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The Fake & Basic Manifesto

On Adulting and Illness

Red Flowers on Yellow Background // Mimi Chenyao // Asian Barbie

It’s been interesting being sick without anybody else around. [1]

When I was little and I came down with something, my mom was always there with medicine, good food, and strict rules about what I was and wasn’t allowed to do while bedridden (“Mimi! What do you think you’re doing writing that blog post? Go back to sleep!”). Even in college, resources were nearby — all I had to do was book an appointment with the Counseling and Wellness Center and trudge my way down there to find out a) exactly what was wrong with me, and b) how to stop being sick.


I Wore a Crop Top Yesterday, so my Body Decided to Punish Me by Getting Sick

Sick Day // Mimi Chenyao // Asian Barbie

Oh, California winter, how I detest thine trickery.

It was unnaturally warm out yesterday, and by unnaturally, I mean that I put on my usual sweater-and-UGGs combo and started sweating like a pig by midday, so I thought, “Oh! Here’s that temperate California climate that everyone’s been talking about!” and excitedly changed into the only crop top I’d brought with me.

I thought it would be fine. I didn’t feel cold even once. It was a blessing from the weather gods!


Four Seasons at Once in Berkeley

Berkeley, California Weather // Mimi Chenyao // Asian Barbie

Berkeley, California Weather // Mimi Chenyao // Asian Barbie

Berkeley, California Weather // Mimi Chenyao // Asian Barbie

Berkeley, California Weather // Mimi Chenyao // Asian Barbie

One weird thing I’ve noticed about the Bay Area is that you can see signs of all four seasons at the same time.

Within thirty seconds, you can come across a red leaves on the ground, a rosebush in full bloom, a completely barren tree, and a landscape full of green walking down the street. These photos were all taken on the same outing. 


My Favorite Books and Series, Part 1

Mimi's Favorite Books and Series // Mimi Chenyao // Asian Barbie

So many talented, knowledgeable, and powerful people have written down the exact secrets of their accomplishments. The best part? Anybody can have this information, as long as they take the time to really grasp it.

Think about that for a moment. You can, without spending more than $20, obtain the same knowledge that would normally take a person years of hard work to procure. [1]

Isn’t that mind-blowing?

I’ve been fortunate to learn from people who are much wiser and more experienced than I am, without ever having to leave the comfort of my room. This year, I’ve taken advantage of that fact more than ever, and have been reading about five articles and two books a week. The result has been exponential changes in the way I think, approach situations, and solve problems.

My life has gotten so much better since I started doing this. I’m never lonely or bored, and I’m a lot more pleasant to be around in general. It’s incredible.

I don’t believe in keeping knowledge and wisdom to myself — the point of ideas is to share them! Here are some books and series that I have considered fundamental in changing my thinking patterns and contributing to my personal development. [2]


Streaks, Pure Barre, and Hidden Benefits of Writing: Weekly Progress Report 12/17-12/24

San Francisco Trolley// Mimi Chenyao // Asian Barbie

I’ve now been in San Francisco for exactly a week.

Every time I move to a new place or change up my life in a drastic way, a part of me regrets not publicly discussing it more. I want to be as open and honest as I can about what’s going through my mind, because life is exciting, and too many people go through it without talking and/or thinking about what they’re doing and where they’re going next. I also know myself pretty well and I know I’ll be nostalgic AF and kicking myself for not documenting stuff more.

Thus, every Sunday I’m going to do a weekly progress report on everything that has generally been happening in my life, and the goals I’d like to accomplish next week. I’m going to test this system out while I’m in the Bay Area, and if it works out well enough (i.e., I still feel like writing these by the time I go back to school), I’ll keep it up.

So, without further ado …


End Game

End Game // Taylor Swift Reputation Lookbook // Mimi Chenyao // Asian Barbie

End Game // Taylor Swift Reputation Lookbook // Mimi Chenyao // Asian Barbie

Romper | Molly and Zoey

As far as tracks on Reputation go, “End Game” is a prime example of “Taylor Swift trying too hard to be in-your-face.”

The song has its moments — I’ve sung along to “End Game” more times than I’d like to admit. It’s fun to play when you’re driving down a scenic road somewhere and in the mood to scream “OOH YOU AND ME WE GOT BIG REPUTATIONS, AHHHH” out the window of the car.

But, for the most part, “End Game” is a song that I find both confusing and exhausting to listen to. The entire thing just feels so forced. Forced attitude. Forced feelings. Forced vocals, even. Taylor x Future x Ed Sheeran is a three-way that could have worked but didn’t. I don’t listen to much of Future or Ed Sheeran’s music, yet I get the distinct sense that Future had to tone himself down for this collaboration while Taylor and Ed tried way too hard. It’s cringey. [1]


Stop Waiting for Permission to be Free

Ringling Museum // White Abercrombie Lace Dress // Mimi Chenyao // Asian Barbie

You know those things that you’ve always wanted to do, but always have a good reason for not doing?

Do them. Stop waiting for external permission, because you’re never going to get it. You have to give it to yourself.

Life is inherently unstructured. We can get up at whatever time we feel like it, do whatever we please during the day, live anyplace we’d like, and hang out with any person we want. [1] Sadly, many people don’t realize this because there are made-up systems all over the place. It’s easy to live the existence that somebody else has planned out for you, which generally goes “go to school, get a job, do that job for x amount of time, and die.” Sounds nihilistic, but that was the version of life that was explained to me as a kid. Chances are you received a similar explanation.

The fact that life is unstructured actually took me a while to figure out, and blew my mind when I realized its implications.

Everything is up to me. I’m the one who gets to say yes or no, not my parents or my significant other or my friends or society. I get to pick the skills I possess, the things I do to make a living, the people I surround myself with.

I have the power to get whatever I want and live in the exact circumstances I choose to live in.  

So do you.


It’s OK to be Slow Sometimes

It's OK to be Slow Sometimes // A Lesson on Building New Skillsets // Mimi Chenyao // Asian Barbie

When I first started learning to program, one thing irked me above all: the amount of goddamn time it seemed to take me to get the smallest thing to work.

I dreaded each hands-on assignment at first — not because I didn’t enjoy coding, but because I knew that it would take me twice as long as I’d wanted, and that I’d spend at least 60% of the time looking at a screen full of errors.

In cases like these, it’s easy to get discouraged or think that you’re not smart enough for whatever task you set out to accomplish. Oftentimes, though, it isn’t a lack of intelligence but rather a lack of foundational knowledge that causes you to seem “slower” than others at picking up a new concept or skill.


A Non-Girl in a Dress: The Real Reason I Started Fake & Basic

Pink and Blue Summer Dress // Mimi Chenyao // Asian Barbie

Dress from Molly and Zoey

(Content warning: This post discusses gender and gender dysphoria at length. I still use she/her pronouns!)

People often ask me why I started my blog, or why it’s called Fake & Basic.

The name is Out There on purpose. 😛

The casual answer is that I started it as a place to document my outfits, because I like them and I have many of them. The in-depth reason is more complicated.

I was assigned female at birth, but from the moment I could grasp the concept of gender and that there were supposed to be two of them, I knew that I wasn’t a girl. There was an essence of femininity that I lacked, so subtle that it was almost imperceptible, unless you knew what you were looking for: mainly, a deep disdain for being forced into any sort of female gender role. I would have come out as trans, but I didn’t feel that way either.

There was also a slight problem: as much as I disliked anything “girly”, my aesthetic was the exact opposite. I was (and still am … obviously) obsessed with brights, pastels, colorful lipstick, dresses, and heels. When I tried to explain this dilemma to others, they laughed me off and told me I couldn’t possibly not be a girl. If I hated being seen as one so much, they reasoned, why did I wear a dress every day?


The Daily Outfit Algorithm: Sweater Weather Edition

Cute Sweater Weather Style // The Daily Outfit Algorithm // Mimi Chenyao // Asian Barbie

(This turned out to be more of a guide than an algorithm per se, but it works for people of all gender identities!)

At this point, I could teach cartoon characters how to dress.

I’ve been living in Florida for four years, and I had a fancy-but-easy style that allowed me to jump out of bed each morning and not worry about what to wear.

Dressing myself was so predictable that I made the whole routine into an algorithm.

There was a slight problem, though — every time the temperature dropped below 70 degrees, I’d be cold, and then I’d complain about the cold, and everybody would be like “well, yeah, you’re wearing a dress, you totally brought that on yourself.”

They were right. Instead of only having a single outfit planned out and thus defaulting to misery when slightly cooler weather came, I decided to get over myself and come up with a new outfit combination that included pants.