Chapter 7: What She Wears

Reinvent new combinations of what you already own. Improvise. Become more creative. Not because you have to, but because you want to. Evolution is the secret for the next step

Karl Lagerfeld


I agree that there’s some truth to the old saying, “Clothes make the man.” Or, should it be changed to “The man makes the clothes”? I prefer to go with the latter, as it is often the person themselves that, depending on a specific role, attributes a certain identity to a particular outfit or article of clothing. What one person may view as the perfect outfit for church service, another person might see that same outfit as one fit for a more professional setting. A person’s sense of style and the way that they dress can say a lot about their personal identity and the different roles they play in everyday life.

Casual/Laid-Back

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I’ve always been a very relaxed, go-with-the-flow kind of person, and so has my personal sense of style. I’m my most comfortable when I can just throw on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt. This top is what I’d consider to be on the classier casual side of things. I’d usually wear something like this when I’m at home visiting family, or when I’m out and about on the town with some friends.

Health Nut

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I also see myself as a foodie and a health nut. Traveling along the same lines as the casual and laid-back style, this is an outfit I’d wear if I wanted to go out for a run, or if I wanted to squeeze in some strength-training at the gym.

Christian

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Of all the dresses that I own, this one is probably my favorite. I’ve worn it everywhere: to church, on a date, you name it! What I really like about it is the fact that I can dress this outfit up with some heels, or keep things more low-key with a pair of gladiator sandals.

Wal-Mart Employee

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This one’s for you, Melodee.

Welcome to Walmart, where the schedule’s made up, and the breaks don’t matter.

Professional

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This is another one of my favorite dresses, mostly because of the black and beige color combination. All you need is the black heels, and you’ve basically won all of corporate America.

 

Chapter 6: Hair-Raising Adventures

Relaxing your hair is like being in prison. You’re caged in. Your hair rules you. You didn’t go running with Curt today because you don’t want to sweat out this straightness. You’re always battling to make your hair do what it wasn’t meant to do

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah


In my quest for hairstyles that I thought were sexy, powerful, intelligent, awkward, rebellious and nurturing, I also wanted to include both male and female hairstyles that fit each description.

Sexy Hair

Kristen Stewart

Kristen Stewart Sexy Hair

Kristen Stewart

She has the same facial expression in literally every one of her movies, but she never fails to have some of the most kick-ass hairstyles I’ve ever seen. I have to say that her sexiest hairstyle was the one she had when she played Joan Jett in the film, The Runaways (Dakota Fanning was a pretty close second).

Now, if we can just work on that face of hers…

Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp Sexy Hair

Well, Johnny Depp’s hair, circa 1985. His hair has always had – and always will have – that I’m-sexy-and-I-know-it vibe going on.

Powerful Hair

The interesting thing about power is that it can be both objective and subjective, often at the same time. Someone or something has power because of their position and place in the world, and the amount of power that we attribute to it. When considering what makes for a powerful hairstyle, I like to think of both the influence a person has within their specific field, and the impact they ultimately make on the world around them.

Jacqueline Kennedy

Jackie Kennedy Powerful Hair

She was such a regal woman, wasn’t she? Jackie Kennedy was undoubtedly one of the classiest women in politics during the 1960’s. Part educated businesswoman, part devoted soccer mom, this hairstyle has a seemingly unreachable aura of sophistication, grace and royalty.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama Powerful Hair

In my honest opinion, while Barack Obama is the most powerful individual in the United States, I wouldn’t say that he’s the most influential, per se. We give him all of the power simply because he’s the President of the United States, but not as a result of any of his personal beliefs or values. For example, the late social and spiritual leader, Mahatma Gandhi (who had absolutely no hair at all), had more influence in the world because of his ground-breaking and awe-inspiring concepts and ideas, although he had less power, in general.

Intelligent Hair

Emma Watson

Emma Watson Intelligent Hair

Yes, she will forever and always be Hermione Granger in the hearts of millions of people from my generation. However, her intelligence shouldn’t be tied to any character she’s played in the past or will play in the future. Not to compare apples to oranges, but Emma Watson is a lot like Jackie Kennedy in her class and sophistication. She’s beauty and brains.

A few days ago, one of my friends shared an article on Facebook covering the topic of femininity and the proverbial desire to live up to the so-called “Proverbs 31 woman” standard. It reminded me of a quote from Emma Watson during an interview she did with Elle magazine in regards to this shifting feminine ideal:

“If you want to run for Prime Minister, you can. If you don’t, that’s wonderful, too. Shave your armpits, don’t shave them, wear flats one day, heels the next. These things are so irrelevant and surface to what it is all really about, and I wish people wouldn’t get caught up in that. We want to empower women to do exactly what they want, to be true to themselves, to have the opportunities to develop.”

Well said, Emma girl. Well said.

Finally, someone who gets it, someone who isn’t afraid to speak up and speak out against the prevailing “traditional” gender roles and expectations we have even today in our society.

Case in point, intelligence is beauty, and beauty is intelligence.

Jim Carrey

Jim Carrey Intelligent Hair

Riddle me this: why is it that every time I tried to come up with an example of an intelligent hairstyle for men, I always gravitated toward comedians? Then again, I guess one does have to have a brain in their head to be that funny, especially Jim Carrey. I think that Jim Carrey is different from a lot of today’s comedians in that he’s brilliantly funny and witty. He knows how to crack a joke, make you laugh and make you reconsider all of your life choices all at the same time.

I have to admit, I actually had a hard time choosing between Jim Carrey and Matthew Gray Gubler, who plays Dr. Spencer Reid on my favorite television show, Criminal Minds. It’s probably because they both have that scholarly, yet informal look about them.

Awkward Hair

Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to welcome you to The 80’s, where every Members Only jacket came with a complementary bottle of Aquanet.

Awkward Hair 1

Looks like somebody got rickrolled at the hair salon.

Awkward Hair 2

I just … I can’t.

Rebellious Hair

Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato Rebellious Hair

I love Demi Lovato. She’s probably the only former Disney starlet whose music I actually enjoy, and who hasn’t gone completely off the deep end (*cough* Miley Cyrus *cough*). What I like about Demi Lovato is the fact that she’s not afraid to speak her mind and be herself. She’s not afraid to own up to her struggles and mistakes, and admit that she is, in fact, an imperfect human being and not some mythical, immortal entity.

Bill and Tom Kaulitz

Bill Kaulitz Rebellious Hair 1

Bill Kaulitz Rebellious Hair 2

Tom Kaulitz Rebellious Hair 1

Tom Kaulitz Rebellious Hair 2

Seeing as the Kaulitz brothers are twins, and they’ve had some pretty wild hairstyles over the years, I thought I’d include both of them here. If you’re not the hippest person in the room, and you don’t know who these two are, they are two of the four members that make up the alternative rock band, Tokio Hotel, formed in Magdeburg, Germany, in 2001.

A fan since 2008, I’ve been a witness to Bill’s and Tom’s hair transformations. At one point, I’m pretty sure Bill got a hold of that bottle of Aquanet I mentioned earlier. From black, spiked hair and long, blond dreadlocks, to the sleeker platinum coif and dark, classier dreads that they’ve got going on today, the Kaulitz brothers will always be the targets of hair envy.

I don’t care what anyone says. I want my future dreadlocks to look exactly like Tom’s.

Nurturing Hair

Ina Garten

Ina Garten Nurturing Hair

World-renowned cookbook author, Ina Garten – also known as the Barefoot Contessa – is the very definition of nurturing. For example, one of her cookbooks, Cooking for Jeffrey, details her many adventures in the kitchen while in search for the perfect recipes for her husband, and the rest of her family and friends. She’s basically everybody’s mother.

Sean Astin

Sean Astin Nurturing Hair

I’m not sure if it’s his role as Samwise “Sam” Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, or the baby face. I mean, just look at him. I think Sean Astin’s hair and lumberjack beard give him a more relaxed, down-to-Earth appearance.

 

 

Chapter 5: Oh, the Places You’ll Go

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes

Marcel Proust


A Comfortable and Welcoming Place

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Oh, Recycled Books… you slay me. Well-played.

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The first time I ever visited the Square was during the start of my freshman year at UNT. A few of my friends and I had met down in the lobby of our dorm room to walk over to Jupiter House to meet with our Bible study group one night. The Square is, without a doubt, my favorite hangout spot in Denton. Whether I’m meeting someone for coffee or working on homework at Jupiter House, or simply browsing around Recycled Books, I find the Square to be a very informal, comfortable and welcoming place to be.

A Powerful Place

Cross Timbers Community Church

I haven’t been to church in almost three years. As a Christian, I do feel a little guilty for admitting that, but after moving to Denton, I never really got plugged back into any church, let alone another Catholic church. In fact, at the time, I didn’t think I even wanted to exclusively attend Catholic church anymore, but that’s a different story for a different day. Anyway, it was only a couple of weeks ago that I started attending Cross Timbers Community Church, a nondenominational place of worship that welcomes people from all walks of life. I don’t know why I never thought of going here before, since it’s just within walking distance from where I live. Nonetheless, I’ve only attended one service, and I love it already. It’s not at all structured like a church in the traditional sense. I mean, I showed up in a dress and sandals, and I was clearly overdressed for the occasion. There’s no rigidity or formality. There’s just us, a group of imperfect people gathered together in song and praise, and that’s it.

An Intimidating Place

Louvre Pyramid

The most intimidating place that I’ve ever been to would have to be the Louvre Museum in Paris, France (as mentioned in a previous post). I kid you not, I just about lost my mind at the size of some of the paintings I saw. As if the actual piece itself wasn’t already glorious enough…

Although it was rather intimidating at first, it was also the perfect source of inspiration for my own artwork. Later that day, I immediately broke out my drawing pad to sketch out various parts of the one-bedroom apartment we were staying in. It’s been five years since that life-changing European adventure, and a copy of that very same drawing now hangs in a frame in my grandparents’ kitchen.

Chapter 4: Personal Artifacts

She never had much in this life, but with the simplest things, she made her corner of the world as beautiful as any king’s palace. We may lack riches, but the greatest fortune is what lies in our hearts

Dean Koontz, Odd Thomas


While the different rooms in a person’s home can say a lot about who they are, the personal artifacts found within those rooms can also be useful nonverbal descriptors of that person. For example, the artifacts may make that person feel comfortable in their own environment, powerful or connected to the world around them.

A Source of Comfort

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On my desk in my room sits a small flip book containing Bible verses for every day of the year. At times, I forget it’s even there, since it’s tucked so inconspicuously in the corner behind the door, but I try to read at least one verse every day. Sometimes, life can get to be a little too much for me to handle, especially now, as I’m currently in the throes of preparing for major surgery in May, finishing up group projects and studying for final exams (all while trying to keep at least one ounce of sanity). Reading the verses in this flip book always serves as the perfect reminder to slow down and remember what really matters.

A Source of Power

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I’ve had Crohn’s disease since I was 10 years old, so needless to say, I’ve run the gamut when it comes to pharmaceuticals and conventional medicine. Without going into too much detail, I stopped taking my medication cold turkey (probably not the wisest decision, but whatever) and decided to do something different instead. That was two years ago, and this book has been a lifesaver for me ever since. Not only is it a wonderful source of information about the science behind the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and further research into inflammatory bowel diseases, but it’s also a cookbook itself. I see this book as a source of power, the power to take my health into my own hands and not let some doctor make the final decisions concerning my body.

A Source of Connection

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Throughout the semester, I love to spend a few weekends here and there volunteering with Keep Denton Beautiful, which describes itself as an organization that aims “to engage our community in creating a clean and beautiful Denton” through garden workdays, litter clean-ups around the city, and hosting the Redbud Festival every year. I really enjoy volunteering with them because I believe in what they’re doing as an organization (check them out!). This was the shirt that the volunteers had to wear at this year’s Redbud Festival. I think being plugged into an organization of any kind is one of the best ways to develop long-lasting friendships, relationships and other connections.

Chapter 3: Color Your World

“Soon, it got dusk, a grapy dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon fields; the sun the color of pressed grapes, slashed with burgundy red, the fields the color of love and Spanish mysteries.”

Jack Kerouac, On the Road


Near the end of my senior year of high school, as a graduation gift from my grandparents, I had the incredible opportunity to visit Paris, France, during the week of spring break. The entire week, I – along with my grandparents – piddled around the city, trying our very best to not look like a group of tourists, sampling authentic European cuisine, attempting to speak French with the locals (and successfully, scaring a few of them away in the process), and making our rounds to every art museum we could find.

Perhaps, you’ve already heard of the Louvre Museum (the Mona Lisa, anyone?) – situated along the Right Bank of the Seine River – undoubtedly the most magnificent art museum I’ve ever set foot in. Aside from the more well-known paintings and other works of art we saw there, the museum also contained smaller, more obscure paintings that allowed you to get a little more up close and personal with each of them (of course, with a fancy rope putting a safe distance between you and the painting). Even at such a small size, I was astounded by the artist’s use of color. It was not necessarily the brightness of the colors that intrigued me; rather, it was the overall quality and skill with which they were rendered.

It’s an interesting thing, the power of color, especially when it’s used in a unique way in home décor. I find it amazing how a particular color or color scheme can set the mood of an entire room. Just as the décor itself can give character to a living room, so can color give character to a bedroom, giving it an appearance of being a sexy room, a calm room or an energized room.

The Sexy Bedroom

Sexy Bedroom

And the Award for Sexiest Bedroom in All the Land goes to…

The earth tones. The low, warm lighting. The atmosphere. And my Lord in heaven above, that chandelier!

Need I say more?

I know exactly how I’ll be decorating my bedroom in my future home.

The Calm Bedroom

Calm Bedroom

I based my design for a calm bedroom on the more laid-back and relaxed Bohemian influence and style. With lots of space, and softer, cooler lighting and colors, my idea for a calm bedroom is reminiscent of a yoga studio – also known as an ashram in India – that offers a quiet place for physical, mental, emotional and spiritual renewal. This is easily my favorite of the bedroom designs that I stumbled upon. In fact, I do believe we officially have a contender for the title of Sexiest Bedroom in All the Land.

The Energized Bedroom

Energized Room

The perfect room for a nature-loving flower child.

Not like me though.

Okay, definitely like me.

In my opinion, an energized room is one in which there is a lot of flowers and greenery around, with sunlight streaming in through floor-length windows. Think of a sun room, for example. This bedroom design would ideally have the walls painted either light yellow, light green or light blue, in combination with darkly stained wood accents and furniture.

Oddly enough, this bedroom design also has a Bohemian influence. I actually find myself feeling both calmed and energized by similar styles of home décor. Is that weird? One unique aspect of this bedroom would be the one-with-nature kind of atmosphere you’d get from the lack of walls. If you can imagine – and be comfortable with – vines and tree branches invading your space, and squirrels and various kinds of birds being your pets of choice, then this is perfect.

Beware the occasional bear or two though. They’re not the best when it comes to having a good bedside manner (or, any manners, really).

 

 

Chapter 2: Where You Go to Rest Your Bones

At the end of the day, it isn’t where I came from. Maybe home is somewhere I’m going and never have been before

Warsan Shire


While the actions, gestures and other physical characteristics of a person are important in the world of nonverbal communication, the home, and the ways in which it is laid out and decorated, can also be a meaningful nonverbal indicator. A person’s home can say a lot about them: their hobbies and interests, whether they live alone or with family, and if they own any pets. The different rooms within the home – more specifically, the décor of the room – can express a particular “character”, such as what we consider to be a proper room, a familiar room or a happy room.

The Proper Living Room

The Cobbles Tea Room

The Cobbles Interior

The Cobbles Food

My idea of a proper living room would be one in which there is an air of sophistication similar to a small tea room in an old English manor. For me, a proper living room would be beautifully decorated, yet still have a more casual and informal atmosphere about it. This is The Cobbles Tea Room in Rye, East Sussex, England, and it’s basically the cutest thing ever. In my opinion, this is the perfect example of proper living room décor.

The Familiar Living Room

Grandma's Living Room

When I think of a room that’s familiar to me, I always remember my grandma’s kitchen. I imagine this is what a familiar living room would look like if you combined the general layout and color scheme of her existing living room and the log cabin-style wooden interior of her kitchen.

My grandparents live in Mount Vernon, a small town in East Texas, and their house is a much older home built primarily out of darkly stained wood on the interior. Out of all the rooms in the house, I love the kitchen the most, as it’s been the center of many a holiday celebration over the years. The entire family – my grandparents, my aunt and uncle, my three cousins, my dad and stepmom, and me – usually gather around the table in the dining area to enjoy all the turkey, broccoli rice casserole (courtesy of my aunt), cornbread and homemade chocolate pie we can eat during Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s especially fun watching my dad and the rest of the family duke it out over said chocolate pie.

The Happy Living Room

Happy Living Room

As for my idea of a happy living room, I’d have to say a room decorated in the same manner as an art studio would be the way to go. Like this room, it would be mostly off-white with splashes of color here and there on the furniture. The walls would also be painted a fun color, like a pale yellow or light blue.

 

Chapter 1: An Intercultural Perspective

He who is different from me does not impoverish me – he enriches me. Our unity is constituted in something higher than ourselves – in Man … For no man seeks to hear his own echo, or to find his reflection in the glass

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


 

Yuting Luo

To begin, I’d like to introduce you to my beautiful friend, Yuting. She and her family are originally from China, and they moved here to the United States when her mom found a new job. Although Yuting and her family now live in America, they do still follow more traditional Chinese customs and practices.

One of the most interesting artifacts from the Chinese culture that she showed me was a photo of the Lion Dance, which is a traditional practice during the Chinese New Year that occurs every year in February. The website, Nations Online, describes the Lion Dance as a common cultural practice that’s based on the ancient Chinese legend of Nian, a gruesome, frightening creature who often delighted in torturing the people of China:

“According to a Chinese legend, a terrible monster (pictured sometimes with features of a lion, unicorn and ox), a really giant, monstrous creature by the name of ‘Nian’, lived in the mountains and would come down at the end of the year, and destroy the fields, crops and animals, and to terrorize people or even kill them all.

The terrified people called the beast Nian (‘nian’ actually is the Chinese word for ‘year’). But by and by, the villagers discovered that the monster was frightened by loud noises, bright lights and the color red.

To prevent the Nian from [wreaking havoc on] the land, the villagers made a fearful model of the animal out of bamboo, paper and cloths; [inside were] two fearless men to animate the image. On New Year’s Eve, they waited for the monster. When it was time, they sent in their own four-legged beast and, accompanied by the furious beating of drums, cymbals and gongs, and the heavy use of firecrackers, they were able to chase the Nian away. For this reason, the Nian dance is performed annually on Chinese New Year’s Eve … thought to be so helpful or auspicious, or both, it is performed on a lot more occasions.”

Lion Dance Southern Lions

Admittedly, whenever I think of the Lion Dance, I can’t help but remember that one scene in Mulan where (spoiler alert!) near the end of the film, Mulan is being chased around the Imperial City by Shan Yu, the evil leader of the Huns. Mulan – along with Shang and his men, and aided by a small, red dragon named Mushu and Cri-Kee, her good luck charm – aims to bypass the Huns and gain entrance into the Emperor’s Palace to protect the emperor and his people. They do this by disguising themselves as part of the Chinese New Year celebration under the costume traditionally used in the Lion Dance.

I do sincerely apologize if it appears as if I’ve gone off on a tangent, but that’s the best and, for this generation, the most relevant and relatable example of the Lion Dance I could come up with.

The Lion Dance is usually very lively in nature, and even the traditional costume is bright, colorful and flowing to match the dance itself. My first impression surrounding this artifact was that the Chinese people really know how to party hard.

I only kid, of course.

In fact, when I asked Yuting whether the Chinese were more traditional with their celebrations, she replied that, yes, they do prefer a more classic and time-honored manner of celebrating any holiday, from the city-wide Chinese New Year celebration to smaller, more private occasions and family gatherings. The Chinese people pay attention to and learn from their cultural history, so that it can be kept alive with both present and future generations. She also mentioned that the Chinese New Year is the most important occasion that the Chinese people celebrate and that, in America, this occasion is not as much a cause for celebration as it is in China.

Another impression I got from this dance was that the people of China also recognize the importance of maintaining a strong sense of community, as well as a well-developed cultural identity. This belief could very well be perpetuated by a culture based primarily on the idea of collectivism, in which there is more concern for the people around you, and less attention paid to the individual. In contrast to the collectivist culture in China, the United States maintains a more individualistic point of view, which may explain why Chinese New Year is not as big of a deal here as it is there.