Mulan - Who Is That Girl I See?
When will my reflection show who I am inside?
After more than 20 years, Mulan’s message is just as relevant and meaningful as ever!
As a kid entering my teens, it was the first time I felt represented, a Disney Princess I could identify with and relate to. It felt like the world could see me and I’d laugh at the funny moments almost as if they were inside jokes that only I could understand!
Mulan’s mom - “Of all the days to be late! I should have prayed to the ancestors for luck”. (祖先保佑, geddit??)
Granny - “How lucky can they be? They're dead”!
More than two decades later, the music, the songs and the lyrics still give me goosebumps, while the themes have become more powerful than they ever have. Speak up, if not for yourself, then for those who can’t, be true to yourself and others, be loyal and do the right thing even when it’s the most difficult thing! #mulanpower 💪
Needless to say, I’ve been looking forward to this live action remake since before it was even announced and now having seen it and loved it, I feel so proud all over again! It’s just what we needed to remind people of our rich history, culture and core values.
When I started a medical company with my brother, I was surprised by how often I’d be asked, even by my own friends, if I was a nurse and if my brother was a doctor, despite us both being in the same uniform! Subtle stereotypes like this can often be quietly yet potently undermining.
As a woman, I’ve never once felt hindered in the workplace in Singapore but I’d be naïve to think this is true everywhere.
Mulan is a beautiful reminder to a whole new generation of young people that they can do anything they set their minds to! If you have a calling, be true to yourself and go for it!
You all know me by now, a new Disney movie means a new photoshoot! However, with so many elements in Mulan resonating with me so strongly, I decided not to go with the traditional Chinese attire and instead reimagined what it means to be Mulan in this, our brave new world, battling everyday struggles and staying true to ourselves!
Just as they did with Moana and Polynesian culture, Coco and Mexican culture, Disney did a heck of a lot of homework to show Chinese culture in the best light possible and I’m so grateful for it!
Director Niki Caro (who also directed the outstanding Whale Rider) explained how their research led to the powerful use of colour based on their different roles in Chinese culture.
Certain colours are considered auspicious (吉利) or inauspicious (不利), how yellow and gold represents prestige, heroism and neutrality often associated with the emperor and royalty, while red represents love, passion and bravery, all of which Mulan stands for!
So it goes without saying, I donned a red power suit and dress to create this vision of Mulan.
I’ll also let you in on a secret, I’ve been working with Crztales to create a very special bracelet featuring various stones, to encompass the spirit of Mulan!
Keep reading for more!
All the stars literally aligned for this, even the capricious weather cooperated for once.
It's been raining cats and dogs for days and I was afraid I'd have to use artificial lighting for this shoot which wouldn't be ideal for the vibe I was going for.
Well, it was all sunny and bright and the items I ordered last minute for the shoot also arrived just in time.
Lucky me! I also received a few PR gifts just before the shoot which I thought fitted the theme like a glove.
Oh oh oh! Look closely in the photos above and you’ll catch a glimpse of an enchanting, exclusive Mulan-inspired bracelet from Crztales! I’m extremely humbled to have had the opportunity to contribute to such a meaningful collection. If you have been watching my IG stories, you've probably heard me talk about a secret collaboration with my good friend, Qi Yun (Founder of Crztales) several times.
I can finally let the cat out of the bag.
Qi Yun and I spent many hours over WhatsApp video calls perfecting our Mulan bracelet design! Crafted using natural crystals including Howlite, a calming stone which can relieve insomnia and stress while facilitating awareness and emotional expression and Red Agate, which protects the chakra (spiritual power) within us and promotes safety, grounding and influencing energy points within our body, these good luck mantras are exactly what we need!
Other precious stones include the Carnelian Agate, Golden Sandstone and Red Tiger Eye.
I was adamant not to veer away from the red colour palette to align with Mulan's passionate and filial side. The darker hues representing her strength, courage and determination.
The crowning piece to the bracelet are the gold leaves which were inspired by a Chinese idiom 落叶归根 (luò yè guī gēn) meaning a falling leaf will eventually return to its roots.
The idiom represented by the leaves perfectly describes her desire to go back to her family even when she was bestowed a prestigious title in the capital by the emperor.
I hope I brought honour to us all with my depiction of what a Mulan bracelet should look like.
This is a one-of-a-kind Mulan-themed bracelet or more specifically, six-of-a kind bracelet as Crztales will only be releasing 6 of this design at SGD88 each. Psst! Quote 'Juliana' to get yours at $78!
Here's an intimate view of our Mulan crystal bracelet!
"The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all." The Emperor, Mulan
I was sent the new #fmgtsignature Collection by THEFACESHOP and thought the beautiful rosy hues in the Mono Pop Multi Palette Signature (SGD43) and Rouge Mini Kit (SGD49) were perfect for creating my Mulan look for the shoot.
I wanted the makeup to look very subtle but not completely bare. Besides the natural looking red tones on my eyes, I added some dimension to them by gently dabbing the very pigmented and glittery 'Romantic Spring' eyeshadow from the palette on the centre of my lids. One swipe goes a long way - my eyes immediately perked up and drew all the attention.
I was really looking forward to using this palette for many photoshoots to come but something very unfortunate occured during the shoot. Check out these behind-the-scenes outtakes on my IG Story highlights to find out what happened to the palette after the shoot. 😅
EMMEzing NAILS' Find Your Inner Warrior
Oh my magnolia! ('Mulan' means magnolia in Chinese btw.)
These Mulan nail wraps were artfully designed by Wendee, head honcho of EMMEzing NAILS. I thought she captured the essence of Mulan very well and they look absolutely gorgeous on my nails! I hope my photos did them justice.
When I first saw them on the EMMEzing NAILS website, I knew I had to get them all. Wendee even kindly included a Miracle Cuticle Oil Pusher to help me clean my cuticles and moisturise my nails before my epic nail makeover.
They are really easy to apply and can last for weeks each time.
Can't forget Mulan's protective shield for her heroic battles and in 2020, that means her face mask!
This sleek satin red reusable mask is courtesy of my friend, Ziling. They come in three different sizes, S, M and L and are the perfect fusion of style and function!
You can DM her directly on her Instagram to get your essentials for this brave new fashion world too!
And finally, my power suit is from Shein. I thought the cut was just like the product shots. However, the sizing runs a little big for me.
Psst! Quote 'Honeyz' to receive 10% off any chemical service by William at Shunji Matsuo (Ngee Ann). And possibly also inherit some of his hairstyling wisdom.
Just like the new movie, my Mulan shoot might not have been in the traditional style expected by some but I loved it and I hope you do too!
The new movie was a joy to behold and I hope you’re able to catch it on the biggest screen you can find!
Back in 1998, when most of the world was still unaware of the legend of Mulan, Disney employed tactics to bridge the culture gap between the east and the west with the famous hair cutting scene, which actually made little sense to the Chinese world as men and women alike had long hair in the past!
There was also Mushu, who I loved but many didn’t, feeling he was more like a scrawny lizard than an accurate representation of a true, majestic, Chinese dragon.
While Mulan was shown to not be a traditional ‘girly girl’ she was neither shown to be the opposite and director, Niki Caro, did a fantastic job creating a back story that makes the rest so much more cohesive with references to chi and other familiar tropes we all know and love!
And yes, I loved the references to classic Asian cinema with characters like the White Haired Witch (白发魔女) !
If I haven’t whet your appetite enough, here’s the trailer:
Loyal, brave & true... And one more value at the end, for those of you who have seen the movie, which means more to me than anything!
Stay happy, stay Disneyfied!
Ahem! Now if you'll excuse me, Mulan needs to go back to her proverbial battlefield, the office!