Idealized is a photography project I started in 2015 and still continue to develop today. What began as a way to express my internal conflicts in growing up as an Asian American extended into an investigation into cultural beauty ideals. Since my childhood, I have been in a confusing state of existing between two different cultures. In America, I grew up in a predominantly white town where I never felt like I fit in. However, that does not mean I did not try. My attempts at fitting in led to such things as shaving my naturally fine-haired legs, bleaching my dark hair and tanning my fair skin. When visiting my family in Taiwan, I was constantly told how Americanized I was and clothes rarely would fit my body. I was complimented on my fair skin when I was trying desperately to be tan with either ritualistic sun-bathing or using tanning products. What I found shocking as I visited Taiwan when I was older, was that their stores were packed with skin-whitening products. I quickly began to realize the phenomenon that is the desire for lighter or darker skin and how that relates to class, privilege, and beauty ideals. More recently, I have been thinking about how to visualize these ideals to the extreme through rituals, obsession, and consumption.
Whitewashing is an old term that has developed many different definitions over the years. Today, whitewashing most strongly stands for the hiding or erasure of diverse ethnic cultures and its people due to the dominant preference for western ideals such as lighter skin. In this photo series, I pair traditional East Asian objects both with white paint to represent the globalization of whitewashing specific to East Asia, and also with tanning products to show the western desire for darker skin. Some of these objects have literally been submerged in bleach in order to depict the deterioration and physical alteration of the object. This ultimately describes the laborious application of these products and the harm they can induce to reveal the societal standards that prompt their use.
Enclosed in You
A photo series based on co-dependence found in relationships and the journey to independence through the incorporation of materials used for decorating and wrapping packages together.