Lysha’s story – looks aren’t everything

 

Asian woman in lingerie

  

If you see me in public, you’d be looking at someone with a resting bitch face, strutting around and on a mission to get something done. Self-assured and well put-together, I might not be the first person you’d strike a conversation with. But what you don’t see, is that I’m frantically making up for lost time, trying to do multiple tasks at once and working to be one step closer to enjoying the life I’ve made for myself.

 

Today, I’m sharing my story with you so it’ll spark a fire within to look inwards and transform.

 

My story involves taking a trip down memory lane where I was moulded into somebody I was not in my childhood, and over time I developed a double life to cope.

 

If we ever got to know each other, I’d always highlight the beginning of my life in Australia. My parents chose to immigrate our family to Melbourne in 2000 with hopes that my brother and I’d live a better life. My parents were one of many success stories in a regional city notoriously known for illegal sexual services, organised crime, and corruption. I remember my parents telling me how lingerie was tied to the sexual service subculture and women who wore it were seen to be offering ‘special’ services.

 Asian girl in denim jacket

Above photo: A young and adorable Lysha

      

I was four when my family and I immigrated, and I was immediately thrust into the Australian education system without any English skills. My parents’ determination to provide for the family meant that my brother and I had to either work at our shop on school holidays or preoccupy ourselves after school until they came home. The time we did spend together was memorable, but I mostly remember lectures on traditional expectations I had to uphold in the family. I needed to cultivate a collectivist mindset, make the right decisions, maintain an innocent and obedient image, and so on. Eager to please my parents, I learnt all the rules by the book even though they had no real value to me. There was nothing else grounding me to my identity, and I was desperate to be accepted somewhere.

 

If we ever became friends, I’d describe my childhood as difficult; I navigated life as ‘the outsider looking in’. My natural interaction with the Australian culture through music and the internet resulted in increasing frustration with the gendered rules, at home and in society. In primary school, I distinctly remember watching the Pussycat Dolls’ ‘Buttons’ music video at the local YMCA TV in awe, only to be caught by my mum and later lectured about the ‘dirtiness’ of the girl group (how dare these beautiful women to show off their body in lingerie!). The ‘good’ vs bad’ girl paradox was even more evident when my music taste transitioned to J-pop and K-pop in high school, with music videos using purity/light and sexy/dark as common themes. I also fantasised what life would be like if my family never immigrated – would I still be in school? Would I still be a ‘good’ girl? The one thing I knew though, was that women are only allowed a two-dimensional identity and anything more would result in an ultimatum of these supposed polarising identities. And interestingly, the imbalance of respect for women choosing to be sexually confident is reflected in Britney Spears’ comeback with the ‘Gimme More’ song and its critiques (still a classic ‘00s song if you ask me). It didn’t make sense, and I felt like I was suffocating mentally as I maintained the image my parents wanted while being 'unleashed' with my friends. After high school graduation, I promised myself to find the real me and to make the necessary mistakes to get to my happy place.

 Asian woman sitting under tree

Above photo: Ahhh! we adore this lovely photo of Lysha sitting under a tree

I’ve kept my promise, and while my self-discovery still has a long journey to go I started to unconditionally love myself a few years ago. Committing myself to pole dancing has allowed me to start freely expressing myself through music, movement, and clothes (or sometimes lack thereof). From there, I’ve built up the confidence to take it wherever I go. This has not been possible without the beautiful souls I’ve met along the way, where they share their life stories with me and give me space to be human. They handle my sassy behaviour with compassion, and quite honestly, I want to pay it forward! I’ve started doing this in my own way by sharing cultural differences on the basis of unity and harmony. For instance, lingerie still has a negative stigma in Asian culture, and I aim to challenge the mindset of the everyday Asian woman. If it’s becoming normal for a woman to be a mum and a full-time worker, surely it should equally be as normal to be classy and sexy at the same time. To me, lingerie is a celebration of a woman’s body and should be worn for nobody but yourself. It elevates your worth when you wear it for the right reasons (if you wear it for your occupation then you go get that cash girlfriend!), but it will never diminish it!

 

If you saw me in public, you’d never guess how my upbringing has impacted the way I perceive life now. With my apparent demeanour, you’d never know how much healing, un-learning and growth I’ve done to get to where I am today. I’m not saying the transformation is going to be easy, but it’s going to be worth every moment of your time. 

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