I suffer from a severe case of “poop hands.” Said condition directly translates from a Korean phrase commonly used to tease someone who’s incredibly unlucky with her hands—enter Exhibit A.

Monopoly? Please! Jail is my second home—specially reserved for me.

Rock-Paper-Scissors? If only the rules of winning were reversed, and losers become winners, I’d reign.
Art-class? We have a mutual relationship—of dislike. Somehow, my best efforts unwittingly produce a stick-figure who has only one arm, but three legs.

But there’s one place where my fingers don’t fail me: the art of textiles—arranging pieces of clothing that, alone, seem mismatched, but combined, harmoniously merge to produce a stunning masterpiece that is my outfit.

I wasn’t always so confident in my fashion, however. Diagnosed at 10, scoliosis forced me to wear shirts three-sizes larger, to hide the bulky brace that encompassed my entire upper torso. As my severe spine-curvature worsened, I hovered on the edge of a spectrum riddled with self-loathing and doubt, afraid to witness my flawed anatomy against the unyielding mirror.

My APIA identity as a Korean-American also fostered my increasing contempt for the destructive influence of inflicting bias towards only certain features. For instance, K-pop—Korean pop—is currently a tremendous phenomenon in Korean culture, where celebrities’ visual appearances hold just as great of an impact as their talent. There is almost an unspoken rule that all Korean artists must be attractive. If they do not fit the Korean beauty standards of extremely low weight, big eyes, small and thin nose, criticism is inevitable.

But not only do these celebrities suffer under the burden of maintaining a perfect facade, the public, too, is overwhelmed with negative judgment of their plain appearances, which pale in comparison to those of the idols. I, too, am a victim of this unnecessary scrutiny—frequently labeled as someone who doesn’t look Korean, because I have neither big eyes with double eyelids, nor a thin nose. I am chubby. I grew up embarrassed of my appearance, afraid to venture outside—afraid to make eye contact with my friends and family.

Before I knew it, I became a victim of Lookism—judging how well people associate within a certain standard of beauty. My perspective tinted—only to criticize every one of my flaws. I convinced myself I was ugly—and it broke me.

But it was when I was at my lowest, spiraling into a funnel of self-hate, that I discovered the work of American photographer Irving Penn. Although he, unfortunately, passed away twelve years ago, his expertise in photography has made huge bounds in bridging the gap of lookism, by finding beauty in all sorts of places and objects. In addition to capturing the images of glamorous celebrities, Irving Penn was also famous in his juxtaposition of subjects, by focusing on street debris because “even a simple object lying by chance in such a light takes on an inner glow.”

This single quote transformed my entire outlook on life. Penn inspired me to begin experimenting with my gigantic t-shirt, which originally served as an escape method to shield my physical imperfections—my humped back, slanted hips, and uneven ribcage.

Trial and error taught me colorful skirts should never be worn over either sweatpants or just as equally bright jeans. But mix-and-match showed me, first-hand, the connection between creation and possibilities. My oversized shirt became more than just an unflattering top. Layered with a loose hoodie and sweatpants, it was now a lazy outfit for buying groceries; accompanied by a skirt and knitted cardigan, it was the perfect school attire; and it never failed for a casual date with friends when donned with a denim jacket and jeans. From the one article of clothing that I despised, I found beauty, acceptance, and a whole new world of infinite possibilities.

Today, I share my passion by uploading my own outfit posts on my fashion blog—imperfect spine and all. My disadvantages still persist. Every single day, my back aches in pain. I look in the mirror, only to witness my distorted body. But I’ve gradually adapted, to flourish as an individual today who loves myself. My monolids are beautiful—and that is a fact. Whereas I once used to frown at my reflection, I cannot help but beam as I view my flat nose, tan skin, and black hair. Without these features, I can’t imagine who else I’d be. My name is Lucia, and I am just me.

I—once a monochromatic individual bound by unrealistic ideals of perfection—am now a million: a writer, a photographer, a terrible sketcher—perhaps an amateur fashion connoisseur, amongst others. I’ve broken free from when I was at my lowest—restricted by my chains of low self-esteem. Now, there’s no other path for me than to go up, where I have the honor of constantly improving as I work to produce the output—in promoting inclusiveness, diversity, and unification through my online fashion community.

Although I may not have Midas’ touch, I take pride in my Asian American heritage, as well as my poop hands. Instead of superficial gold, I breathe life into my outfits, whilst introducing a wonderfully nuanced world of identities—a space where we are free to be whoever we want—to the people I meet through my blog. I dedicate hundreds of hours experimenting with my fabrics and researching—with the intent to educate thousands by destroying preconceived notions of what society deems as beautiful.

As an Asian-American leader, I strive to create impact, whether it be through my words or through the visual medium of photography. With never-ending zeal, I always give my one-hundred percent to pursue my ambitions. I speak as a representative for a thousand members who are dedicated to my blog and earnestly emphasize messages of self-love, confidence, and acceptance to those who need them. I recognize that I am not perfect. My words can be choppy, and my photos may be blurry. My fingers may unravel the stitches on my fabric. But such minuscule details speak volumes in portraying the beauty of realism—the timeless beauty conjured from our imperfections.


3 thoughts on “My Asian American “Poop Hands””
  1. i really enjoyed how you overcame your difficulties and obstacles to find beauty and acceptance in yourself. nice work!

  2. I felt really inspired by this essay; I’m so glad you were able to overcome the challenges you faced! Seeing this, I really wanted to find your fashion blog, as not only did your paragraph about fashion interest me but you also seem like a cool person in general. I’m not too keen about the internet and a simple Google search didn’t help me too much, so it’d be cool if you could drop a link (no pressure, though!)

  3. Such an inspiring story. Skillful writer. I am blown away by your struggles and successes.

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