“Weird.” “Different.” “Ugly.” These were the words spoken to me at my picture day in 3rd grade. Little 6 year old me wore a qipao because my mom told me it would look beautiful. I believed her. My classmates didn’t think the same. I remember feeling alienated in that clammy auditorium, shunning my own identity. I hated my mom for lying to me and I hated myself for believing her. It was that day I started hating myself. Looking back now I wish I never thought like that. I wish I had never let the roots of self-hatred grow so early and worm their way so deep into my heart. I wish I didn’t spend years of my life desperately trying to claw my way out. I wish I didn’t hate my mom. I wish I didn’t hate myself. Although I’ve become confident in my identity now, sometimes I put on a qipao and look in the mirror and wish I could relive that moment in 3rd grade in that clammy auditorium.
Liz Zheng is an award winning artist and student at Upper Dublin High School. She spends her free time painting, visiting exhibits, and exploring different corners of the city with a camera in hand. Recently, her work focuses on capturing unconventional ideas and sometimes taboo visuals, specifically to tell stories from her and other unrepresented voices in her community. Ultimately, she believes in the power art to help reclaim forgotten narratives and increase awareness about marginalized individuals.