A fun romp through news, celebrity, beauty & fashion with an AsianAmerican eye

Yu-Na Kim is Catholic

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If you watched closely during the Winter Olympics where South Korean figure skater Yu-Na Kim took gold, you’ll notice she did something familiar and peculiar before her free skate competition.

As she glided to the center of the ice to begin her routine, Yu-Na quickly made the sign of the cross, clasped her hands together and closed her eyes for a second, as if praying.

Turns out, Yu-Na is Catholic. “She converted two years ago,” my mom tells me, by telephone, the day after Yu-Na won the gold medal. “Her Catholic name is Stella.”

Stellaaaaaaa! (ala Marlon Brando in Streetcar Named Desire).

Catholics are a religious minority in South Korea and only account for some 5% of the population. The rest of the South Korean population is mostly Buddhist, Christian or Protestant.

Yu-Na’s mother, who also converted to Catholicism, couldn’t watch her daughter skate during the final. She was too nervous. Yu-Na’s mother stayed in a hallway in the ice rink with her eyes closed, praying fervently.

All that praying seems to have worked.

Figure Skating

Written by Asianista

February 27, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Gatorade Drops Tiger Woods For Good

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Tiger Woods apologizes for irresponsible and selfish behavior in Florida

Hah! Despite his lengthy, televised apology last week, Tiger Woods has lost yet another sponsor.

“Add Gatorade to the list of endorsement deals that Tiger Woods has lost,” the Associated Press reported on February 26.

It’s not that one is glad Tiger is losing sponsors, but if Tiger thought his emotionless and defiant apology on February 19 would be sufficient to begin repairing his public image, he needs to have some new people advising him.

Last November 25 — two days before the fateful car accident outside Tiger’s home — it was reported that Gatorade would be discontinuing the Tiger Focus drink. It had nothing to do with revelations of Tiger’s numerous extramarital affairs as the decision had been made months beforehand.

But Gatorade confirmed to the Associated Press on February 26 that it has ended its relationship with Tiger, except for continuing some work with his foundation.

“We no longer see a role for Tiger in our marketing efforts and have ended our relationship,” a Gatorade spokeswoman told the Associated Press. “We wish him all the best.”

Written by Asianista

February 27, 2010 at 2:55 am

Did Kim Yu-Na Have Plastic Surgery?

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Yu-Na Kim

Even before she thrilled the world and gave a gold-medal winning performance at the Winter Olympics, rumors were swirling that South Korean figure skater Kim Yu-Na might have gotten plastic surgery. The 19-year-old athlete appeared too beautiful, too perfect.

Ridiculous websites posted pictures of Yu-Na as a young teenager wearing braces and compared it to current photos of the celebrity athlete — still in her teens — speculating whether she had gone under the knife.

Has Yu-Na gotten plastic surgery? No! It’s called make-up, you morons.

Yu-Na Kim, modeling

Written by Asianista

February 26, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Miki Ando’s Egyptian Figure Skating Dress Much Better as Halloween Costume

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Figure Skating - Ladies Free Skating - Day 14

Japanese figure skater Miki Ando’s green Egyptian dress looked more like a Halloween costume than a figure skating outfit — right down to her matchy-matchy green eyeshadow.

“I LOVE that Miki Ando looks like she just got off work serving cocktails on the casino floor of the Luxor,” tweeted one viewer. Hi-larious!

Figure Skating - Ladies Free Skating - Day 14

Written by Asianista

February 26, 2010 at 4:43 am

South Korean Figure Skater, Yu-Na Kim, Wins Gold!

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AP/Amy Sancetta

She did it! South Korean figure skater Yu-Na Kim had the weight of an entire nation on her shoulders tonight as she skated in the final of the Winter Olympics.

When it came her turn to take the ice, she performed like a diamond under pressure and won the first ever figure skating medal for South Korea. And she did it with a record-breaking score of  150.06 for the free style (long) program, giving her a total score of 228.56. (This was after scoring a record-breaking 78.50 points in the short program on Tuesday night.)

Wearing a bright, royal blue halter dress trimmed with sparkling rhinestones and a glittering crystal collar, Yu-Na seemed composed as she readied herself; the only sign of nerves showing when she quickly crossed herself before skating onto the ice to begin her performance. “My heart just beat a little faster,” confessed NBC commentator, Scott Hamilton. “This has been so anticipated.”

As piano music began tinkling over the speakers, Yu-Na began to skate — twirling, jumping and gliding to Concerto in F by George Gershwin. “Oh my goodness, this is glorious,” the female NBC commentator exclaimed as Yu-Na neared the end of her routine. “It’s one of the greatest Olympic performances I have ever seen!”

Seconds after striking her final pose, Yu-Na’s face briefly crumpled as she became overwhelmed with emotion, her eyes filling with tears. She had given a flawless performance; a gold medal worthy performance. But would her main rival, the Japanese skater, Mao Asada — skating next — overtake her for the gold?

No. Though Mao landed both her Triple Axels — the first woman to land three during Olympic competition — it would not be enough to best Yu-Na. Mao made several small, but costly, errors during her routine. As Mao continued to skate — knowing that she had probably lost the gold medal — the music she had chosen, a dark, dramatic piece of classical music filled with thundering, deep notes, seemed only to dramatize the Japanese skater’s downfall.

Final results: Yu-Na won gold, and she did it by blistering the competition. Mao won silver, more than 20 points behind Yu-Na. Canadian skater, Joannie Rochette, whose mother suddenly died of a massive heart attack two days before the figure skating competition, won bronze.

On the podium, it was the South Korean flag that was raised the highest. And as the Korean national anthem played, Yu-Na mouthed the words to the song, keeping her composure. But it became too much for the 19-year-old Korean skater. Her eyes welled up and tears streamed down her face. She wept. She wept for a job well done, for making her country proud, and because it was finally all over and she had won. Gold.

AP/Mark Baker

AP/Mark Baker

Written by Asianista

February 26, 2010 at 1:19 am

Posted in Asia, News, Sports

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Yu-na Kim and Mao Asada Go Head-to-Head for Olympic Gold

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Mao Asada of Japan (left) and Yu-na Kim of S. Korea (right).

On the shoulders of two young women rest the hope and pride of two nations. Tonight, figure skaters Mao Asada of Japan and Yu-na Kim of South Korea will be battling to see which will take home the gold medal in the Winter Olympics.

For many who will be watching tonight, the sporting competition will take on historical significance. Will South Korea, once dominated by Japan, triumph over its one-time aggressor?

Japan officially occupied the Korean peninsula for more than three decades beginning in 1910 — before there was a North or South Korea. The Japanese made Koreans change their names to Japanese monikers and forbade them to speak Korean, essentially trying to wipe out the Korean culture and peoples.

At the 1936 Summer Games in Berlin, Sohn Kee-chung set a world marathon record to win the first Olympic gold medal by a Korean, but because Korea was at the time occupied by Japanese forces, Sohn had to qualify for the Japanese team, adopt a Japanese name, endure the sight of the Japanese flag being raised and hear the Japanese national anthem being played to celebrate his victory. He bowed his head in protest during the ceremony.

— Reporter Beverly Smith of The Globe and Mail

There is also some research that suggests Korea was once spelled “Corea,” but the spelling was changed by the Japanese colonial government so that Korea would follow Japan alphabetically. (The French still spell it “Corea.”)

Is it fair to thrust all this history upon Korean figure skater Yu-na Kim — in the hopes that a victory over Japanese skater Mao Asada will symbolize the Korean nation’s triumph over Japan? No, it’s not fair. But it is reality.

Written by Asianista

February 25, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Mao Asada’s Earlobes Freak Me Out

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All Japan Figure Skating Championship - Day 3

Japanese figure skater Mao Asada is a gifted athlete. On the ice, she moves beautifully.

But I’m freaked out by her earlobes. They’re so thick, so fleshy, so … chewy-looking. They’re as big as cups and look like they’d catch water if she walked outside in the rain.

You know who has those same ears? Buddha. Seriously. Every depiction of Buddha has long earlobes.

Big earlobes are actually a good thing in Asian culture, signifying luck or prosperity or a big heart — at least that’s what I picked up growing up Asian.

Mao Asada’s earlobes still freak me out, though.

Written by Asianista

February 25, 2010 at 4:08 pm

I Wish Henry Louis Gates Was My Friend

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Faces of America DVD collection. Buy it!

Lately, I’ve been inspired by a documentary called Faces of America on PBS. In the series, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (pictured below) meets with 12 famous Americans (including two prominent Asian Americans —  yay!) and tells them how they ended up in America, which country their ancestors originated from, and the experiences their immigrant ancestors had upon first arriving in the United States.

The program examines the question, “What does an ‘American’ look like?”

As an American of Asian descent, the question is near and dear to my heart. Nobody ever views me as an American when I travel around the world. Heck, sometimes even in America, they don’t view me as American. (Has anyone ever been to Sewanee, Tennessee? I have! You haven’t experienced the South until you’ve had a bunch of grizzly white men staring at you at a truck stop while you’re trying to eat your chicken-fried steak in peace.)

Sitting in a busy piazza in Florence, I once had an Italian guy try to charm me with the opener, “Are you Chinese? Japanese?” (Except he pronounced it, “Chin-eh-zeh?” “Japon-eh-zeh?”)

I wanted to say, “I’m American.” But I knew what he was getting at. Americans were white. Or black, like Michael Jordan. (It was the ’90s.) Not Asian…right?

If you watch Faces of America, you’ll realize that everybody who is American originally came from somewhere else. (Of course, we know this, but it’s always nice to be reminded — especially those angry anti-immigrant mobs.) Stephen Colbert’s great-great grandfather came from Ireland. Famed film director Mike Nichols — The Graduate, Working Girl, Closer — was born in Germany and came to America when he was seven. Dr. Mehmet Oz’s father immigrated from Turkey.

These individuals — all who happen to be white — are rarely questioned about their American-ness, as Asian-Americans are. We’re often asked, “Where are you from?” — even though our family may have been in America for generations.

Usually, the question isn’t mean-spirited, but it is inadvertently offensive. The question implies Asians look “different” and are somehow not really “American,” and in any event, are the “other.”

Premiere screening of Faces of America with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

It’s heart-breaking to watch the moment in Faces of America, when Professor Gates tells Japanese American, Kristi Yamaguchi — whose paternal grandfather immigrated to the U.S. in 1899 — that her entire family was incarcerated in Japanese internment camps in the Arizona desert during World War II. And that her maternal grandfather fought for America alongside white soldiers, even though his wife and children were imprisoned in the concentration camps in the Arizona desert.

Throughout the series, Professor Gates approaches the sensitive issues of race and nationality with compassion, light humor and a deep understanding of America as a hyper-racialized society. The message he puts across in Faces of America seems to be: we’re all from somewhere else. So what does an “American” look like? Black, white, yellow, brown and everything in between.

Go to the Faces of America website and watch Professor Gates talk with: Mario Batali, Meryl Streep, Eva Longoria, Queen Noor, Dr. Oz, Mike Nichols, Malcolm Gladwell, Louise Erdrich, Elizabeth Alexander, Yo-Yo Ma, Stephen Colbert and Kristi Yamaguchi.

Korean Skater Kim Yu-na Dazzles at Winter Olympics

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Figure skater Kim Yu-na is the biggest celebrity in South Korea. She is so hounded by reporters, photographers and the public that she trains in Toronto, Canada.

Favored to win gold at this year’s Winter Olympics, Yu-na is in first place with a record-breaking score of 78.50 after tonight’s short program. As she skated a flawless and saucy routine to a selection of James Bond tunes, the commentator noted that the rivalry with Japanese figure skater, Mao Asada, currently in second place, reflected historical hostilities between the two countries — kinda like when Mexico plays USA in a soccer match.

Yes, indeed, if Yu-na wins gold at this year’s Winter Olympics, there will be bedlam in the streets of Seoul.

Skate America
Figure Skating - Ladies Short Program - Day 12

Written by Asianista

February 24, 2010 at 2:41 am

Posted in Beauty, Celebrity, Sports

Australian Skater Cheltzie Lee is Chinese and African-American

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Figure Skating - Ladies Short Program - Day 12

When Australian figure skater Cheltzie Lee skated onto the ice this evening for the women’s short program during the Winter Olympics, I thought she had a spray-on tan. It turns out, Lee’s caramel-colored skin is natural. According to the NBC commentator, Lee’s father is Chinese (born in Bangladesh) and her mother is African-American (born in Louisiana).

Figure Skating - Ladies Short Program - Day 12

Written by Asianista

February 24, 2010 at 2:28 am