Unmasked: An Aspie Coming Out Story

Hi! I know this seems awkward, but let me introduce the REAL me. For years, I always wanted you to perceive me as “normal”. I always yearned to be seen, heard and have my blog be a space for you to validate my existence. I invited you to my world, where I openly expressed my interests in all things fashion, beauty, health, travel and pop culture, plus stuff I’ve learned in life. I looked like any other girl, I wrote like your everyday girl, yet I never shared a side of myself where I could have a space to share who I really am behind the keyboard on this blog.

Nine years ago, I started blogging in high school. I tried to be the fashion blogger you craved to see, but I was shy to share about myself. Though I had what it took to dress, my style was in its early formative years and I was trying to find what worked for me. I thought I could be like any other fashion blogger in the day, but I was not as quirky nor was I edgy enough to win fans. Given that I changed my style when I moved to LA for college, I had to put blogging on a rest as I ran out of ideas on how to present myself.

Embarrassed at my lack of expertise, I started blogging again. This time, I was ready to launch myself as *the* blogger my teen self wanted to be in NYC. Fashion, beauty and lifestyle were the things that attracted me and I felt that it was about time that I shared my interests. It was so great to meet other girls who were just as stylish and confident, but there was something that held me back: I was hiding a BIG secret.

That big secret was my Asperger’s, a condition under the autism spectrum I’ve been diagnosed with when I was a baby. From delayed speech to having to build my social skills from ground zero, it was an extremely challenging time for me throughout my childhood and adolescence. I never told anyone that I had it despite being listed in my class roster for my teachers, who saw it written in black and white under my photo every year. I desperately longed to be normal, but it was hard for me to express myself verbally. Since fashion magazines were within a shelf’s reach at the library, I had to hide myself through fashion. Looking at photos of celebrity style and editorials from Teen Vogue and Seventeen saved me. My hardcover copy of Style A to Zoe, plus reading Who What Wear and Rookie helped me feel less alone when searching for style inspiration. Playing virtual dress up on Polyvore helped me to create an alter ego and hide behind the screen. Fashion helped me find a voice so no one could talk badly about me; however, I had been bullied for dressing on-trend until high school, where I was named best dressed for the yearbook. Yet, no one knew that I had Asperger’s.

In college, it was the same story. Being around new people and a new environment was strange and depressing. Being away from the people I knew sucked. Having to make new friends from scratch scared the shit outta me. I had to see a therapist by my side to help me adjust. Although I did have an Aspie roommate in freshman year, I still felt alone in my struggle to make friends on campus as I was shy. I built a wall through a persona to mask my insecurity with who I was. I outed my condition to the student newspaper just to get myself to be more at peace with this condition, but I still was not at peace with accepting it as I thought that I’d merely outgrow it as a child. Going into my early 20s was a complicated time for me as there were a lot of things I had to outgrow, readjust and adapt. I almost considered dropping out of college because I was unhappy with myself. Thankfully, being a radio host on campus brought me to meet a new community of young creatives that inspired me to come out of my shell slowly and push me out of my comfort zone. But, I still never really told anyone face-to-face about my deep dark secret despite landing internships and networking my way through the music scene. Like Princess Fiona, I didn’t want anyone to find out that I carried a secret “curse” (a.k.a. Asperger’s).

If there was one thing that I felt improved my condition, it was a blood and allergy test done by a doctor who specialized in autism. By revealing that I had a gluten, egg and dairy allergy, I realized that I wasn’t eating right for my body as it can’t process the proteins from those allergens (this link doesn’t say eggs as an allergen for autistics FYI). By going allergen-free, it’s been greatly beneficial with less brain fog and higher levels of energy in order to concentrate at school as how I ate related to my ability to process learning new info in class. Given that I had my tests done in LA, having access to GF and DF menus at restaurants and on campus was something that helped me to have less food anxiety. When I didn’t get those things, I got terrible anxiety over the fear of passing out as I literally crashed and/or got stomach upsets and bloating after eating high doses of gluten and dairy, then blame myself for eating the “wrong foods”. On top of that, I did IV cleanses and pushed myself to go vegan and GF to improve my health. Luckily, I was able to go vegan and GF on most days. But if I had no choice and there were no substitutes, I had to counteract the allergens with a probiotic to eat beforehand so I could digest my food. Thankfully, having a diversity of alternatives in the States helped me to survive eating out. However, coming back to Asia was a hurdle as some restaurants were inflexible to accommodate my dietary needs and/or didn’t offer alternatives. In Asia, allergens aren’t seen as life or death situation whereas in America, it’s taken more seriously. It was hard for me to unwrap the LA mentality of going GF/DF as I had to disclose my food sensitivities to friends anytime we ate out. I’m thankful that I have friends who understood my dietary needs, but it brought me into a hiccup while traveling abroad as there were a few who mistook my dietary needs/restrictions as complaints. It brought me to realize that I’ve let my Asperger’s fully unfold in action as Aspies like myself like to express their particular needs and demand to have them. I had zero intention to upset anyone, yet it was a rude awakening that not everyone could tolerate me for choosing myself over pleasing them and/or understand my needs as I never shared the motives behind my dietary discomforts. The same issue popped up on dates as I purposely picked restaurants that had GF/DF options as I wanted to eat food that could accommodate my condition. Then, I asked the guys if there were any food allergens as I didn’t want them to feel pressured into eating things that they weren’t comfortable with as it happened to me before (not in date settings though). I could’ve told everyone about my Asperger’s and how that was linked to my diet, but again, I felt embarrassed.

As a result of being raised in a people-pleasing society that emphasizes likability and politeness, I fit into neither categories as I don’t aspire to be liked and I prefer to be honest about myself even if that might unintentionally upset people. Asking to be liked is an exhausting task I’m currently outgrowing. Having to bend myself backwards and sugarcoating my discomforts just to go along with everyone cost me the chance to be honest with myself to others. Being more confident with speaking up about my discomforts is something I’m currently working on as I realized that I don’t have to please people by staying silent or be afraid of being perceived as “difficult” for speaking up. Though the fear of “troubling” people is still in me, I’m currently working on unlearning this mindset as owning my truth and asserting myself isn’t a trouble to others. Having to mask my truth just to appear “normal” is costing me my peace and that’s something I feel guilty of as I have always valued authenticity and it’s something I’ve been preaching to you. It might seem “selfish”, but being honest with who I am is the most selfless thing I’ve ever done. My outlook has cost quantity “friends”, but what I receive in return are quality friends whom God greatly blesses me with. You, my dear reader, have been a blessing as you’ve seen me grow throughout the years and I am grateful for the fact that you’re here to allow me to share my struggles about Asperger’s. 😀

Sharing my story on my first podcast interview with Something Private is an opportunity that I am honored to have and appearing on a podcast is something that’s been on my bucket list! Although I did talk about Asperger’s in Elle Singapore, Galore, and Vice Asia, I have never been able to share more intimate parts of my life with you. It has truly helped me to come to terms with accepting it after years of not being at peace with my own identity as an Aspie. Being open with my truth in such a public way to you is the best thing I’ve ever done as I hope to offer you comfort, love and a reminder that you aren’t alone in your struggles as we are all humans. I hope that my choice to live and own my truth confidently will inspire you to live your life, too. ❤



P.S. I hope you enjoy the podcast as much as I do!

27 Things I learned at 27

Twenty-seven is a scary number. It’s that awkward stage when you’re not yet 30, but you’re still hanging on to the youth of your early 20s. It’s also that age when you’re trying to get yourself together. You either sink or swim.

While most of us dream of living life, there are sadly, a handful of icons who died far too young from the dark forces that consumed them whether it’s drug overdoses or freak accidents. While such unfortunate events are unintentional, The 27 Club is a one way trip without a return ticket. Joining the club is the last thing I ever want to do.

Though the siren call of living like Jim Morrison is a knock away, the flip side is that you can find stability and success. Or perhaps a renewed creative energy that leads you to produce your best work. While everyone of us finds directions either at this age, a little earlier or later, I feel that our journey is uniquely different from each other and that’s OK.

Standing in front of the crossroads isn’t easy, but being at 27, you don’t feel it until you are there. While my 28th birthday is a week away, I don’t ever want you to feel scared about the prospects of turning 27 because the fear of joining the Club is real.

Here are the top 27 things I’ve learned at 27:

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A Vibe, A Tribe: A Beginner’s Guide To Vibrators

Say hello to your (new) little friend. Small, but strong. Sweet, but sassy, this little bedroom toy is a safer alternative for skin to skin intimacy. (Except if you’re married or living with a partner) While sex ed curriculums teach us that pleasure comes from skin to skin contact, what’s nice about this toy is that it helps vulva owners feel less alone especially when we’re still in a pandemic and rolling out vaccines.

The first time I saw a vibrator, it was in Sex and the City, where Charlotte York spent a night in bed playing around with a dildo-like tool with a rabbit’s head. Being the curious 14-year-old that I was, I knew that it was awkward for teens like me to even watch SATC as it was “too mature”. Given that my mom had a DVD set of season 1 tucked neatly inside a drawer, I took it out and played it on a portable DVD player while hiding under the covers. I didn’t have a visual rekindling with vibrators until I saw a music video on the history of vibrators in 2016 and it blew my mind that there were many more kinds in existence.

While I passed around sex shops in Singapore and NYC, I never dared to step foot in one as the exteriors looked seedy. However, it wasn’t until I got some e-mail pitches about vibrators that made me realize that this little tool is not as scary or strange as it looks in TV shows. In fact, this little handy tool is safer than what you’d think given that sales have surged due to social distancing measures last year. And hey, at least you’re not getting COVID if you go near a vibrator nor will you get pregnant nor die. (*cough* Coach Carr *cough*)

Now that I can go out to a mall (with a mask on) and take a little trip to the drugstore, there was a row that made me pause. Rather than stopping by to admire the colors of every Revlon lipstick, what made me stop was seeing a shelf of vibrators. Much to my surprise, who knew that a place like Guardian can carry these little battery packs?

If you’re a seasoned vibrator user, you can skip this article altogether. But if you are someone who is new to vibrators, I’ve roped in Hong Kong-based sexologist/podcaster Sara Tang of SARA SENSE and Singapore-based Smile Makers‘s Brand Director Cécile Gasnault to spill the tea.

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How To Clean Out Your Closet For Cash (Safely)

Spark joy and sprinkle pixie dust as you are ready to manifest a whole new you. Though we have left off the chaos of January, February is where we need to realign our thinking for the better. In that case, it means letting go of questionable quarantine purchases, regrettable one-time use dresses you bought for Instagram and/or one too many Lulu Lemon leggings that you embarrassingly hoarded after you graduated college. The same goes for that one Bottega Pouch bag that you are desperate to sell after you realize that you can’t fit your iPhone inside. (#firstworldproblems!!) As you tap into your inner Marie Kondo, KonMari’ing your closet is one of the biggest decisions in life as you have to think hard about whether you will wear something again. If you’ve been struggling to make some cash, take this opportunity to get your hustle on. Even if you’re a novice to selling clothes for cash, being your own boss takes a lot of hard, but very useful lessons.

While it’s so easy to spend money, it’s hard to make your bank account prosper if you keep falling into traps and shortcuts. A seasoned seller since college, cashing in clothes for money gave me the satisfaction to able to treat myself to a decent sandwich from Mendocino Farms or a budget sushi meal at Sugarfish. From my early days of Facebook groups and eBay, I’ve graduated to The Real Real, Poshmark and Depop to make it rain. While I am only on Depop and Vestiaire Collective, I still consign to local luxury secondhand shops like Reebonz or The Fifth Collection in Singapore.

Though I am not at the level of Marie Kondo, I take every experience as a learning curve for myself. Here are my top tips and tricks to resell like a boss:

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An Honest Review of Bling Empire

Manses, abs, sneakers, Dior, jet black manes, private jets, Botox, caviar, diamonds, diamonds and TONS of diamonds! Imagine that in sunny LA and boom! As the love child between Crazy Rich Asians and The Real Housewives, Bling Empire is the real life version of the iconic Kevin Kwan novel. Except, Bling Empire centers on the lives of Asian Americans whereas the blockbuster movie and novel are about the lives of Asians in Asia. As an Asian who has lived across two continents, I feel over the moon that there is a show like this because very rarely do I see someone who looks like myself on TV – especially on a major global platform. Being the reality TV binge watcher that I am, I laugh, talk and drop one too many “OMGs” while watching the entire eight episodes.

Given that I have been in environments similar to the stars of Bling Empire, I find that the show borders between fiction and real life. Like oranges and apples, what people don’t realize is that Bling Empire is from an American perspective whereas Crazy Rich Asians is from an Asian perspective. As someone who’s lived across two different continents and cultures, here is an honest review:

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#HERSSENTIALS: The Backless Dress

Baby got back. Business at the front, but party at the back, the backless dress is the Gemini of apparel with its conservative, yet sensuous silhouette. As one of the hottest trends that’s been bubbling up in 2020, it’s bound to be one of the biggest trends this year.

Spotted on French actress Mireille Darc, the back-baring black dress was designed by Guy Laroche for Le Grand Blond avec Une Chaussure Noire. Barely skimming past the butt, the exposure of butt crack was shocking in spite of a modest exterior. Dipping low near the butt and cut across the shoulders, the spine-baring dress dared to emphasize the curves of a woman’s butt while making her waist smaller.

For someone who lives in an island where its fashion preferences leans towards conservative, it’s a struggle to contain my curves if I want to wear crop tops or body-hugging dresses as those things don’t get frowned upon on girls with A cups. Given that I have a small, yet pert butt, I have zero problems shopping for bottoms. But, having to go out without a bra is a hassle as I have to keep lifting my boobs up to make them look perkier as bigger breasts tend to drop. (Thank God for NuBra though – this keeps me feeling extra perky when I’m braless!) Apart from feeling self-conscious about going braless, bacne has been a major problem for me as the scars on my back made me feel insecure about going out in backless apparel. Since this trend meets my need for great coverage and for looking appropriate, I like that it’s made me feel secure about being able to go out with a NuBra. Perhaps what I need to work on is feeling less self-conscious to even try out this trend.

Another thing I noticed is that most fashion trends only cater to a secular and Westernized world where there’s no need to worry about covering up. Perhaps what I love most about this trend is that you can always have the option to layer up or grab a jacket when things get chilly!

If you wanna try this trend, here are my top 8 picks:

  1. Are You Am I Denz Dress – $150 USD

Founded by blogger turned designer Rumi Neely (a.k.a. Fashion Toast), her namesake brand has built a cult following among Instagram for its avant garde take on basics. As a fan of the brand, I LOVE how Neely takes her minimalistic aesthetic and throws in some sex appeal, yet makes it easy to pair with a handful of essentials in the closet. However, some of their designs are kinda extreme like this one shouldered glove dress or at risk of accidentally flashing people for anyone bigger than an A or AAA cup (*clears throat* this napkin-style top or side boob-baring tee). (Please don’t ever get me wrong, I truly admire the creativity of Ms. Neely and her team’s risk-taking execution to get wilder designs produced IRL!) Nevertheless, the whole point of buying an AYAI garment is to be photographed in it, post, then either wear it again or put it away until you swipe your credit card again for the next drop. Out of all the backless styles, the Denz is a great option if you want that sexy Kim Possible goes on a date night with Ron kinda feel. If you live in colder climes, it looks phenomenal with a leopard print coat and thigh high boots. If you happen to live in hotter climates, this cotton-blend dress will keep you cool when you style it with a denim jacket and loafers. For girls with bigger boobies, it’s best to size up to get more coverage.

2. Musier Robe Darc – €220

OMG. I don’t even know where to BEGIN! This is the exact dupe of the iconic backless dress named after the French bombshell. Though it is as equally racy as the original Guy Laroche design, Musier’s version has more coverage that stops just above the butt. Not to forget, this dress is on pre-order as it sells out really quickly. Their sizing is a little small, but the effect is chic! I highly recommend that for everyone.

3. Bec and Bridge Aubrey Midi Dress – $150 AUD

If Kate Moss’s iconic golden Marc Jacobs Met Gala dress had a baby with the vintage Dior Couture gown she wore (that eventually turned into a minidress because Courtney Love stepped on it), Bec + Bridge’s 30s inspired iteration is the next best thing you can get. Albeit more conservative than the previous two dresses, this classic golden silhouette is best worn to at weddings, birthdays or holiday parties. Keep it simple with pointy toe heels or square toe sandals.

4. Meshki Armelle Thong Dress – $103 AUD

A Gillian Anderson moment, but make it intentional with a built-in whale tail, this dress is going to cause heads to turn. Not for the shy, this dress is meant to be worn at home for socially distanced house parties or bday Zoom calls. Preferably not on family night. If you think that wearing floss strings at the side of your hips is crazy, then this little pink glittery dress defies expectations.

5. Saint Laurent Backless Dress – $1407 USD

Anthony Vaccarello never shies away from being daring. If anything, this dress is relatively tamer compared to some of the designs for the brand. (Hello, mono boob dress and column-inspired dress!) If you are the type who likes to be conservative, surprise everyone when you strut outta the house in this little number.

6. For Love and Lemons Verbena Dress – $135.26 SGD

Why, hello there backless little white dress! As the wholesome little sister to the backless LBD, this heavenly lace dress is so divine that it makes you look equally sinful. Cute for first dates and other family moments, but certainly not for Chinese New Year family gatherings! (ICYMI, white is a no-no to wear during CNY as it symbolizes death.)

7. Winona Destiny Mini Dress – $349.95 AUD

Ugh, Idk where to begin. The one shoulder to the backless detail is EVERYTHING I ever wanted in a dress. Deffo not something I’d wear in front of the parents, but at least it’s something I’ll happily pack with me on a staycation date with my BFF! If you want to be less scandalous, this dress will look great with a long-sleeved mesh nude bodysuit underneath.

8. Réalisation Par Jeet Dress – $210 USD

NGL, but I’ve been eyeing this dress for quite sometime. I think that it looks better on anyone who’s 5’5″ and above. This backless silhouette is RED HOT and I like how the fabric is ridiculously lightweight, especially for Singapore weather, where it’s hot and humid. If you are someone who can’t bare much skin due to religious reasons, it’s easy to layer it on top of a long-sleeved shirt or turtleneck!

How To Level Up Your Style

You’ve promised yourself to try something new every year. While thinking of it is great, actually doing it bears fear. You wonder if anyone will react. You wonder if you’ll regret it or even worse, wish that you could have done the risk. Some of you are born with it while some of you have to take the time to actually build it. Some of you are bound to play it safe. As told by Cady Heron, the limit does not exist.

Me being the Gemini that I am, the shapeshifter in me likes to break the boundaries of taste. It may not necessarily agree with yours, but that’s OK. I think that I’d rather take risks than to play it safe when it comes to my style. Over the years, I’ve learned that I am bound to keep what I like in the past, but merge that into my present. Or, I can change how I style things to fit my present self. Style is a gray area where you can merge your past and present selves; who you are now vs. who you want to be.

If you’re looking to level up your style and perfect it, here are the top tips I swear by:

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20 Things I learned in 2020

A year of vision and experience, there is no other year like 2020. Albeit it was shitty for most of us, it was a year of upheaval whether it was personal, mental, spiritual, etc. Not only did we physically have to contain ourselves inside four walls, we also felt the pandemic blues. Traveling, haircuts, trips to the cinema and concerts suddenly became luxuries at home to entertain ourselves when we got nothing to do besides work. Making questionable purchases on quarantine were things that could only give us relief whenever we needed a dose of laughter. Long walks to the park or around your neighbourhood were one of the only forms of relief when we’re bored of busting our butts off on YouTube workouts in our living rooms. Being unable to take a dip in the pool almost made me stir crazy. Maskne was hell for our skin. Our hair also suffered horrible grow outs as we couldn’t have access to a hairstylist for months. Some of you had no choice but to grab a buzzer, scissors or get a mullet out of boredom. Box dye was also optional, too.

While most of us have been leading busy lives, we also kept hanging on for every kind of connection on our phones whether it’s connecting with long distance old friends, cousins whom you haven’t spoken to in a year or swiping right on dating apps. Zoom’s the new hangout spot whether it’s platonically or romantically. Most of us had to sacrifice going out for our birthdays, which absolutely stank. We either had to do a birthday Zoom call or invite one or two friends over to our houses. But also, people from your past who suddenly popped out of thin air appeared on our WhatsApps, DMs or Facebooks. We were all trying our best to stay connected even though working from home zapped our energy.

Strangely, this year also brought us to start a business or do something creative that you’ve never done before. Taking risks were things we never considered in the past, yet it shaped our minds for the better. You also took a big leap for your mental health by deciding to do what you didn’t wanna do previously: get help. Sure, it was intimidating because some of you find it embarrassing to admit your struggles to your closest friends because you want them to think that you’re OK when your world fell apart. What you also learned was that it was OK to not be OK.

Although most of us spent our time at home, some of you went out to the streets to protest against racism at BLM protests from Los Angeles, Sydney and the UK. Being an advocate is sexy and I love that. While social justice is a cause I support, I also feel that some of you (myself included) have also decided to dedicate our time with helping out those who don’t have access to resources within our own back yard. Apart from protests and volunteering for charity, some of you have prayed for your loved ones and strangers who’ve suffered from COVID.

No matter how much you wanted to hate 2020, it was THE year that told us to level up inside out. We were not prepared to be stuck inside our homes or deal with a pandemic, but the one thing that we were being called to do was to look IN and see what WE could change about ourselves. (Myself included.)

Here are the top 20 things I learned in 2020:

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Cute Sustainable Gifts For Xmas

Staying in is the new going out and all the small things are suddenly becoming the new essentials. From toilet paper to face masks, it seems that big bags aren’t entirely necessary unless it’s for the most important grocery runs.

Thankfully, some of us are living in countries where we are lucky to go out. But for the rest of us, it’s unfortunate how y’all have to go through another series of lockdowns. Not letting Miss Rona steal our shine this December, there’s always a way how we can treat ourselves and our loved ones for the holidays. With practicality and sustainability being the new chic, I found some cute gifts that your friends or family will appreciate!

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How To Fix Your Post-Black Friday Mistakes: 10 Savvy Tips That Will Change Your Life Forever

Black Friday shopping is Spring Break for your wallet. Overflowing like bubbles on a glass of beer, discounts are cherry on top. Sweet, yet tempting, a sale is the apple of the Original Sin, leaving you hungry for more. Although it’s great to treat yourself, I hate to admit that I’ve made a lot of mistakes with caving into my temptations.

Although I am no Econ major, it doesn’t need to require a degree to figure out where you and I are spending our money. As much as we want to have picture perfect Insta lives with equally photogenic clothes that we wear once every OOTD, greed makes us feel guilty and cynical for not feeling like we have enough. I already have enough, but I am ashamed to admit that I have days when I don’t feel like I have “enough” just because I want to score more likes on my feed, which is the most selfish desire that I need to let go. However, I love to go on sales because I use Black Friday as an excuse to pig out.

Even though capitalism is the flesh and blood of the majority of the world’s economy, we, too, also sustain on it for our incomes and thrive on it to support the economy. Now that most of us can’t travel thanks to Miss Rona, it’s inevitable that we have to spend our hard earned cash on things. While it’s so easy to treat this as an all or nothing issue, let’s redirect our energy on building a healthier relationship with your bank account by trying these post-Black Friday tips!

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