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Who I am and who I’ll be
Evy and Steph discuss Asian beauty standards and growing into themselves.


19/99        Take us through your daily beauty routine.

Steph Kim        In the mornings I keep it pretty simple. I wash my face with cold water, since it is clean from my whole nighttime routine, put some toner on, I am obsessed with Witch Hazel, and some Rosehip oil & CeraVe Moisturizer. So super simple. And sunscreen, which is essential. It is a new thing for me. I used to never wear sunscreen. But I’m 30 now, and I’m getting a lot of freckles and sunspots, so I put it into my routine. 

Evy Kwong        That’s it?

SK        Oh, and make up. It is super easy. I am always late in the morning, so I take 5 minutes to put my face on. It is just concealer, the cheapest concealer ever, Elf, and I love it because it is not full coverage and I don’t really like full coverage stuff. I only dab it on really red spots. I use a ton of blush, and a ton of bronzer. I am not fancy with my product. I am obsessed with this RMS Highlighter Palette – it’s my favorite. Dring the day I keep it simple – I just wear mascara- Lash Paradise, it is my favorite. It is from the drug store. I stock up on it it’s so good. I always have tons of eyelash curlers. I have them in every bag that I own, and I always curl my eyelashes. Oh and then lastly, most importantly, I do my eyebrows. I always use the Anastasia Brow Whiz in Granite and I use some sort of brow gel to keep it in place. Then I am good to go, and it takes 5 minutes.

19/99        Do you ever put anything on your lips?

SK        I use chap stick – this one called Bear, it is all natural. And then I put on a Marc Jacobs’ lipstick, and it is a ‘your lips but better’ colour.

EK        Okay, my routine is even more chill. I am not afraid to admit that if I am out of face wash, I will use hand soap. I don’t know what to do with make up. My mum never taught me anything about makeup; she doesn't wear a lot of make up. I just know my mum hates wrinkles, so she wears sunscreen. And she tells me I am going to get wrinkles if I don’t wear sunscreen. So she gets me this really nice Vichy sunscreen.

SK        My mum uses that one too!

EK        Sunscreen is an essential for me; winter or summer I always wear Vichy sunscreen on my face. Other than that, I wash my face if I have face wash. No particular brand – I’ve used a Clinique one. From when Aesop was really a thing, I have one of their face cream, but I don’t know if it is better than any other face cream I’ve used. I’ve never really understood skin care much. With make up, I never really put concealer – only if I have a pimple. I don’t put on blush or those kind of things. I always do are my eyebrows because I have no eyebrows. Maybe eyeliner if I’m feeling it, not often in the summer because it is too much of a hassle. And a Benefit mascara- I like it a lot because I don't’ have a lot of lashes and it works. I’ve had fake lashes but this works better for me.

19/99        You both touched on how your mums have said you have to wear sunscreen. Can you both talk a bit about how your cultures, Chinese and Korean, have different standards and what that was like growing up?

EK        Growing up in North America people liked to tan, but my culture doesn’t like to tan. It is something about working on the rice fields – I think we share that with Korean culture. It was as if being whiter was nicer. It could be 40 degrees out and my mum will wear driving gloves, and a visor; she doesn’t want to expose her skin ever. Even an umbrella sometimes, but I’m like ‘Can you please not bring that? It is sunny…just be outside.’

Growing up I wanted to not be so Chinese so I would tan, and never wore sunscreen. Recently I went to get a facial with my mum and the first thing the aesthetician did was comment on how disgusting my freckles were. And it is okay, I get where they are coming from and I don’t actually think my freckles are disgusting. She was saying how my skin tone is two different colours – my forehead was light and my cheeks were dark and I needed to figure it out. I just thought I had a glow. Those are the standards that my mum and some people in my culture still have. But I just can’t, it is too much for me. I like my freckles and I don’t see my skin tone as discoloured. The one thing we can agree on is the sunscreen. I can’t agree with wearing a visor or gloves all the time or not smiling because you’re afraid you’re going to get wrinkles. Is your mum like that?

SK        It is very similar I’d say. Koreans take skin care to the next level, which is really cool. I incorporate some Korean skincare into my daily routine, but my mum was pretty intense about things too. Anti-aging is a big thing in Korea and for Koreans. To start early is ingrained in you; wash your face, wear sunscreen. My mum also had the visors, the arm bands, and all of that. It is such a social norm in Korea. My aunt got made fun of because she was darker than her sisters. When I was a kid, I wanted to be tanned. I was so influenced by Breaker High, people from California, looking super healthy, having that tanned glow. My mum would always be scolding me, but I didn’t care I wanted to get that tan. Even though I was super fair and would always get burnt. Over time my skin has adjusted because my skin takes to the sun very well. But it is ingrained in me to take care of my skin.


19/99        How have you routines changed since you were younger? 

SK        Mine has changed immensely – I do way more stuff now. When I was a kid I did nothing. I would sleep with my make up on and wash it off the next morning. I remember when Stila came out with the best black eyeliner, sometimes I would go to sleep with it on and it would still be perfect in the morning. I would take a Q-tip, clean up my under eyes, touch up the rest of my makeup. That was like my teen and college years. But now, no matter how I arrive at the end of the night, when I get home, I take off my make up, and wash my face. It is essential. I try not to use wipes, because I don’t want to tug on my skin. So I use Bioderma, I love it. And I stopped wearing waterproof mascara, because it is so hard to get off.

EK         I used to try a lot more stuff, watch videos, how to make your eyes look bigger…put the white in the corner of my eyes and it was like wooow. Then I went to high school and it was too much. I would still try things like a smokey eye looked cool. I would search best make up for Asian girls, and see what worked, what didn’t. Now I do less in terms of make up, and maybe more skincare - not really though. I do want to have fun with make up if it is an occasion.

SK        I was the same way. I would do more colour eye shadows. I was so jealous of everyone with a cut crease, and everyone had it; it worked on YouTube, it looked so nice, and it just didn’t go with my eyes. I looked like a raccoon, but I was like… I want to do this, so I’d try things. I would do really bold lip colours – reds, and wines. It is just not my thing anymore. 

19/99        How do you react to the term ‘age appropriate’?

EK        [turns towards Steph] Do you think people judge you because you are 30 and you wear skate clothes? Do you think people question if it is appropriate for the office? Do they say anything to you?

SK        Nobody has ever said anything at the office. If anything they ask for my opinion on work swag.

EK        Good! You are doing something right obviously. Maybe they feel like they are in a box or something.

SK        Age appropriate, I don’t know how I feel. I feel like if anyone can wear whatever they want, go for it. I understand if I saw my mum in a mini skirt I would feel a little bit awkward, but hey – to each their own, if she wants to do that she can do that.

EK        It was a really big problem for my mum because she has friends who are 60, and they are wearing like hoops and mini skirts. And my mum would be critical of her friends for doing that. It is this balance; you want to look young for your age but you can’t try so hard. For me, I still feel so young and I wear what I want to wear.

When I was 16 I worked in retail and I would wear short shorts and stripper boots, and maybe I wouldn’t wear that any more, that is not my style anymore. I am trying to show my natural face and make up, but generally I wear what I want to wear.

SK        As long as you are comfortable in it, you feel like you can rock it and it makes you feel good, who cares what others think. If you feel like this is what you want to do, then it doesn’t matter if anyone else is going to judge you. If you feel good and that you look good, then you are good. Then, when you ask about something being age appropriate, I don’t think that someone need stop you from doing anything you want to do. Or try out and if it doesn’t work out, then you know. You wont’ know until you try. 

19/99        Is there an article of clothing or makeup that you feel like you can’t wear because of societal pressures around your age?

SK        Make up, no. I feel like now a days one can really do anything they want with make up. You can even change your hair colour and it would be chill.

EK        Make up is really a realm of fun. With clothing, I mean, I don’t want to look like someone that goes to Coachella, but I think that is more style choices. I like being comfortable and that may mean not showing everything like maybe I used to.

19/99        Our tastes may change as we get older, what did you like before that you don’t like now? And what did you dislike before, but you now enjoy?

EK        I used to love wearing heels, because I am so short. Now I only wear sneakers exclusively because I can’t walk and will break myself, and it’s about comfort. I like the way heels look, but I have to be able to last throughout the day. Function is huge for me - I wear things with lots of pockets now, whereas I used to wear tighter stuff, sexier stuff. Now it is just cargo pants with lots of pockets and sneakers.

SK         I used to be very dressy, very girly. I used to wear dresses all the time. And stockings. On my god I can’t remember the last time I wore stockings. And heels – Jeffery Campbells. I used to wear exclusively vintage stuff, and got into that whole phase. Not to say that I don’t wear vintage stuff now, because I think it is fun. But am more casual now.

EK        I am happy that we found our style. It can be casual, whereas when I was younger it was always so much; like you are going to get groceries you don’t need to be so fancy.

SK        Yeah, I am happy we are now in a stage where dressing under is better than dressing over.

Oh my gosh, one thing I rocked was major eyeliner under the eye and I would never do that again. Oh my god, it made my eyes look so small. But every other person was doing it. Even then I was like ‘I hate this, it makes my eyes look so small’, and I was self conscious about having ‘small’ eyes. Now I would never do that. I would never rock under eye black pencil.

19/99         Is there anything that you didn’t like then that you like now?

EK        I like baggy clothes cause they are so comfy. And a big reason I do that is that I don’t like any gaze; female or male gaze. Especially the male gaze though. I don’t want people looking at me. I want people to talk to me. Maybe it is from traumatic moments, but I love baggy clothes. I feel so much more comfortable; I can speak and be in my self MUCH more comfortably without thinking that maybe some one has a really weird thought or whatever. It is just something that clears my mind. That is something that has changed for sure.

SK        Earrings. I never wore any jewelry when I was a kid or teenager. I thought I would feel it or something. I have a thing where I don’t want to feel make up on my face or feel weighted down by anything. But as of late I’ve been wearing a lot of jewelry and I think it is really fun. I get to change it up and it enhances my daily look. That is one that I am like…ohh I wish I did think when I was younger.

1999        If you could ask the older and younger generation one questions, what would it be?

EK        I think for the old generation I’d ask about the traditions they hold so strong. There are people who are older and accept newness, but generally they have a set way of doing things. Maybe they think they can’t try new stuff. Where as we are given this privilege that we can try anything. So I would ask to understand why they are so set in their ways. My mum has the same make up routine from when she was 20. She hasn’t changed it one bit. Maybe she has a better lotion, a better brand. She has this huge hair, old school perm style. It is such an old school Jackie O look. But that is the way her mum did it, and my mum just keeps it. I don’t want to go down that path so I would want to understand that.

SK        My mum asks me every day if I want to get a perm.

I would ask the same question for both younger and older: is your routine, whether it is make up or skincare or fashion, for your own personal enjoyment, does it bring you joy? Or are you doing it cause everyone else is doing it?

EK        That is a good question. You see people using so many trends; all the girls wearing crop top and jean shorts, and I’m going to wear the exact same thing….

19/99        Ya and I find the younger generation jumps on trends much more quickly, whereas the older generation is more critical. So that would be my question too; what is your thinking behind this? What is your influence?

EK        It can be positive – the support that Gen Z-ers have, and doing the things they want to do. So I think it is cool that they have the support of each other. I think our age, or the older age, taught us to be so judgmental. Someone new comes in, the first thing is analyze really hard. So I want to know where they get the context to just jump on so easily.

SK        I think the older generation is more reserved with jumping on trends, but when they do it has more longevity to it. Where as our millennial and the younger generation, are really fast to jump on trends and fast at jumping out of trends. Because it is a shame based society once you find out that trend is no longer, or that a person, say a YouTube makeup artist, gets outed for something, the boycott is right away. And they jump onto the next thing.

EK        Maybe because it is less thought initially it is easier to let go of it. Whereas for the older generation’s buy in is much higher so it has to be given much more thoughts and is harder to get out of.

19/99        If you could share advice to your younger self what would it be?

EK         You don’t need to wear such revealing stuff. Find your thing. You don’t need to wear UGGs cause you want to be white. Just don’t follow in that trend. If I was younger and I knew I could be more my fashion experimental self, I would have done it a long time ago. I never thought I had this love of fashion until I accepted myself. I would tell myself it is not going to matter that much one day. You really don’t have to worry that much – high school is not the be all and end all – who you are, where you sit, what you eat. It is about how you act.

SK        Honestly, try it all. It is hard not to get influenced by other people, even to this day. But if you don’t try you won’t know what works for you. But also be honest with yourself, about what works and what doesn’t.

EK        Something we both discussed - just embrace your ‘Asianness’ – you can’t change your eyes, you can’t change your face; you can do as much make up as you want, and wear whatever you want - you just need to love first. Now I love my hair, I love all this stuff. But I used to dye my hair and stuff, and it is fine to dye your hair to have fun. For me it wasn’t for that – it was just to be something different.

SK        For sure, the whole idea of a perm is because you are changing the texture f your hair so it can be something it isn’t. I agree with you whole-heartedly - embracing your ethnicity is a huge part of it. And I think that is what I was always trying not to do. When I was a kid, I tried to do everything to mask my ethnicity and being Asian – I just really really wanted to fit in.

EK        Just accepting my features, and which now I love. Whereas before I used to hate them.

SK        Yeah me too. I honestly think that is the biggest thing. Just because you’re Asian doesn’t mean you’re not beautiful in your own right.

EK        That is a big one.  

19/99        When do you feel the most beautiful?

EK        After I’ve worked out, doing something I love, like my passion for writing scripts, with or without make up. It is really about being in that right place. Makeup and clothes can’t do anything if you really don’t feel yourself. But if I’ve accomplished things then I feel beautiful. It is holistic – my job, my work, everything, my happiness.

SK         I would say it is when I am with supportive people and I am having a good time. I feel the most beautiful when I feel the most comfortable. And when I feel the most comfortable I am around friends, family, laughing and just being myself. And when I put a lot of effort into how I look. That isn’t always, but when I’m going to an event and decide to spend like a good hour on my hair & a good hour on my face, I’ve picked out my clothes & have control of everything, and I have the time.

19/99        What scares you the most about aging?

EK         I don’t want wrinkles.

SK        The inability to be mobile

EK         Oh my god, same, you are right

SK        The immobile, health stuff with aging scares the crap out of me. I do not want to be dependent on other people.

EK         I really don’t want wrinkles, I don't. But the immobile part is scary.

SK        I don't want wrinkles either but having been an independent human for a long time and then you have to depend on other people when your at a certain age is so scary.

EK        I don't’ want to burden people. That is my biggest fear of life.

SK        Same. And wrinkles. I don’t want wrinkles.

19/99        Do you think there is a point where we stop growing and learning?

EK        Hell no. I would not be alive if that was the case. I wouldn’t be happy if that was the case. I want to learn something like every day; I always want to talk to people and learn new things. If I couldn’t stand corrected, and couldn't have debates with people, which is what I live for, I would feel so sad.

SK         I think it depends more on your personality than your age. Changes always happen. So I don't think that there is really a point where you stop learning. Also, in our society we are bombarded with news and things you have to learn anyway. I don't think you ever stop learning.

EK        Agreed. 

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Who I am and who I’ll be