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issue 1

WHO ARE YOU TO TELL ME WHO I AM mirae lee + amy wang

WHO ARE YOU TO TELL ME WHO I AM illustrated by mirae lee designed by amy wang


Copyright Š 2016 Mirae Lee & Amy Wang All rights reserved.

raw adjective | /rô/ 1. Honest, vulnerable, natural. 2. Not having undergone processes of manufacture. 3. Painfully exposed, as a sore or a wound. RAW is a zine of real, unfiltered stories and thoughts. This is us, beneath the walls and the ruckus of a socially constructed mask. These are ordinary experiences — ones that you and I all go through. We share not to impose, but to reflect and connect. We hope that as you make your way through these pages, you find parts of yourself, a little something that resonates with your own story.

introduction When we sat down to decide what theme we would pursue for the debut of our zine, we came across one crucial topic: identity. It’s something that deeply permeates each of our lives. The people who strangers assume we might be are not the same people that our friends think we are, nor are they the people that our families see us as. Even then, none of these ‘selves’ are entirely congruent with who we know ourselves to be. Who holds authority over narratives about my identity? Am I who I decide to be, or am I what the world perceives me as? How do I reconcile the different, sometimes conflicting, sides of my personality as a complex human being? In the first issue of RAW, we explore these questions, ultimately reclaiming our sense of self and autonomy.

Catch me if you can I am one step ahead of myself and two steps ahead of you. I haven’t met all of me yet. Even as I am, I am becoming. My poetry teacher once spoke about how different mediums can transport you from Point A to Point B. She wasn’t talking about distance and time, but rather, experience. Every moment is a marinade, a memory defined in subjectivity. What this instance is to you is not the same as what it is to me. I breathe, my cells regenerate, as do I. We sit side by side. You blink, and there I am: exactly as I was. I close my eyes and become another person.


— a.w.

The me you know When I’m with you, I am a different person When I’m with them, Some of my friends have come to me and said: You act differently around -this personYou act differently in -this settingYou act differently than last time I saw you You weren’t like this You aren’t like this You don’t act like this to me And they subtly remind you, They don’t like this unfamiliar me They feel betrayed This is not who they know This is not the me they know This is not who I should be But maybe this is me. Maybe who they know and who this is, Maybe both are me.

— m.l.


Paradox I worked at a clothing store one summer and all my coworkers thought I was the happiest girl they’d ever met. I have no energy to interact with anyone today. Tomorrow, I’m aching to sing at the top of my lungs and compliment every stranger I meet. I smile uncontrollably and walk the earth like I’ve never been hurt. I don’t know how to let people in. This moment is adrenaline-filled heart-pumping breathtakingly thrilling and the next is just… still. My blank face spells out disinterest. Or maybe, a million nuts and bolts spinning inside of my brain like machinery. I shower my pals with hugs but I never could say ‘I love you’ to my family. The me commanding that stage is the same me who gets shy in front of a camera. I am equal parts soft and wild, and rare is the soul who’s had the whirlwind of knowing both.

— a.w.


Breathing space I stare at your messages I stare at your words I stop and wonder Why do I have to tell you everything Why do I have to tell you how my everyday was Why do I need to reassure you that I’m having a good day Why do I have to tell you what I’m thinking Why do I have to tell you my opinions on you Why do I have to reveal everything to you Why do you assume I won’t enjoy it Why do you assume I will Why do I have to match what you think I am Who are you to posit yourself in such a part in my life? But maybe you do deserve a seat in my parliament To ensure I am doing well To ensure I am being me And maybe you do know me Maybe even more than others Maybe even more than I do


But can I really offer you the seat So contested with my understanding of me So contested with my hypotheses of me Maybe I’m being too sensitive Too overthinking Too threatened for no reason But hey, maybe this is who I am Maybe this is the person you thought you knew and all I’m asking is for a breath of fresh air A space where I can be me, Away from your questions, Your expectations, Your versions of who I am. So please Let me be who I am, Even the who you wish is not the me. Let me be me Because sometimes, I don’t think you are letting me. — m.l.


A play of prejudices As I walk down the streets As I interact with them I find myself very self-aware self-conscious about what they see self-conscious about what they are thinking about me They see me They see my face, my hair, my eyes What do you see? And then they judge they assume, they expect, they stereotype they see me as how they think everyone like me is like You see me through the lens emblemed with preconceptions They greet me: “Konichiwa” They ask me: “Do you eat sushi everyday at home?” They throw words around in their assumed accent, assuming I understand what they’re assumingly saying Sometimes, they start talking to me in Mandarin Sometimes, they start the conversations with: “Do you know [insert Kpop band]?” “You don’t know [insert K-drama]? Are you even Korean?” “So, is Korea basically what it’s like in... what’s that video... Gangnam Style?”


And sometimes they get surprised and throw a compliment at me “Your English is really good… So where did you live before? No, I mean, where are you actually from?” Before I can talk Before I can open my mouth Before I can tell them who I am they already sorted me in their library into a category with others “like me” I’ve already become someone simply from my appearance created from bits and pieces from observations and experiences from obliviousness and generalisations from you I’ve already been given a mask to act in a role that’s not mine to act in a role I didn’t sign up for to be a puppet in a play your play of prejudices — m.l.


Shape-shifter As I get older I start to feel more like a child watching from inside of an adult’s body. I’m bad at living in the twenty-first century. I’m trying my hardest to blend in with the humans. I spent twenty years studying how to shape-shift. Can they see through my disguise? I want to go home. Home — to the intersection in the sky’s highway between concrete imagination and abstract sensation.

— a.w.


Your filtered identity Nowadays People enter into your life already overlaid with a filter You’ve heard about them through your friend You’ve creeped them on Facebook after you met You’ve found their Instagram and judged their aesthetic You’ve read their advocacy posts or laughed at their “Best of Tumblr” reposts You’ve clicked next to find their first profile pics or felt annoyed with the “unnecessary” privacy settings You’ve scrolled through til the end of their tweets or stopped mid-way through their endless selfies You’ve created a filter You’ve decided that you want to be their friend or that they’re weird and maybe you won’t get along You’ve already decided what kind of a person they are and yet you can’t even say “hi” to them on the streets


But it’s us, We have written our social media biography With maybe some unnecessary opinions, maybe some hasty bursts of emotions, maybe some fake smiles or cries of joy, maybe some truths to heart with some reality flaws, or lies in VSCO edits to boost your “boring” life. So then, Who are you really? Can I judge you from your profile picture? Can I judge you from what kind of friends you have? Can I judge you based on your “aesthetic”? Is this who you are? And can I ask you another question: Is this who you want to be?

— m.l.


Starving for meaning “That’s odd,” my optometrist says to me. “Why don’t you study something that’ll get you a job?” My eyes follow his as he throws me in a box. Starving artist. Don’t you think I know that painting isn’t going to foot a six-figure salary? That years of words spilled into notebooks won’t translate into a Recipe Book for Traditional Corporate Success? You’re right. I’m hungry as fuck. This is me putting together 1+1’s, desperately stringing together syllables and writing my own algorithms to try to help others out from between a rock and a hard place. I’m digging in the dark for metaphors I’m trying to connect with another being This is the best way I know how to make sense of this thing we call breathing. You take us as wide-eyed dreamers Naive little flower child, with her head in the clouds. But artists are some of the hardest hustlers I know.


Look at them over there: creating things out of nothing making meaning out of our circumstances raising a reality of richness from the plain. Quick. Turn off all the music you’ve ever heard. Beethoven’s Für Elise, the Beatles tracks your parents played you as a kid, and that new Rihanna song you’ve got on, they’re gone. Close your eyes. Tear down the AGO, the Mona Lisa, erase memories of every film and TV show in the world. You don’t get a photographer at your wedding and we can burn all the novels too. If I can use art to analyze the statistics of your existence and plot where Conformity becomes greater than Happiness, is that not powerful enough for you? We’re on different wavelengths and I have so much respect for that. I just wanted to know if you had the empathy in you to try and see my soul. When did we get so old that we gave up on our dreams? Who told you that you couldn’t make a difference with art? Sir, I think my vision’s just fine. I can see crystal clear through the buzz of our hive mind Earth is just a one-time experience so heck, I’m going to make this mine.


— a.w.

Ode to a stranger First lesson of psychology: life is a story that you tell yourself. Identity is a construct and guess what? The power’s in your hands. OUR THOUGHTS SHAPE OUR LIFE WE SHAPE OUR THOUGHTS IF WE WANT TO CHANGE OUR LIVES WE START BY CHANGING OURSELVES WHO WE BECOME IS WHO WE DECIDE TO BE Nobody sees the world quite like you do. I’ve never met anyone quite like you. You have so many nuances to which you could call others colour-blind.


I sit on the subway looking at all the strangers I wonder about the universes they carry and do they look anything like mine? I think people are so accustomed to the Big Dipper’s glow and familiar Mars We can’t see much outside of our own stars. But the thing about that is, a universe doesn’t cease to exist just because it has yet to be discovered.

— a.w.


meet the creators

Amy Wang is a writer and photographer. Formerly studying English literature at the University of Toronto, she is now pursuing a path where she can spend the rest of her life creating. She has a thing for subways and haikus, and believes that living with presence is the most important thing we can do.

Mirae Lee is currently an undergraduate student of art history and social/cultural anthropology at the University of Toronto. She has a fascination towards how humans behave and interact with and within art spaces, and believes there is beauty even in the mundane.

find us on the internet @amyadrien and @miraelxx

instagram @rawzine


RAW Zine: Issue 1  

Our debut issue explores the topic of identity through a collection of art, prose, and poetry.

RAW Zine: Issue 1  

Our debut issue explores the topic of identity through a collection of art, prose, and poetry.