Review: Their Story by HaeNuLi Shin

HaeNuLi Shin is best known in the lolita world for her self-titled lolita fashion brand, Haenuli. I first learned abut Haenuli’s fashion brand at a lolita convention in Georgia called “Frill”. It was the first year of the convention, which was pretty small, and so it was held in like a club house type building, and there was room which had been transformed into a little shop. And when you went in the entrance near the front door, there were a few tables and then there was this mannequin, and on the mannequin was a sample of Haenuli’s sleeping beauty print in black. And, I remember, I asked to buy it and was told it wasn’t for sale yet. I ended up buying it in two colors and I’ve been following her brand ever since.

Recently, she published an artbook called Their Story.

Their Story: The Story You Don't Know Haenuli comic

Their Story follows two main characters; a girl and a skeleton. Both figures are symbolic; the girl can be interpreted as the reader, or an embodiment of human emotion, of life, or as a girl friend in a couple. The skeleton can be interpreted as depression or death, or a boyfriend / ex-boyfriend, friend or lost love, or as the hard-to-describe feeling of safety and familiarity that lurks under the surface of depression. The story resonates on a deeply personal level, and I think it’s one of those things where it can really be interpreted in many different ways. Make no mistake though; it is not a light story. It has a weight to it.

For those who have been following the facebook photo posts, I can say it’s a little different; it’s not just a series of single images, the actual book (Their Story: The Story You Don’t Know) has a plot and a momentum to it. It’s a cyclical story, and it’s one of those books that really leaves you with an almost tactile feeling of needing to sit, and think on the depth and meaning of the story for a bit after reading it.

I strongly recommend reading it at least twice, as an additional layer of understanding is added to the story the second time around.

The hard cover comes with a full color cover and dust jacket with holographic printing for the title. The pages are thick, and there are a couple velum pages as well which give a unique movement and interaction to the book.

Today doodle : Reason why Death hide every books "A Game of thrones" #doodle

A post shared by Haenuli/Nunu (@haenulishop) on

The free lavender colored book that comes with it, which is similar titled “Their Story: Story You Don’t Know”, is soft cover and staple bound. It’s a total of 12 pages long, also on thick quality paper. This mini-book is much more lighthearted, and casts “them” (the skeleton) more firmly as death. It includes things like the above exchange where the girl asks Them about the deaths in Romeo and Juliette, to which Them is forced to reply that it’s not really their fault; it’s Shakespear’s! It’s a delightful splash of fun after the more serious tone of the main book, and makes for a lovely bonus.

The book is sold out in hardcover, but there is a softcover version that is still available, along with prints and teeshirts. You can get them from Haenuli Shop.


sc print shirt
 

Sweet Mildred Lucky Pack Opening

I purchased a “Small Accessory Luckpack” from sweet mildred on Etsy as part of her Small Business Saturday Sale. Each pack contained a zipper pouch, and some accessories, and hey were super affordable at only $20 each. You could opt to get one with or without pierced earrings. I selected the “With earrings” option, and here is what I got.

Sweet Mildred


The necklace is silver tone with pearls, and features a key and some beautiful flowers. The motifs are common and universal, so this will be something I can pair with a lot of different options. It’s well constructed, the clasp and charms have some weight to them, and the beads are nice. All in all it’s a solid piece that is worth the price I paid all on it’s own.

 

Next we have a wooden pin of a playing card with a really fancy lady on it, who I think might be Marie Antoinette, but I’m really bad at this sort of thing so… it’s at least that time period? It’s got great colors and I love the detailing in the image. It has a pin back and seems quite sturdy.

 

Next we have a pair of earrings with an Alice in Wonderland motif; they feature a rabbit in card suit heraldry blowing on a trumpet. They are brass tone, and on hooks with a little pearl bead on each. Again, they have a nice weight to them and seem to use good quality materials.

 

Next, we have a little ring with a glittering pink strawberry on a white filigree base. I love when people use these painted ring bases because I have a lot of metal allergies, and they don’t bother me. The earrings I’ll just paint with nail polish; I do that with even some of the gold or silver ones I buy depending on the makeup.

 

Lastly, we have the pouch. Mine is a black fabric with cats on it on the outside and it’s lined in black x white polka dots. I’ve turned the corner over so you can see it here. There is a black zipper as well. It’s well made and sturdy with a good thickness to it. It would make a great travel pouch for accessories.

Value-wise, it’s an exceptional deal. The necklace retails at $25, from what I remember, similar rings to this sell for $5, earrings are $10, pins are at least $5. So even before we add in the pouch, we have at least $45 worth of accessories. All in all, I’m really happy with what I got, and would definitely recommend similar lucky packs from Sweet Mildred in the future.

Bodyline and Rape Culture in Lolita Fashion

First of all, in case it’s not obvious in the title, this post will talk about sexual assault, sexual harassment and rape, though it will generally be in the abstract and non-explicit.

Most lolita are familiar with Bodyline, and many are familiar with Mr. Yan, the owner of bodyline who is on a quest to acquire more waifus.

If you google “Mr. Yan” you get memes like this:

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A selection of YouTube Videos like “Leave Mr. Yan Alone!“, a video of a lolita teaching him to Tango when he was touring the world, and multiple unboxings of his Body pillow.

And of course there is the infamous body pillow, which sold out and was recently re-released:

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And as I mentioned above, he did a world tour where young women met with him while dressed up in lolita and flirted with him and joked around about him.

Recently, at rufflecon there was a panel called “Mr. Yan’s Next Top Waifu (18+)” where someone wore a Mr. Yan costume and held a fake wife contest. I didn’t attend, but the line was quite long. 

Before I go any farther, I want to say that this is simply an explorational piece and I am not calling attention to the people who used these memes, own these body pillows, made these videos, hosted or attended these panels in an attempt to condemn or shame them. Instead, I’d like to take an abstract look at the meme of “Mr. Yan” inside the lolita community. I encourage readers to draw their own conclusions and determine on their own how they feel about these things.

That said, let’s look into the history of the Meme of Mr. Yan. For starters, the first exposure the western lolita community really had to Mr. Yan was through cheesy images and videos used by the Bodyline site to promote sales. Most people who viewed these images and videos found them funny, and thought very little of it at the time. Though there were already mentions of him being a bit of a creep.

It wasn’t until later that it came out that the Mr. Yan so furious sale, which involved him breaking a mirror on camera because he was so mad, lined up with a model contest winner refusing to marry him, and Bodyline trying to force her to pay them back for her free trip because she wouldn’t marry the owner. Looking at this in the abstract, the contest was borderline human trafficking. Had the girl not had the money to pay her way out of it, she could have been trapped in Japan. This was back in 2009. There were also some rumors of Model Contest Winner Nadia (Yes, the love Nadia print is named after her) being hit on as well, and even back then there was chatter about Mr. Yan being a creep. In 2010 a Facebook fan club was set up. In 2012, Yoshiko left bodyline and had issues getting bodyline to mail her back her things. And in 2013, there was the whole thing with Venus which may or may not be exaggerated / staged; it’s hard to tell as her mother was pushing her as a reality entertainment personality. I don’t want to make light of her situation or imply that it’s ok to question accusations of harassment, but I also am not sure how credible her accounts are, given that we know her mother is not a credible source. In 2014, there was the sexy Mr. Yan body pillow which has it’s own fan page, and was literally made because over 100 people pre-ordered it after people asked Bodyline to make it.

Ok, so now we have set the scene a bit. Mr. Yan is a middle aged man who owns bodyline, he’s a pervert who likes to try to touch young women without permission, asks them to go to love hotels and/or marry him, and it’s funny.

It’s funny.

Right?

Funny.

Except, it’s kind of not funny.

So what is Rape Culture? “Rape culture is a term that was coined by feminists in the United States in the 1970’s. It was designed to show the ways in which society blamed victims of sexual assault and normalized male sexual violence.” [x]

It’s been a bit of a buzz word in the news lately in the US, but at it’s core, I think it’s an interesting, and valuable sociological concept to look at. In this particular case we have unwanted male attention being given to young women who are models. So they are coming into a job, where the payment is a trip to Japan, and the company owner is sexually harassing them, and if they refuse his advances, he’s violent. That’s quite a scary situation for most young women.

When we make a joke out of it, and laugh about it happening, this normalizes that behavior. It says to other people “I care more about this joke being funny, than I do about the fact that a young woman being hurt in real life was the punch line”. And that’s a dangerous slope. Because, if and when he has another contest for a model, and if we jokingly called it a waifu contest, and young women who are fairly new to lolita enter because to them it’s always been an abstract joke, and one of them gets hurt… what do we tell her then. Is it still funny? Is it still a joke? And is it respectful to those girls in the past who have been mistreated by Mr. Yan to joke about their sexual harassment?

If someone else comes into the community and flirts and jokes, and touches young women inappropriately, are we going to write it off as ok? What if they are cosplaying Mr. Yan, does it become ok?

The last batch of pillow cases were $21 each, and they made at least 100 of them. The new batch is $3.33. Let’s assume that at least $10 of the $21 was profit. That means Mr. Yan made at least $1,000 USD off of selling himself as someone who sexually harasses young women.

Is that something we as a community should laugh about, should joke about, should encourage?

Just… think about it.

…and as always feel free to tell me your thoughts in the comments.