Margaret Zhang, Yan Yan Chan and Estelle Tang - I found these three girls one by one. There's nothing remarkable about them other than that they're awesome, just as awesome as any other successful person in their field. What they brought to the table for me was their similarities. They went through what I'm going through, and they came out like that on the other end.
In my earlier Instagram days I was enamoured with following models. They were beautiful people living beautiful lives. It was all so utterly, completely aesthetic. And so, I found Margaret Zhang: photographer, IMG model, Australian student with a 99+ ATAR. She was everything I wanted. She did math, she was an edgy kind of beautiful, she played the piano as an art form - the way it should be played, she studied at the gargoyle-embellished University of Sydney, she was an impeccable writer and most importantly, she looked great sitting front row at New York Fashion Week.
I pored over her Instagram and watched numerous interviews. Margaret was studying law while networking while jetting across the world and taking photos of Karlie Kloss. She was the perfect definition of a girl who has everything - probably at some expense, but somehow she made it work.
But it was only recently that I really looked at her blog, Shine By Three. And by looked, I mean lurked. I did some serious lurking. I lurked all the way back to posts from when she was 17, posts where she had deleted half the content out of shame, growth or moving on. There I found photos from her Year 10 formal, from the time spent with her friends, from parties and hikes and 17 year old fashion shoots. Margaret Zhang was just like us.
And yet, somehow, she has found herself living an inhumanely aesthetic lifestyle in New York city. That's what I call a true idol.
Yan Yan Chan
Somehow my Instagram taste moved from models to personalities that were some form of cool, arty, slightly hipster. You know, those girls who wear sneakers and gold glasses, pants that aren't skinny or shirts with obscure or way-too-common logos, who have boyfriends with brown hair, make collages and have stylish rooftop parties... Yan Yan Chan was one of them. The girl was cute. She was quirky. She was fun. She was somehow childish yet super mature. And her aesthetics, well they were out of this world. She was the coolest Asian I had ever seen.
It was only recently that I discovered she had a blog, and that she was a blogger, and had been one when she was 17. Unlike me though, she had a blog with a simple French name - something with taste, unlike The Life of Little Me (side note, should I change my blog name or just live with it for memory's sake). In one of her recent posts entitled On My Mind she mentions that the post is 'Real Personal, an homage to the beginnings of this blog'.
And that's what blogging is about at this age, isn't it? It's about sharing your thoughts, material you find interesting, your experiences, your idols. Your words are floating on the big wide internet, yet these words are contained in your little corner, your super personal corner, a corner that's more like a journal, and that's more for yourself than the rest of the big wide world. There's something pretty about being a journal girl, about recording memories and keeping diaries. Yan Yan Chan - this super cool photographer, fun girl - reminded me of that. And here I am. Blogging after quite a while. Watch this space. There's more to come.
If we're talking about personally relatable backgrounds, Estelle's is eerily familiar. As a contributor to my favourite blog, Rookie, I used to comment on her articles all the time, with no clue of who she was. To view one of her explicably relatable articles and one of my cringey comments, read this post: How to Talk About Yourself (Without Feeling Gross). At the beginning of the article she mentions her Asian Australian culture and upbringing, and some of the traits and beliefs she gained from that. It's like as soon as I read the words Asian Australian I'm like Yes YES I immediately feel a connection. The reason I'm sharing this is because the other day, while reading some of her work, I came across her reply. She had responded to my comment. Hurray! An interaction!
And why this sudden interest in Estelle Tang when I had no idea who the author of these articles were before? Well, little did I know, we used to go to the same Sunday family dinners when she was a teenager and I was a toddler. Her mother was the bane of every child's existence, the bearer of kumon, a repetitive boring tutoring program that sent kids into temper tantrums and strikes. Her mother, her family, was practically identical to my own, if not a little more strict.
And with this upbringing. With mothers with morals and ideas that will never break through the culture barrier, with parents who have trained us to be master thinkers from a young age, with our crazy, driven, competitive relatives, with skewed ideas of success and restrictions on particular experiences, with a background completely opposed to any sort of unstable lifestyle, with parents who have worked hard to provide us with the best, unaffordable education, she moved to New York City. She lived in a share house. She struggled for a while. She became an editor of Elle Magazine. She recently interviewed Miranda Kerr. She is someone in my wide 'family' who has done something a little different, writing something I consume, enjoying the same media as me.
And now I want to find everything she has written on her background. I want to see what she went through, understand what may be ahead, be understood. There is something about reading content by people who understand what you do that makes you feel less alone. Read some of her work HERE.