Fairy Kei – Alternative Black Girl

First of all, I apologize profusely because it’s been ages since I last wrote a blog post. Needless to say, a lot has happened. Let me condense the last five months super quickly so I can get on with my topic for today:

Ahem.

Old best friend became new boyfriend. JET didn’t work out. New bf moved in. Newer better job. Better job was bad for my mental and physical health. So I got an even BETTER job as a “job coach” and will continue substitute teaching in the fall. (Oh, did I mention I’m a substitute teacher now?) I threw a book launch party in June for my fantasy novel, The Adventures and Shenanigans of Bastien Falco — that was FABULOUS. Sold like 30 books that month. Also, my birthday was July 5th and I’m 24 now. Yay.

Now. On to the topic at hand. See that dork with the purple hair in this post’s featured picture? That’s me.

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Yep. This is me. When you weren’t looking, I turned into a fairy.

Yes. I’ve done it. I’m a fairy. By that, I mean that I’ve recently gotten really into this style, this lovely slice of Japanese street fashion, called Fairy Kei. As soon as I saw this style, I fell in love immediately. My first thought was: MY PEOPLE! All these pastel rainbow dreamy fairies and unicorns roaming the Earth! I made it my mission to become one of them.

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I’m well aware that they’re Japanese, and that Fairy Kei is a Japanese street fashion thing, but stuff like that has never bothered me. I’ve always been an alternative black girl, searching for my own style. I spent my angsty teenage years dabbling in Goth, Scene, and Punk. I even tried Gothic Lolita, but that was simply to expensive. I never could have afforded it. I’d bought one dress from Hot Topic, and some cute black chokers, but that was just about it.

But then I got to college and realized that I actually look pretty cool in light colors and that wearing all that black wasn’t really flattering on me.

And then, just five months ago, I discovered Fairy Kei, and I realized that this was what I’ve been trying to be. I mean, who cares that I’d be the only black girl I know dressing this way? That had never stopped me before. I’d been teased so many times before, since junior high (when I loved wearing MCR and Green Day t-shirts), so I’ve become numb to it. Why should I feel bad about myself when people who wear nothing but t-shirts and jeans — BORING CLOTHES — all the time make fun of what I wear?

Summer of 2013 started my own personal era of fashion. Forever 21 was my best friend. Then, I went to Japan and lost my mind, shopping in Shibuya, Tokyo. I was drunk on compliments in both Japan and the U.S. But see, even though I was stylish back then, I was still sort of conventionally stylish. I wore bows and stuff and dressed up — I looked like a doll going to class — but it was nothing compared to trying to imitate Japanese street fashion.

Street. Fashion.

You know, like those Harajuku Girls that Gwen Stephani was so crazy about.

Gwen Stefani Visits MTV's ''TRL'' - December 10, 2004

Gwen Stephani and her Harajuku Girls

Except now, Harajuku has pushed street fashion to its limits. We’re talking going beyond Fairy Kei. The fashion style in the photo below, my friends, is called Decora:

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It’s a bit too much for me, but I can respect it.

But back to Fairy Kei.

My family and friends are pretty much used to me by now, dressing the way I do. No one bots an eye. I get compliments on how cute I am — even from strangers. Thankfully, I surround myself with loving and open-minded people, so I never really have to worry too much about feeling weird about the way I dress. Fairy Kei makes me feel girly. It makes me feel good.

However, some alternative black girls aren’t so lucky. It doesn’t matter if they’re Goth or Fairy Kei or anything in between (Pastel Goth is literally smack dab in the middle). They are dressing in a way that makes them happy, but for some reason, dressing “out of the norm” is not widely celebrated in the black community. To more fully understand what I mean, consider reading this article, The Issue with the Perceived “Whiteness” of Being an Alternative Black Girl.

When I go on YouTube and watch videos by Fairy Kei vloggers, they are almost exclusively white and Asian. And when I dared to post fairy videos of my own, I will admit that I felt a little self-conscious.

But I mean. Pastels look good with my skin tone, too.

And it helps, that, from what I’ve seen, the Fairy Kei community seems to be very inclusive and warm. It welcome fairies who are trans or gender-queer without question. There are plus-sized fairies running around.

And, of course, there are us, black fairies. ❤

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I don’t know who this girl is, but I seriously need to get on her level.

So, if you’re a secret (or not-so-secret) alternative black girl, wear whatever the hell you want to wear! If Fairy Kei looks appealing to you, I encourage you to try it out! There may be people out there who will call you names and make fun of you, but those idiots aren’t worth your time. Life it too short for boring clothes. And life it too short not too wear what you want to wear. (I mean, depending on where you work, you may not want to wear Decora/Fairy Kei/Goth/Lolita/Punk/Metal-type stuff to your job. But, you know. Compromise.)

So, long story short: If you want to do the thing, THEN DO THE THING! ❤ I promise you, it’ll feel great.

 

Also, if you’re interested in my super new YouTube channel (it’s really silly and dumb — don’t check it out), it’s called Star Blush Universe. As of today there are two really boring videos. You’re better off just scrolling through my tumblr.

Until next time~!

 

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Adulting as an Adult in the Adult World

Woooah, it’s been a whopping three months or so since I posted in this dusty ol’ blog of mine. Let me tell you, though, that between November and now, my life has been figuratively going off the wheels on a crazy train.

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Random: I also like Bullet For My Valentine’s cover of the song…

So, listen up — if you’re a post-college twentysomething on the adulting struggle bus (or the adulting crazy train) and are about to spin out of control, trust me, you are not alone in this. Just when you think you’re getting your shit together, some evil villain with a ridiculous mustache sneaks in and blows up your train tracks with a few sticks of dynamite.

(Or, if you’re a George Saunders fan and have read “Winky,” someone is shitting in your oatmeal.)

It was in November that I began the long journey of preparing to teach English in Japan via the JET Program. I made it through the first screening quite easily and was scheduled for an interview in the first week of February. As qualified as I am for the position, I felt like I bombed the interview… Maybe that was my anxiety kicking in. Everyone assured me that I likely did just fine. But either way, the wait would be agonizing. I won’t know if I made it or not until April. (It’s the end of February, and this year’s a leap year. So I have to wait a whole extra day for March to come!)

But I still planned accordingly. My boyfriend (now my ex), and I have this cute house in a nice, quiet neighborhood with my two cats, and he was going to hold down the fort while I went away to Japan for a year. And then I would come back with lots of money and work as an ESL instructor. Not exactly my dream job, but it’s not too far away from my college studies, and it’s a stable career. It’s pretty much the natural progression after teaching for JET.

But just a couple days after my interview, shit really hit the fan. Two years’ worth of the non-communicative boyfriend’s simmering resentment had built up, and, long story short, we broke up. And though he had me believe that things were still fine and that he’d still support me me until I could stand on my own two feet, things apparently weren’t fine.

So then, here I am, working a part-time job in food service that pays peanuts, trying to schedule driving lessons and get my license as soon as possible, worrying over the fact that neither of my prescription meds are available in Japan, and then one morning I wake up to find that my emotionally abusive ex had taken to Facebook to slander my name and spread lies about me. And also tagged my family and friends.

Now that was a shit show.

I’m dealing with enough crap of my own without my personal business (and a smearing campaign against me) being put out on the web for the world to see. There is a reason why I don’t announce breakups over Facebook…

So then he decided he wanted to kick me out of the house, which meant I needed to find somewhere to live, and I also needed to find a better-paying job, AND I needed to find a reliable way to get to said job. And a roommate who doesn’t mind two cats.

But I decided I wanted to keep the house, which means speeding up my learning how to drive and applying to full-time jobs like crazy. In the past three days, I have applied to nine. And though I’ve never had to take the bus before (before moving to this house, living on and near campus meant I could pretty much walk anywhere I wanted), I started looking up bus routes and schedules.

I need time to save up money so that he can finally move out. And my cousin could move in with me after she’s saved up enough.

But see, there’s another problem. If I get to go to Japan, she wouldn’t be able to pay for the house by herself, and I wouldn’t have anyone who could watch my cats for me for a whole year.

And say I end up landing a job as a success coach on the university campus (which I SO hope to get) which would pay $3,000 a month. It wouldn’t look good for me to be there for only five to nine months until I have to up and leave for Japan.

This went from the perfect time to time to do JET! to the worst time ever to do JET.

I’ve done a lot of growing up these past few days, and I guess learning that sometimes your huge plans just don’t work out is a part of adulting.

Although I was careful not to go into much detail, this is probably the most personal post I’ve ever published on this blog. I want young adults struggling out there to know that where you are right now isn’t necessarily where you’re always going to be. Some days are more difficult than others, and some days I have to power through the anxiety and depression, but keeping a positive outlook in the back of your mind is way more important than you might think (believe me, as someone who takes meds for depression). We’re all still learning, and we’ve still got a ways to go.

I’d spent two years with someone who would tell me the opposite of what he felt and would place all the blame on me when things went wrong, taking none of the blame for the things he’d done wrong. (And my apologies were never good enough.) Someone who saw me as a mentally fragile child and treated me as such, even though I’m strong enough to handle many of the issues he’d withheld from me. (So imagine my shock when I saw he’d resorted to high school-level spitefulness on social media.) After I finished grad school, I’d worked on writing and marketing my novel while he worked to support us both, and that was where we both fucked up. My development into adulthood was stunted by this major mistake — one that we had both naively agreed to do — but I was 22 and he was 23, and we didn’t know any better. Now we do.

I’m 23 now. Just when I start to think I’m getting old, shit like this happens and I realize:

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So what have I learned? No matter how well you prepare for a huge plan in your life, something can always mess it up. And people don’t deserve to be in serious relationships — let alone live together — unless they have their shit together and are at least a little established. And joining the full-time adult world of 8am to 5pm means that I’ll need to survive on coffee (yuck) or energy drinks (also yuck). And romantic love is the messiest abstract thing in the world.

Adventures in Japan, Part 3: Stupid gaijin ordered too much rice

Sorry it took so long! I’ve been focusing on too many things are once. But here is a third tale of my adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Of the three weeks my friends and I spent in Japan, we spent the whole first week in wonderful, beautiful Tokyo – my favorite city in the whole wide world. But because so many people there assume you only want to communicate in English, it doesn’t always offer the best opportunities for practicing Japanese.

When they spoke to me in English, and I replied in Japanese, many were impressed and delighted. Some, however, just kind of replied to me in English anyway, which was kind of annoying.

But let me assure you, my good friends. Tokyo isn’t full of English-speakers. There were times when we came across Tokyoites who blushed and insisted that their English was terrible. We couldn’t always understand each other. And, while my Japanese was pretty good, I wasn’t 100% fluent. I could get around, order things, ask questions, have conversations, but there were small gaps in my knowledge…. such as how to say, “I’d like this bowl of rice, but split in four, please.”

Three of my friends and I went out to eat at this restaurant, and our server, however adorable, couldn’t not understand English very well. That was fine with us, because we knew how to order food in Japanese. The problem was, when we asked how big the bowls of rice were, he showed us with his hands that the bowls were pretty huge.

So, we thought, okay cool – we can just split that in four. But see… we couldn’t figure out how to say that in a way that our server could understand.

But he eventually nodded as if knowing what we were talking about, and things were pretty great… until he arrived with our meals and four gargantuan bowls of rice. He was smiling until he saw our collective looks of horror, and so he looked worried, too. When he asked what the matter was, we tried to explain the issue…

Meanwhile, the able next to us had a group of drunk Japanese friends around our age. God, they were cracking up. They must have thought we couldn’t understand them, but we knew they were talking about us. The things they were saying pretty much summed up to lol look at those stupid foreigners, ordered all that rice, hahaha!

Wasting food is a big no-no in Japan. But somehow, we were able to get out of being charged a fee for all the uneaten rice. One of us even drew him a little picture of Batman and wrote him a little thank you. On our way out, he sort of laughed and placed it to his heart saying, “It will be my treasure!”

So, all’s well that ends well, I guess.

(Still wonder what they did with all that rice, tho.)

Where Do I Go From Here?

I noticed that some Americans really like to ostracize other Americans. I often hear the phrase, “Well, if you hate it here so much, you should just leave.”

Yes, leaving is definitely an option. Another option is stopping to wonder why these people are so unhappy in this country.

Look, I’m American, born and raised. I love America with all its free speech and ubiquitous free wi-fi. But… I also know that America is pretty fucked up.

We were the 18th country to legalize same-sex marriage (took along enough), and people are still fighting it tooth and nail. Many people are using the same excuses that were used when interracial marriage was illegal.

On a related note, a surprising amount of people are unable to separate church and state. To some, a completely secular government would be the end of times. Fire and Brimstone!!

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Apparently this is what they think a secular government would look like.

Little do they know, Sweden, France, the Netherlands, and many other nations have secular governments and are doing just fine.

And when I was in Japan for a month, I felt more like an equal and a human being than I feel here sometimes. The Japanese never made me feel self-conscious about being black (except for the three times I was asked to get my picture taken. One of them was when I was standing next to my tall, handsome, blond-haired, blue-eyed friend). Here, I’m sometimes followed around stores even though shoplifting is the last thing on my mind. People sometimes lock their cars when my dad strolls by, even though he’s a hard-working, productive member of society. And even though my boyfriend takes his profession seriously, in nursing school, he still encountered patients who refused to be treated by a black nurse.

America isn’t even among the top ten nations with the best education systems! And there’s no sign of that changing any time soon.

We’re not in the top ten for health care, either. Surprise, surprise. (Even though ours is ridiculously expensive.)

And, we also have a bit of a prison problem: “Not only does the U.S. lead the world in incarcerations per 100 thousand of population, but it is home to largest total number of prisoners. Roughly 2.2 million people are incarcerated in the United States. China’s estimated prison population totals to only 1.6 million people.” (Statista). We’re second only to Seychelles. This is kind of embarrassing.

Obesity is out of control. (Seriously, people threw a fit when McDonald’s first tried to sell apples, but all hell broke loose when Twinkies went out of business.)

Our cops are out of control. (Not all cops – yes, I know. But you can’t deny that we have way more bad apples than we need.)

And let me tell you, we’re on no one’s list for happiest country.

So, taking all this into account (and this isn’t even all of it), it’s natural to wonder where else I could live.

Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands have some of the happiest people.

Japan, Canada, the Netherlands, and the U.K. are among the top ten education systems.South Korea is number one, but I wouldn’t touch South Korea with a 50-foot pole. Case and point:

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(Pretty ignorant for the so-called best educated nation in the world, hm?)

The U.K., France, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, and the Netherlands are all among those in top ten healthcare.

And I also did a search for the “most tolerant” countries. And after various perusals, the Netherlands was consistently the top choice.

The Netherlands is also extremely energy efficient. (Germany is number one.)

Look, I am seriously considering learning Dutch and moving to the Netherlands. (I’m also told New Zealand is a great choice as well.)

And before you say it: I do know that racism is everywhere and no nation is perfect. I also realize how lucky I am to have been born an American. I don’t hate this country – you won’t catch me burning flags or shitting on them – but at the same time…

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(Side note: And yes, I know “Black Pete” is a thing. But, to be fair, if a character who is Santa’s helper is the biggest racial issue in the country, I’m pretty sure I can overlook it.)

(Side-side note: Does anyone know what ballroom is like in the Netherlands?)

Adventures in Japan Part 2: Kawaii, Kawaii!

Our first day in Tokyo, after lecture, we toured the Meiji Shrine in Shibuya – breath-taking! The flourishing forest stole my heart immediately. I felt a profound calmness while walking along the greenery.

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Isn’t this a stunning view of the Torii gate shrouded in foliage? ❤

I even worked up the courage to approach one of the shrine maidens for a picture. So, I said, “Shashin onegaishimasu?” (“Could I please take a picture?”). Her nods were so slight, I didn’t read them at first. But, my cousin ended up taking our picture, and we thanked her.

Shortly after, my group was trying to decide where to go for lunch before exploring Harajuku, when a Japanese man walked by with a camera around his neck and stopped at me – only me! – and asked for a picture. He took a couple, thanked me, and walked off. Everyone in the group, including me, were like, wtf just happened? It was pretty lolzy. There were nine of us, but only two of us – my friend and I – were (noticeably) black. <– This is relevant, I promise.

The same thing happened in Akihabara! A small handful of us were  lolzing around outside a sex shop (that sex shop is an entire story in and of itself – I’ll discuss it in a future post, haha) when another Japanese man walked by and asked me if he could take a picture. Only me. And then he thanked me and walked away. We were starting to notice a pattern.

So then. Way, way, later on in the trip, we’re heading from Nagoya (where we met our Japanese friends from Aichi University) to Toyohashi (where our host families lived), and while walking up the stairs, an older Japanese man nodded to me and said, “Kawaii! Kawaii!” (“Cute! Cute!”)

Oh, Japan.

My super kawaii chocolate self loves you, too.

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Adventures in Japan Part 1: Shopping in Shibuya

After shuttling from Narita to Ikebukuro and settling in Sakura Hotel (and catching some much-needed shut-eye), I woke up at 5 in the morning nice and refreshed. Tokyo was mine to explore.

I can’t explain how surreal this was. I’d had dreams of going to Japan since I was 11 years old – and there I was, 20 years old, touring the beautiful Meiji Shrine, eating crepes in Harajuku, and shopping in Shibuya.

Right now, I’m a solid size small and wouldn’t have any worries about fitting clothes in Japan, but back then (two years ago), I was slightly bigger – having to purchase mediums and larges in U.S. stores, so I was worried about not being able to fit clothes in Japanese malls. At the time, I found some Japanese mediums I could fit, but many were too small, and almost none of the stores carried any larges.

Sometimes, I felt like an elephant amongst gazelles, and it really kind of messed with my psyche.

But! It was always a slight self-esteem boost whenever I did find something cute that I could wear – all of which were mediums or one size fits all.

The inside of 109 (a huuuge department store) is pretty much every girly-girl’s dream. The shopkeepers are all so pretty and glamorous, and nice! Some stand in the doorways inviting people in with “Irasshaimasse!!” which means “welcome.”

So, I wandered into one of the stores. The shopkeeper initially spoke to me in English, telling me which outfits were on sale. After looking around, I found an outfit, and went up to her, saying, “Anou, sumimasen.” (“Um, excuse me.”) I gestured toward the fitting room and asked, “Haite mo ii desu ka?” (“Is it okay if I enter?”)

The longer I was in Japan, the more I realized how many Japanese people brighten up when they realize you can speak and understand Japanese. She then explained to me, in Japanese, that the outfit was not a set, so I could get a different color shirt with the cardigan, if I wanted to.

So, when I tried on the outfit, she gushed and said, “Kawaii!!” (“Cute!!”)

Needless to say, I bought the hell out of that outfit. (And it no longer looks slightly too small on me.)

~*~~* Want more life in Japan posts? Stay tuned. *~~*~