First Impressions

It’s finally Weekend Wednesday and I can spill all the secrets I’ve learned! For starters, I’m sure you’re quite interested in what exactly went down on Saturday.  What did I do for 8+ hours?  How were the other contestants?  Did I see William and Kate hanging out in LA? My responses to these queries are:  stuff, aiiiight, and yes we’re bffs now.

7am waking up in the morning, gotta be fresh, gotta go to Yi Pi’s house, so she can feed me and then do my make-up and hair (two RB references in two consecutive posts is pushing it, I know).   From the two and a half hours I spent at Yi Pi’s, I can tell you that she is a make-up machine.  Apparently, she won 6th place at a televised make-up competition sponsored by Shu Uemura.   I’m glad I can help pad her résumé 

We started with your basic facial mask, followed by a routine dunk-your-face-into-ice-water to firm the skin.   Bracing!  After a series of skin creams and foundations, Yi Pi started to really go at the eyes.  For stage make-up, the eyes are actually a crucial factor and most people underestimate the amount of shadow and mascara to apply.  For the average make-up user, you would look like you’ve just woken up if you were to take stand in front of an audience. If you are like me, and barely use eye make-up at all, you would look like a zombie.  The weird thing about stage make-up is that you look like completely horrible up close, as if a toddler tried to draw your face on with only red crayon.  But from an audience stand-point, you look like a normal human being.  This phenomena is what Cher Horowitz refers to as a full on Monet, and so Yi Pi will continue to cake-up the make-up  in order for me to look like a Betty for the audience.   Meanwhile, the MySpace-esque pictures I take of myself for this blog make it look like I’m training for Cirque du Soleil.
I may have exaggerated

I still don’t really get hair process.  I know it takes forever for Yi Pi to do, but I cannot seem to figure out why.  There is so much straightening and curling and crimping and un-straightening going on and on, and I haven’t decoded the pattern to it.  By the end of the day, my hair has had enough and it rebels against everything.

Throughout the entire hair/make-up process, Yi Pi tried to calm my nerves.  She told me stories about times that she’s been nervous in front of an audience.  Did you know the Taiwanese equivalent of imagining your audience is in their underwear is to imagine that they are all 蘿蔔 (luo-buo), or Asian radish?  Or maybe this is Yi Pi’s personal antidote to combat stage fright.  Either way, I actually don’t experience stage fright too often, and I wasn’t experiencing it then.

I’m not sure what it’s called, but I get more anxious from unfamiliar situations and unknown circumstances than from standing in front of a crowd of strangers.  There is something about doing something different for the first time that makes me very uncomfortable.  When I write it down, it seems kind of….mmm, lame; of course most people feel uncomfortable trying something new.  Regardless, I think the biggest challenge for me on Saturday was to not let my discomfort affect my attitude and poise.  First impressions could mean a lot.

Even though I had to arrive at 10:30 at the Taiwan Center in Rosemead, we left Yi Pi’s place in South Pasadena at 10:28.  Eek.  It should be known that I am generally a cautious driver, especially when I have a passenger.  But Yi Pi peer-pressured me into speeding and passing cars in single lanes!!!!11!!!!!1!!!!!!1!!!! Maybe it was the rush from breaking  like,  two laws, but by the time we arrived I was not anxious at all. 

This period of non-anxiousness led me to behave like an overzealous RA in your freshman dorm on move-in day.  For the first half-hour all the contestants were sitting around tables and chairs, mostly silent.  In typical RA fashion, I almost got around to every one of the fifteen contestants and introduced myself.  During said introductions, I learned that most of the girls claimed that they were “actually not girly” and/or “not into this type of thing”.  Huh.  I may elaborate on this in a later post.

More importantly, why did I feel the need to socialize when I had pledged myself since middle school to be anti-social and awkward?  Who knows, but thankfully my super-social spree was interrupted.  I was practically on the verge of organizing a fun ice-breaking game when it came time to learn how to pose.

Mrs. Susie, the pageant’s “CEO” clapped her hands and gathered us ‘round.  The first thing she did was walk to a wall and firmly planted her back against it.  This is how we must stand at all times.  The second most important aspect of posing is to position your legs in a flattering way.  This means one leg in front of the other, but with the foot pointed out and the knee caving inwards.    No, I am not reciting the lyrics to the Time Warp.
...or am I?

After none of us had mastered the posing, the press came  in and took photographs for what seemed like a full thirty minutes, about twenty-five minutes too long if you really think about it.  The press event was followed up by a buffet lunch, where we had the opportunity to get our faces all greasy in time for the professional photo shoot at the San Gabriel Hilton.
The Hilton shoot is where we spent two hours posing and trying not to all blink at the same time.  With years of class photo-taking experience, I don’t ever recall this being that impossible.  Seriously.  This took two hours.  The next two hours were spent for individual photos, where I learned that I can’t smile.  You can tell that you can’t smile when the photographer looks at the preview display, winces, looks back up at you confused, and isn’t sure how to continue.  He’s thinking “I’m confused because you’re technically pretty…but this photo turned out so horribly, oh it’s because you make weird faces that are supposed to be smiles."

I probably should have figured this out before the photo shoot, so I could work on some alternative weird faces.  But what’s done is done, and I will just have to work with it.  PS: These photos are going into the program book, for all to see!

After deliberately avoiding the photographer who was taking photos of contestants against the fake indoor fern, I managed to make it out of there by 4:30ish.  This brings the day’s total to 9 hours.  9 hours of fun or hell, you may be wondering.  And the answer is more fun than hell.  True, I gained a few blisters, had my face melt off in the heat, and took terrible photos, but I am now a few steps closer to being pageant-prepared.  I have met my competition and asserted myself as a contender.  I am no longer anxious or nervous about this competition in the way that I was on Saturday morning.

But, as usual, once one anxiety goes away, another one moves in to take its place. Next training session is choreography!

And with that, I will leave you with this delightful video we received with the following instructions:
"Practice the Opening Dance until you are good at it. On 07/16/11, we'll only have time to transform the formation or shift the position. All you need to practice is the first 43 seconds."


  1. Maybe it's because I watched without sound, but I am oddly attracted the man in the video trying to teach you how to dance.

    Excited to hear your thoughts on the relative self-expressed "girliness" or lack there of among contestants.

    I laughed out loud (I spell it out because I mean like literally at my desk at work) like three times in this post. It brought joy to my day and annoyance to my coworkers so I hope you're happy.

  2. Photo-Smile Tip:
    Instead of trying to smile in a way that you think a smile *should* look like, try to remember what it feels like to be really happy and then let the smile come. Understandably, this method is supposed to make your smile look more natural and less weird. Also, you should always tilt your head a tiny bit. Only models can pose head-on, totally straight, because their faces are completely symmetrical or something like that (did I make that up? maybe.)
    Disclaimer: This is all stuff I heard/read somewhere. I've done my research because I have "tragic-looking-face-in-every-photo-ever" syndrome.
    More Disclaimer: All my attempts to follow the suggestions I just gave you have been futile.
    Good luck!

  3. At all seems so very overwhelming. I can't wait to see photos of you in your stage make-up.....oh I have an I idea. For your talent you should paint yourself into a cake, in front of everyone! lol

  4. 蘿蔔 !!!!!!!!!

    (will post more appropriately comment-whore worthy comment later for you :P )

  5. You are so geisha! And by that I mean you are pale as fuck in your photos! Of course I mean this as a compliment since you are in the context of a pageant.

    Also, what the heck are girl popstars singing? It sounds like they are trying to hypnotize the youth. #Bopeebopeebopeebopeeow

  6. @Lan Not to be confused with this #bopeebopeebopeebopo

  7. 1. I just imagined Yi-Pi as a luo buo and peed my pants laughing. This method is fool-proof.
    2. I want to see your leg positioning. Awk. Skype me.
    3. I, too, watched the video without sound because at the time I was grinding up sunflower roots with a mortar and pestle. And I imagined his voice to be like Taiwanese Jimmy's voice saying "pai pai shou!"
    Anyway, seems like you're doing well. Call me, beep me, if ya wanna reach me. Mabel says hey.

  8. @Rachel...omg...watch with sound...

    @yasya, I wonder if there is a support group for people with our syndrome. If not, we should blog about it.

    @Greenbird: You should be coming to my pageant!!!!!! too bad tickets are horribly priced...will let you know in a later blog update about that situation...

    @alice...awaiting further comments...

    @Mindi Taiwanese Jimmy's real name is Do-Do. Don't forget it.