Meet Our Muse: Nancy
You recently moved to NYC do your Masters and work as a stylist, how has that shifted your sense of identity?
I think that moving to any new place will at first perhaps displace one’s sense self, or sense of identity…I think that for a while and even now, how I see myself is constantly shifting. NYC has definitely challenged me in many ways, for the better I think. Before moving to NYC I was really anxious and nervous. I was intimidated by people who’s work I admired in both the academic and fashion spheres. I thought to myself: “I’m not good enough” or “there’s people out there doing better and cooler things than me”. But as I reflect on my past year, I think that the challenges that this city has thrown at me actually made me more and more confident in my ability to excel at whatever I pursue.
Do you find you comprise self-care when you're busy balancing work, school and your social life? How do you try to maintain your self-care routine?
Yes, definitely! Because my life doesn’t consist of any real routine, I often find that I am off balance…either working too much or partying too hard. I describe school life to be constantly looming over you. And working in fashion, especially as a freelance stylist, you just never know when you will be doing what.
The two most basic and in my opinion crucial things to incorporate into your life as forms of self-care are eating well and exercise. To REALLY take your mind off of something, whether it’s work or school related, I think it’s fun to try something you’ve never done before or rarely do. For example, I signed up for a drop-in type of dance class at a studio near my place in Brooklyn, and although it was a little bit stressful at first, I came out of it feeling really great!
As a Chinese-Canadian woman do you relate to the stories of struggle other Chinese-Canadians or Chinese-Americans have felt growing up "in-between" cultures?
For sure. I moved to Canada when I was 11 years old. So technically I’ve spent half of my life in China and half in North America. As a child in China, I watched a lot of Lizzie McGuire on TV (I think it was the only English channel that played teen programming). So before moving to Canada, I had a lot of pre-conceived notions of what life is like in Western part of the world. Needless to say, my preconceptions were not entirely wrong! Mean girl and all haha
But jokes aside, I think one aspect of life that made a tremendous impact on sense of self was the realization that I was different, certain characteristics marked my “Chinese-ness”. Certainly those characteristics that made me visible slowly became my insecurities that I sought out to change throughout middle school and high school.
Do you think you’ve reclaimed your identity?
Yes, I think so. Perhaps I wouldn’t say that I’ve reclaimed it so much as finding it or establishing a sense of identity…
I feel like everyday my identity is still shifting or changing…I am always open to the possibility of my identity changing in the future.
I don’t think that I could be who I am today without the experience I had in middle school and high school. It’s the sense of being confused and lost that made me realized that that was an essential part of the process. A process of coming into one’s own because societal norms do not apply to you. I guess the point at which I began to accept my difference and celebrate who I am and how I look is a marker of me claiming my identity. Even until now, I have to constantly remind myself and actively fight societal norms that try to tell me who I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to look like.
If you could give your younger self one piece of advice on self-acceptance, what would it be?
I’m not sure that my younger self would’ve listened to anyone’s advice! Haha but I guess I would tell her that her difference is what makes her unique and no one can take that from her.
When do you feel most empowered?
I feel the most empowered when I am active, whether that physical or emotional or social.
Which of your physical attributes do you love the most?
I love my eyes and lips! And freckles!
Photography by Jacqueline Ashton.