Bursting The Privilege Bubble Pt. 1: An Evolutionary Journey Of Unlearning Prejudice

I am a minority in most parts of the world, a minority within a minority (i.e. Chinese and Christian) in Indonesia and a majority in Singapore (or any other Chinese-speaking/dominated country). I have attended private schools all my life, been sheltered in well-decorated places, travelled the world (except for Africa, Antarctica and South America) and I can afford to get proper healthcare, plus insurance. I have the luxury to treat myself to Sephora or a nice vintage designer apparel I happily discover on consignment sites or bazaar sales. Ditto with being able to survive on unpaid internships. While the perks I have were things that I used to take for granted, what I didn’t realize until today is the fact that my privilege has been a ticket that got me to do well in life since I was born. With the current crisis that is unfolding across the States as well as the centuries-long systemic racism, it’s made me wonder if I have done my part to be a better human.

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27 Things I’ve Learned As I turn 27

The first quarter of 2020 felt like whirlwind and as we’re all entering in the last month of the second quarter, I also realize that at this point, I’m about to enter another year around the sun at 27. While it’s the most dreaded number of your twenties thanks to the 27 Club, I have to accept that this is the reality that I’m about to walk in. Not only do I feel that this is where I have to face crucial decisions in my life due to the return of Saturn, I am at a point where I have never felt more comforted with working on building my sense of self worth and bettering myself.

Inspired by Taylor Swift’s “30 Things” for Elle, here are the top 27 things I’ve learned:

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Real Girls Talk: Sustainable Organization With Beauty Pantry

Staying in has never felt sexier. As someone who loves to go out, the mere thought of having to lock myself at home scared the hell out of me when I first found out about the circuit breaker on April 7th. However, I’ve came to accept that after all, having to stay at home means making the most out of things I never really paid much attention to such as organizing. Given that frequent sales – especially on beauty products – are happening so often, it means having to struggle with organization, which is a weak point for myself.

I decided to get in touch with the girl bosses behind Beauty Pantry, Kimberly Ong, a digital writer, and Sarah Bennett, a design engineer. Ong and I were previously co-interns at Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore two years ago. Since we bonded over our love of being green and beauty products, I have seen her passions blossom into an educational Instagram account/shop, Beauty Pantry, which used to be Beauty Uncovered. While Beauty Uncovered schooled us on the effects of consuming mica to harmful ingredients like SLS, Beauty Pantry is a marketplace where you can shop for unused to lightly used beauty products.

Though sustainable consumption and education are still a priority for the BP team, I decided to check in with Ong and Bennett to talk about organizing beauty products, what clean beauty products to start with, which ingredients to stay away from and solutions to fixing face mask acne.

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5 Non-Basic Ways To Wear Black

Striking, iconoclastic and sophisticated, no other color can make me smile more than black. Like second skin, it’s naturally part of my DNA as I cannot live without wearing it. It’s also my default color when I run out of ideas on what to wear.

Please watch this video on how to I wear black:

Follow me on TikTok @michyvari!

Unlearning Toxic Femininity

Being stuck at home sounds like the worst thing to ever happen to anyone who’s been living in the developed world and the thought of going stir crazy is always just a minute away. However, the silver lining of being in quarantine – whether you’re alone or with family members – is being able to have some alone time and reflect when when you truly need to disconnect from your phone, laptop and TV.

Though staying connected is an important aspect for me, I’ve been chipping out my time to binge watch dating reality TV shows on Netflix, namely Love Is Blind and Too Hot To Handle. As someone who is all about wellness, compassion, speaking up and creating a new space for us (via this blog) to share about having to battle gendered issues, I realized that there is SO much about myself I needed to unlearn.

Since young, I was conditioned (via movies and TV shows) to subscribe to this image of a girl who needs to change herself for a man. On top of movies and TV shows, the fashion magazines that I admired growing up always told me to dress for a guy. Not only was I conditioned to change my personality and dress sense for a guy, I was being advised to act too hard to get if I had to date a crush. From peers to adults, that was the most useless advice I was ever given because trying to play that part ultimately failed me in landing proper dates outside of the Bumble, Hinge and Tinder convo.

However, the flip side was actually trying to control the guy. In this case, it meant either playing with his feelings (either if you’re dating or played hard to get to pretend to be interested in him) or trying to change him. Thankfully, I am not like that as I believe in honesty and value one’s right to exercise their freedom; however, I saw this get revealed in Too Hot To Handle when one of the girls admitted to being called “controlling” all because she wanted to change the guy. Sadly, this behavior was and still is all too common, especially when I’ve heard it from male friends who told me that the girls they dealt with were like this.

Though the trend of ending toxic masculinity has been spreading like wildfire on social media (which I am very happy for), I feel that toxic femininity has been underrepresented on social media. Inspired by David Birtwistle’s TikTok video on “How To Get The Girl”, I decided to play my own spin on “How To Get The Guy”.

Looking at this now, I’m nearly approaching my Saturn Return, which makes me become more reflective into taking account of what I can do to change myself and unlearn dangerous patterns of toxic femininity before I can date again. Since this is still a process of discovery for me, I have not yet fully figured out what I can do to unlearn as approaching 27 in a month still sounds scary. Relearning healthier dating habits are things I have yet to fully acquire, but I hope that this 15 second video and post can be an inspiration for you to learn how you can be better humans once you return to the post-corona dating world.

Man Crush Monday: Shaun TUpaz

Last year, I was attending a Lacoste event stuck in the middle of the atrium at Orchard Central. Though we were in an enclosed space inside a mall, this little cozy spot was a playground for extroverts like myself to meet people. Tabitha Nauser performed that night, my best friend and I took photos with her, then we both of met an unexpected character whom none of us ever heard of. With jet black hair, a warm smile and dressed in a black tee, the man who caught our attention was Shaun Tupaz, a radio host/actor/stand up comedian. From that night, we swapped Instas.

Fast forward to fall 2019, I attended two Tupaz stand up shows and realized what it was that drew me to feature him: his sense of humor and friendliness. There was zero artifice. Born and raised in Singapore, the 33-year-old Scorpio is also – his own words – S.I.N.G.L.E – Strong, Independent, Noticeable, Generous, Loving, Enlightened. Though he’s “not so” single, the self-described “raised on Netflix and Spotify” comedian is also a spinning instructor.

We chat about comedy, why having a sense of humor is sexy, body shaming, being a “fatness influencer”, why we shouldn’t go back to toxic people.

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MY AM and PM Skincare Routine

Staying in, forgoing the makeup and barely going out is great to let your skin breathe. On the flip side, when you want to wear a mask while exercising, the sweat around your mouth area gets active, causing you to break out or get a bad case of clogged pores (it has happened to me!). Alongside the change of weather from winter to spring (or summer to fall if you’re in Oz), that also triggers a new set of skin issues. Ditto with moving into a new place, too.

Since my skin has been through hell and back, I’m just so thankful that it’s been treating me well (save for the hormonal acne I get when it’s near that time of the year – ugh!). Even as I experiment with new products, I have to admit that I never got one too many issues with it as I mainly stick to using clean beauty brands. My friends have always asked me to how I get good skin and my sister calls to ask me which products she must use.

The secret? It’s all about being informative about which products suit your skin. In that case, it means using products that DON’T contain: parabens, artificial fragrances, alcohol, silicones, BHA and other skin unfriendly preservatives that damage your poor precious canvas. By being clean with your skin, it will also be clear as well!

Ditto with kicking gluten, dairy, processed foods and alcohol* (except for wine). (I’m sorry, carb, beer and fast food lovers!) Same with cigarettes and vaping as the heavy metals and other pollutants inside the secondhand smoke age you like CRAZY! (DISCLAIMER: I have socially smoked and vaped on/off in the past and those are the things I don’t do anymore. It’s just gross, period!) Same with eating too much meat, sushi and eggs as those things ARE linked to acne due to vitamin B12. (Heck, even my old derm Dr. Lancer has even advised me to AVOID eating sushi!) Like any other Indo girl, my addiction to fried food is real and unfortunately, I had to kick that to the curb as the oils from all that frying DO cause acne.

Regardless of some products, I do the best I can to stick to a clean beauty brand as those have greatly helped my skin. To be honest, most of these brands happen to be things I discovered during my travels, Sephora trips or Instagram. I have to admit that sometimes, some brands don’t ship to Singapore, so that kinda made me extra stingy about using these products generously! (Sadly, that includes CBD skincare as I was only able to try them abroad in Europe or the States!!)

Alright, here is a breakdown of my AM and PM routines:

This is my secret to how I get ready in the morning!
This is how I get ready for bed!

*Speaking of alcohol, grain alcohols such as vodka and whiskey are quick fix exceptions as that helps to kill the germs. It might not work for everyone, but it has worked for me!