope you also follow along in this journey.

626 Night Market

College life at UCLA is intense. But, it's always nice to relax from your studies, and what better way is there to relax than to eat to your heart's desire at the 626 Night Market? For those of you who do not know, the 626 Night Market is an Asian themed night market featuring hundreds of food vendors, entertainers, art & game exhibits, and much more. It's main purpose is to fuse Asian culture with the L.A. lifestyle. So, for my ABC's, this is the perfect place for you! Because the 626 Night Market is also the largest night market in the U.S., I decided to record my experience for you all. Hope you enjoy!

We got there around 6 & it was already packed!
 BBQ & Cheddar Ranch Potato Sticks
Korean BBQ
Didn't even try LOL. Ping Pong Game.
We ordered the Bulgogi one on the bottom left.
Ring Toss. Game #2.
How can you resist light-up lemonade?
Polka-Dot Waffles.
Even more people at night.