Sad but true: I risked my life for a good selfie

True story: The other day, I was spamming my Snapchat so hard I almost got hit by a semi-truck. I know, it was extra, but I couldn’t help it.

I mean, the light was just too good and the semi-truck really could wait. It honked, it swerved, it almost hit a dog, and there I was so consumed with my self-righteous selfie I stood there without a flinch, proceeding to walk to my Crossfit class unscathed and on time.

Was it worth almost getting squashed to death by a 2 ton truck? Of course not! But the photo had good light– very good light. My face was translucent, in the swipe left once filter, sort of way, the one I use when I’m trying to persuade my followers into thinking I was born with naturally flawless, dewy Korean skin. (Keyword: trying, as my friend Liz explained later, no one actually thinks this of me IRL. Aka I’m ridiculous and apparently thirsty AF).  

SEE ALSO: 6 men on redefining masculinity

More so, it was at a time when I was genuinely feeling myself. I had been working out hard for 5 months and just shed 10 pounds of winter weight—probably the pudgiest I’d felt in a long time. I felt my abs slowly grow in, my arms become veiny, the sinews tightening from bone to body. It’s that embarrassing moment when you know no one’s around when you look in the mirror, take a second look or maybe a long minute-long stare, and are like, DAY-UM, someone’s feeling themselves today. I realized, for the first time in my life I felt–dare I say–sexy. Powerful. Masculine.

When the wind in your face and you feelin yourself. #soho #selfie #ilovenyc ?: @gentlemonsterofficial

A photo posted by David Yi (@seoulcialite) on

Like a man.

But this suddenly made me feel more insecure, grappling with this idea of what makes a man, well, a man. Did my confidence genuinely come from me becoming more of my true self or getting closer to societal’s notions of what a man was supposed to be?

I’ve been scratching my head trying to answer that very question. In a biblical sense, masculinity is best described as Samson, that warrior who tore into lions and slayed his enemies with his strength. In ancient Greek culture, courage was the absolute pillar of masculinity. Well, that, and huge pecs with at least a dozen abs. When scrutinizing our modern age, we see that the consensus is men should be gruff, a little rough around the edges, and emotionless. Muscles! Testosterone! Beards!

But times, they are a’changin.

Photo courtesy Vogue Korea

Photo courtesy Peter Ash Lee for Vogue Korea

Thanks to guys like Jaden Smith, who readily wears dresses because, uh, why not, and Young Thug who went on record saying 90% of his wardrobe is womenswear, and the likes of Frank Ocean being open about his feelings, it’s obvious there’s a cultural revolution brewing. Masculinity has taken on a new meaning. Men are tearing down these antiquated walls and defining themselves however the hell they want to.

Photo courtesy Dazed and Confused

Photo courtesy Dazed and Confused

And brands are finally catching on, too. Last week, CoverGirl announced its newest face, a guy named James Charles. He’s the same guy who went viral last month after his yearbook shoot full of mascara, contouring and the whole works. This is important for several reasons. Namely, having CoverGirl, a national brand with ads displayed in every drug store, normalizes guys being able to express themselves through makeup. A guy who wants to be as fierce as any girl? A CoverBoy? Super cool.

Photo courtesy CoverGirl

Photo courtesy CoverGirl


Which is why I started this website, Very Good Light. It’s built to be a safe haven and a non-judgmental space for guys to talk about “manly” things from all spectrums of manhood. It’s certainly not mine alone, rather a site for anyone who seeks to express their identity, their struggles, triumphs, and failures. And everyone is welcome, of course. Just because we’ll be talking about issues guys deal with doesn’t mean girls don’t deal with some of the same things. Not only are most of my friends women, but I’m proud to call myself a feminist. Being masculine to me is also about having the utmost respect for people from all genders—however you choose to identify. 

In the upcoming weeks, expect features by young, modern men, who are redefining what manhood is all about. From an essay about hyper-masculinity, being the only transgender guy at an all female college, to one about being biracial and how that affected one’s upbringing and sense of self.

Then, we’ll have guides. Lots of guides! They’ll come in .GIF form, videos, and easily digestible tips for when a guy wants to look his best. How to hide your hickey? Should you shave your pits? Brow jobs and why they’re so good. Yeah, all questions you and I have asked ourselves but never wanted to ask anyone else. These aren’t tips from your girlfriends, mothers, or sisters. They’re tips for guys written by guys.

Finally, what’s a good site without interesting people to read about? Celebrity and influencers will be interviewed about their formative years, what very good light means to them, along with inside looks into their grooming closets, in a series called Groom Raider. What do they use? What tips can they give? From athletes, celebrities, musicians, stylists, to renown fashion editors, we’ll get a good idea of what being a modern guy means from different perspectives.

It’s an exciting time to be alive, my friends! And what I’ve concluded is that in our modern age, a man certainly cannot be defined. He can wear makeup, he can wear dresses, he can play basketball, he can rap, sing, dance, can be in love women or men or anyone in between. He can cry, he can be emotional, he can be angry, brash, scared. He can be human.

And that’s when he no longer needs that Snapchat filter, or the natural elements, or risking his life to take that good selfie. Because when he exudes good light–very good light–from within, he’ll never take a bad photo ever again.

Shine on.

I’ve been tricking my friends into thinking I have perfect skin


Throw some shade–literally on your face. (Art by David Yi)

When I was young, ratchet and free at all of 10 years old, I’d scam people into thinking I was smarter than I was.

I capitalized on my Asianness and its stereotypes at every moment if it was opportunistic, like it was a full-time job with benefits. And one of those ways was pretending I was actually good at math. I’d exchange arithmetic help for Pokémon or Magic the Gathering cards, though I didn’t even realize it wasn’t a real card game where there are rules, winners and losers (what do you mean you get to take my cards now that you beat me?).

SEE ALSO: Sad but true: I risked my life for a selfie 

“Long division? Easy. You make a little semi rectangle, put some numbers on top and you then…” I’d trail off to my unsuspecting classmates, their brows furrowed, confused. “Then, you subtract a few things, and it’s really easy to find the solution,” I’d add, chortling enthusiastically and then switching to some other subject. Needless to say, that bluff didn’t last very long, as my peers found they’d receive worse grades on tests than my own. “Should’ve taken my advice on that subtraction stuff!” I’d say nervously, and jet off to the next class, Charizard carefully secured in a protective case in hand.

TLDR: I was really bad at scamming people. I was also awful at hustling. It still holds true in 2016 as a grown ass man. Though I’m fairly terrible at convincing anyone of anything I have found one method in which has been fruitful: my skin. Through it, I’ve learned I could be the ultimate scammer with a simple yet very effective product called BB cream.

The “BB” in BB Cream stands for many things ranging like “beauty balm,” “blemish balm,” “blemish base,” though no one’s really found a consensus. It was formulated in Germany in the 1960s and became huge in Asian in the 2000s. But to me, BB is my own bb, a one-stop shop/all-in-one product. It’s a true multitasker that does everything your human bb won’t: plays more than one role. In this case, it’s a serum, moisturizer, primer, foundation and sunblock.

BB has been there for me when I had an unexpected zit in the morning, or when I looked extra extrafrom being extra late night at some event and needed to look alive. BB never judged me when I was as dehydrated as a prune after running a 10K race without water. BB said it was okay to be lazy AF in the mornings and roll out of bed looking like a trifling troll because BB was there to fix it all.

The wonder product truly is remarkable, especially if you’re really into the “no makeup makeup look.” But BB cream really has been the best at allowing me to redeem my conniving scams from childhood. This time people fall for it.

I use that thing called Vitamin Asian for my skin. Thanks! (Okay, fine, I slather my face with BB cream like in the above).

I use that thing called Vitamin Asian for my skin. Thanks! (Okay, fine, I slather my face with BB cream like in the above).

“My face? I don’t know, I just use Cetaphil!” I lie, convincingly.

“Really? My complexion glows? That’s interesting, I hardly use moisturizer, so weird!”

“Must be that natural Asian skin. Girl,   you know Asian don’t raisin!”

3 BB creams to look into:

If you’re in search of your own BB, consider the following. But before you do, go to your nearest store and find someone to help you find your shade. This is seriously the most important part because you don’t want your neck or hairline looking completely different from your face. Unless, of course, you’re going for The Fa Mulan. Then, by all means, go let your reflection show.

1. Juice Beauty Stem Cellular CC Cream, $20, feels like I’m giving my skin a smoothie every time I use it. Which isn’t surprising because there’s 12 – yes, 12! – different functions in it from color correction, SPF, moisturizer and more. It’s like a boost that gives my skin that much needed glow when I’ve eaten horribly or I slept less than six full hours. It’s light, super smooth, and leaves my skin radiant, covering my acne scars or blemishes without being too caked on. The best part? It corrects my skin’s splotchy tone while I have it on. If this product was personified, it’d definitely be an overachiever, something my parents would be so proud of.


2. Coola Organic BB+ Cream SPF 30, $58, is only 70% natural and organic, but we’ll take that over the competition any day. As we know, it’s been found that many SPFs contain parabens, homosaltate, retinyl palmitate, among others that all toxify the skin. It’s seriously scary, guys. Good thing this small new brand is completely paraben-free. It’s also waterproof for up to 80 minutes (a seemingly random number). That means that it’s perfect for when you’re just about to go for a run and need sunscreen but also need a little coverage because, hey, you never know when shorty gonna run next to you. But remember you better work out in under 80 minutes or else, yeah, your face will melt off.Photo by: David Yi


3. Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Correct & Cover Pink Grapefruit Moisturizer ($9.49), is affordable, accessible at most drugstores or supermarkets, and does more than other BB creams. It actually corrects your acne and treats your blemishes while you’re trying to cover it. As a bonus, it smells like freaking grapefruit. Like, huh? What? I used this once and impressed at how much of a steal this is for under $10. It’s definitely not only a starter BB, but one you can use as your go-to on the daily.