I was looking for a ordinary model for my Hanbok collection- and Lexi was one who was not Korean, but had Japanese & Caucasian background together which I always thought it was fascinating. I first met her at Oral Roberts University, and I think I went up and asked her what her nationality was, or I guessed myself from her Japanese last name. Her brightness, and interesting facial features were always interesting. I even thought back then if I could capture her, but here now am, perfectly equipped to capture her. She was always friendly and called my name when we said hi. Her eyes were so big (actually from her Japanese father) and she had that big, white smile. I remember seeing her and her parents at the commencement, and even though I did not say hi, but just seeing them from distance there was full of love in that family. And that might be what I strive to capture- a multi cultural, but full of understanding and embracement, in our community.

Lexi was honest and blunt about her experience being a multi cultural race at a place called central America where it may be still difficult to be accepted. Nevertheless, she was the exact same as few years back as we graduated together in 2017. Funny, goofy, and easy going, still beautiful. I had so much fun writing down her story in the polaroids and remembering the beautiful time we had after the sunset. And she fit the garments so well- she looked so pretty and Japanese, not Korean, and pulled her charms out!

I see myself as a Soft Pink/Peach. It might be due to the change in seasons but I’ve noticed this color quite a bit recently and it feels warm and comforting. Also, it’s the color I like to surround myself with the most in my home which is probably why I see it as myself in color form.

I adore light pink carnations. They remind me of both my Obachan (Japanese Grandmother) and my Grandma (American Grandmother). My Obachan would tell me stories about why she loved those flowers and when I see them they remind me of her. My Grandma would always talk about how you could dye them different colors and how they would last a long time. They remain my favorite because they remind me of family and I think fondly of all the stories I’ve been told throughout the years.

I appreciate the respect in Japanese culture whether it’s for a household (like taking off your shoes at the door) or for elders or just thinking outside of your own needs and wants. I think especially of respecting the time of others and making certain not to be an inconvenience; taking into account those around me.

My earliest memory of discomfort around my culture was when I was told I wasn’t really Asian because I was only half so that disqualified me entirely. I’ve had people ask how I speak English so well or where am I really from. I’ve been told by strangers that my Mom isn’t really my Mom because she’s blonde with green eyes and obviously I’m not related to her. Recently it’s been about the Pandemic and COVID originating in Asia which I’ve been blamed for because I’m Asian. I’ve been told I’m a diversity hire in my employment because I was the only one not entirely White. Overall, these moments sadden me because not everyone sees the beauty of two cultures intertwined.

Internally, I am at ease with living with two cultures in me because I’ve never known anything different. It’s when others point out that I’m two different cultures that it comes to my attention because not everyone is. I’ve been asked by total strangers how it feels to be only half Japanese but I am never quite sure how to answer because it’s all I’ve ever known. 

Inner qualities I like about myself: motivation and sensitivity. I’ve been told all my life that I’m a very motivated person but it comes from a deep place inside because I am determined to keep going despite circumstances outside of my control. There’s a saying that “Failure isn’t falling down but refusing to get up” and I am determined to keep getting up. Also, sensitivity because I feel things very strongly inside and I choose to see that as an inner quality I quite like. Some people have told me that I’m too sensitive but I choose to see that positively in my life because I would rather have a soft heart for people than a hard heart.