the headliner: harper yi

9:51am

“The Headliner” is a section I started, in order to spread the message of and promote the awesome things my friends are doing. I think it’s crucial for girls to support each other, and I can personally say I wouldn’t have gotten as far as I have into business school without an awesome group of friends to collaborate and work with. Lauren Engel, a fashion photographer who I’ve previously interviewed, is among them.

And so, on to the next installment of this riveting series.

Harper Yi is the adorable mastermind behind the blog “Harper Honey“, a blog of eclectic posts relating to fashion, college essay writing, feminism, musical theater, and more. She wrote an amazing post on catcalling that I mentioned in a prior post, and was gracious enough to let me interview her. As for an introduction, her twitter bio kind of says it all: “You don’t meet a girl like that every dynasty. Disney + Intersectionality + Media. W&M 2015. Blogger, dork, & magical adventure unicorn”. And of course, when you have the chance to ask a magical adventure unicorn for advice, you take it.

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(Photo taken from Harper’s “About” page)

I know you love lipstick almost as much as I do. What started that?

When I was a little girl, I hated lipstick.  Since my parents were pretty much the first in their friend group to get married and have kids, my sister and I were always up for grabs as flower girls. I had to wear lipstick for all the weddings, and it was this thick, sticky goop I had to wear — a symbol of stuff I had to that I didn’t like or want or understand. I’d always been forced to wear these gross, shimmery, cranberry-plum colors with terrible texture (admittedly, it was the 90s) so when I first got my hands on a really cute pink, it was pretty revolutionary for me.

I also have really big lips for an Asian girl too, and I used to get called “carpface” a lot by kids in school– I wouldn’t say it was emotionally scarring, but it definitely made me consider not drawing more attention to my lips. In high school, I was of the school of thought that some people would love me and some people would hate me; so it was best to try to be the best version of myself, on my terms. And the more I wore lipstick and showed off my lips, the more compliments I received, and the more confident I felt about them.

When was the first time you experienced gender inequality?

I don’t know if there was a time when I didn’t experience gender inequality– I just didn’t know that that was what was happening. I knew that some kids were favored over others, but it took a long time before I realized it was because some kids were boy and some kids were girls. When I was little, gender was just an arbitrary club you belonged to– I hadn’t put together all the benefits and disadvantages.

Can you describe feminism?

Feminism is the dissection and dismantling of harmful norms that are perpetuated by the power structures in our society. Third wave, or intersectional feminism, is the current school of thought. This feminism runs across multiple fault lines of oppression in society, including race, class, gender, sexuality, and color, and applies the principles established from prior waves of feminism, but refuses to say “you’re not our problem” or “we’ll come back for you later.”

That means feminism now seeks to break down any and all oppression that blocks anyone from pursuing opportunity and a life of choice. Feminism means that girls will not be discouraged from science and boys will not be shamed for being emotional. It means we’ll use critique and analysis to increase our consciousness of the world we live in, and then dismantle and fix the things that are messed up about it.

So what are some of your favorite websites? 

I really like The Atlantic, ColorLines, Black Girl Dangerous for social issues, AV Club for media analysis, and Levo League, Inc., Fast Company, and Lifehacker for career-related content.

How do you find time for your personal life, between school, blogging, extracurriculars, and internships?

You have to remember that not giving yourself time to be yourself is a dangerous habit. At the end of your life, the goal is not to be happy, but to be fulfilled, and you can’t be fulfilled without allowing yourself as a person to develop and really exist in moments. Sometimes that means putting off work one night to deal with an emotionally difficult situation, and others it means saying no to someone so you can have time to do your nails and watch your favorite movie alone.

So what’s your favorite way to relax?

I have a slightly concerning media addiction, so Netflix and Hulu are my go-tos. I’m a very active media consumer, so it takes most of my attention to analyze a new story, and that really helps me wind down– it’s like doing a puzzle.

What advice would you give to a room of 1000 people if you could?

Tell people you love them or appreciate them whenever you can. There is a lot of happiness lost in words unspoken. There is a lot of suffering that we don’t know is happening behind the scenes. Be good to one another.

Thanks for reading!

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