Month: February 2015

Ted Gibson - standing

I’m a TCK and a Celebrity Hairstylist

Although he was known in celebrity circles beforehand, stylist Ted Gibson really gained notoriety for his skills with scissors and shears when he joined the What Not to Wear team on TLC – a television show that revamps nominated people who deem themselves as folks with no style. Superficial on the outset, it winds up being a moment of growth for the person, typically a mother who has neglected to do something nice for herself, or a woman who met her weight loss goal but still hasn’t gained the confidence to show off her new body. As a hairdresser, Gibson is one of the last stops on the show and gives the person’s hair a makeover, completing the process. “A lot of women don’t know how incredible they can be and how incredible they can feel,” Gibson said of the ladies who sit in his chair. The show ended in October 2013, but he’s still busy as ever. With two namesake salons open the W Hotels in New York City and Fort Lauderdale, he travels …

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From the moon

In July 1974, my sister and I were dressed in matching blue-and-white shirts and no-fuss haircuts, exploring a ship while it sliced through a Norwegian fjord. We were on “home leave” – returning to the United States for the first time since we’d moved to Jakarta the previous year. Before this trip, our family vacations had consisted of car trips; my sister and I sitting in the backseat, a suitcase forming the demilitarized zone between us, with stays in motels and dinners of fast food. But now, we were traveling around Scandinavia for a few weeks, eating reindeer meat and dainty, open-faced sandwiches. As my sister and I raced around the boat, a white haired woman with both loud clothing and voice – an American – smiled and asked where we were from. Since I was ten and therefore much older and wiser than my 8-year-old sister, I replied, “Indonesia.” The woman turned to her friend and said, “Look at the two little Indonesian boys!” We giggled but didn’t correct her. With dark blonde hair and blue-gray eyes, it was unlikely …

Fourth grade in Tokyo

What accent are you?

Have you ever stopped in the middle of a conversation to think consciously about what accent you’re speaking in? To check if you’re pronouncing things ‘correctly’? I have. A lot. Raised by Singaporean parents, I grew up speaking English while living in Japan, causing me to adopt a Singaporean accent. Singaporean English, while based on British English, is also heavily influenced by American, Malay, Chinese and Indian dialects. The result is a creole called colloquial Singlish, which doesn’t comply with traditional language rules, and can be extremely difficult to understand. At age 6, I started attending an American international school in Tokyo called Christian Academy in Japan. I still remember the day when I was called out of my fourth grade class and informed that I needed to receive speech lessons to improve my pronunciation. My mum was furious. Why did her son, who spoke perfectly good English, need speech lessons? I was also stumped: what was wrong with the way I spoke? Every week, I practised my ‘r’, curling my tongue upward, towards the roof and back of my …