Name: Aly L.
How did you chose your major? I chose journalism because it was the end of my sophomore year, and I had no idea what I wanted to do. So, I thought, “Hey, journalism has a lot of options.” So I chose it, and I ended up really liking it. I chose well.
Aly’s pants are from Korea and were a gift from her aunt. The blouse went well with the pants, so she bought it as well.
What has been your most inspiring moment within journalism this far? I think it was when I discovered that I really enjoyed making videos. I think it clicked when I made a documentary about a nudist resort. This was around the end of last year, and it just hit that this was something that I enjoyed doing. I was really thankful that I happened to choose a major that I enjoyed doing not just as school work, but something that I enjoyed doing in my own free time.
Have you used your education in journalism in your personal life? Um, yeah. When I go on trips, I bring my camera and make little videos for fun. This sounds corny, but I just kind of see things differently. I see things through my lens, and instead of just taking pictures, I will make little videos.
Why video? Well I realized that when I was young, my mom never really took any video of me. She just took a lot of photos. But think about kids growing up in this day and age: They have so many videos from their parents. I just think it is a really cool thing to look back on old videos. It seems more real than photos because it’s moving and stuff, and you can see how you acted at a certain age and stuff like that. I wish there would have been more videos of me. So when I have a kid, I’m going to be the mom that has hours and hours of cool videos that I can show them when they’re older.
What have the photos from your past taught you about yourself? (Laughs) I was a fat boy when I was a baby. Yeah, that’s what that taught me. I am seriously glad that I have the head of hair that I have now. When I was younger, I had these wimpy little pigtails that my mom would try to gather up. I was like eight, and you usually have hair by the time you’re eight. I looked like a balding old man when I was eight, and when I was three, I kind of looked like Buddha.
“I am seriously glad that I have the head of hair that I have now.”
How has your style changed since you were fat Buddha? Oh my gosh! My mom used to dress me in frills and girly things to make people be like, “Ah yes that is a girl despite the fact that it looks like a boy.” I still cringe when I look back on the stuff that I wore in middle and high school. I think, “What was I thinking? Was I thinking?” I actually like my style now that I’m an adult. I don’t think I will look back in a few years and cringe. I still wear some clothes that I’ve had for a really long time, the things that I can’t let go. Like my jacket I’ve actually had for a long time. I’ve had it since seventh or eighth grade when I was in Korea. It was only $5.
Do you get a lot of your clothes from Korea? Yeah, definitely. In my wardrobe right now, I would say about 70% of my clothes are from Korea. When I am here, I don’t have as much money to shop. So when I’m here, I shop in little bits, but when I go to Korea, I go full on, like bring an empty suitcase shopping. I prefer this because I don’t end up having the same clothes as other people. It sets me apart a little, but I like the clothes more.
Aly’s shoes are from Korea. Her mom bought them for her birthday as a good investment. Aly agrees, “They totally are.”
Do you like fashion because it sets you apart from others? I don’t know. It’s not like I read fashion magazines or blogs or anything like that. Fashion is just what I put on in the morning. It feels normal to me to dress up more, and I think that’s because I attended some of high school in Seoul, Korea. Seoul is really concerned about looks, fashion and how you represent yourself. You will never see a girl in Seoul go out in yoga pants or sweatpants. For the most part, it is heels, sleek and chic. It’s like skirts and blouses and that kind of thing, and I got accustomed to that. When I came here, it just kind of carried over.
Her Coach purse was an early graduation gift from her mother.
What are the biggest differences between Seoul and Eugene? Yoga pants! Yoga pants are just not a thing in Korea. People there would be so scandalized by yoga pants. They would be like, “Why aren’t you wearing a shirt or dress over that? I can see your whole butt!” Over there, they’re really more modest I guess. In Korean society, you’re supposed to be modest and demure. Over there, you are just expected to be more ladylike. It just seems like for the most part, young-twenty-somethings are just more polished compared to here. You know here, you can just go out in whatever you’re comfortable in, which is usually a more casual look. There, it is much more about being sophisticated.
Aly wears one of the ten owl necklaces that she owns. Her rings are from “…the two most important people in her life,” her mother and her boyfriend.
Why do you think there is such an emphasis on sophistication in Seoul? Well, the short version is that ever since the Korean War, South Korea has become a huge metropolis in a short period of time. They had to deal with a burst of growth and a lot of new changes in a sudden manner. It grew too fast. Now, people are so concerned with what it is that makes them look like they have money. Like how can you present yourself to people in a way that they can respect you? I guess having money is respect. That is why you go to a good school, so you can have a good job and lots of money and be successful and happy. I think it has kind of made society a little bit shallow and way too materialistic. I think the girls there care too much about how they look.
What do the girls there do to make you feel this way? Well Korea has over taken Brazil for the number one country for plastic surgery. 70% or 80% of the girls graduating from high school get double eyelid surgery. They do this to make their eyes look bigger and more “western.” It is amazing; it is like so casual and so normal. People tell me all the time to get it. They’re like, “you wouldn’t have to wear as much makeup,” and “I’ll pay for it. Come on it isn’t even that expensive.” About three years ago, I think I considered it. I thought it would make my life easier but then I realized that I didn’t want to conform to that and become like that. It is very conformist. Like the modesty thing too. Why can’t I wear an open backed shirt in Korea in the summer? It is hot as fuck there. It’s the whole sheep mentality, which is despicable, and that is why I can’t live in Korea for extended periods of time. They do have good clothes, but I don’t think it’s worth it. I think you should be able to wear what makes you comfortable and not have to take a knife to your face, you know? It is so messed up. This is why I love Eugene. No one really gives a shit. That’s what is great about Eugene. I can only imagine what it would be like if people in Seoul could see Eugene. (Laughs) I think it would be good for them.
Aly chose to abstain from double eyelid surgery, “…I realized that I didn’t want to conform…”
What would they learn from experiencing Eugene? They would see that variety is good. Think about the psychology of it, young girls graduating from high school in Seoul think that they need to get eyelid surgery done to be beautiful. It is so messed up. What taught these girls to feel this way? I mean probably Hollywood and the media. Korea has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Their satisfaction of life is way low on the list. I don’t think what you look like on the outside translates to how you feel on the inside. I have met some of the happiest people in Eugene who wear what they want and have never gone to a hair salon. In Korea, they can look like a super model but not be happy on the inside.
WRITTEN AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY NATASHA PITZER, @NATASHAPITZER