【WHY NOT BOLD】Rebellious Marshmallow Girl – Interviewing Gigi Fong

In the summer of 2023, a sense of having lived through a whole century had settled in after the pandemic. Looking back to the days when social distance kept everyone indoors, some individuals diligently exercised to maintain their peak physical condition, while others found themselves gaining a few extra pounds due to their sedentary lifestyles. In this backdrop, there was a young woman sprawled on a couch, her gaze fixed on her reflection on the television screen. Yes, she had indeed put on a bit of weight. Meanwhile, scrolling through Instagram revealed a pervasive discourse about weight loss, exercise regimens, and dietary restrictions. The mounting pressure became palpable. In response, she decided to create an exaggerated version of a plump girl. As she gazed at this portrayal of a chubby figure, an overwhelming sense of liberation washed over her.

Her name is Canaan Fong, the creator of an illustrative character known as Gigi Fong. Some may also affectionately refer to her as Gigi (titles such as “lil sis” and “aunt” have been playfully attributed to her during her appearances on the Goomusic Podcast). Canaan is not only a writer, but also an illustrator, lyricist, and the coach of transformational game (which we’ll delve into later). She embodies multifaceted roles, each contributing a unique facet to her persona. However, she steadfastly rejects the notion of being confined within any single label. According to her, external appearances should never constrict the essence of one’s inner spirit. As she asserts, “Occupational designations are mere labels, what truly radiates is your individuality.” And thus, she crafted the phrase “A fearless rebel with a penchant for embracing her curvaceous essence, aiming to embrace her true self wholeheartedly” for her Instagram bio, an apt introduction to her being.

When people view Gigi Fong, they might assume that the character’s portrayal mirrors Canaan herself. However, the truth is that Canaan isn’t actually overweight, at least not to the extent one might anticipate. Yet, societal norms remain stringent (you know), often leading conversations to begin with comments like “you’ve put on weight” or “you’ve lost weight” upon reuniting with friends. Canaan strongly considers this a detrimental habit and encourages everyone to shatter this pattern.

Gigi consistently appears unclothed, unabashedly flaunting her contours to the world. Despite this exposure, she exudes an air of indifference, often with closed eyes, embodying a serene disregard for external judgement. Her body shifts in colour, mirroring her mood, oscillating between red and green. However, her vibrant crimson hair remains a constant, framing her countenance as she tilts her head, cradles her feline companion, or leisurely peruses her phone (which is perpetually attached to a charger, a detail that strangely provides a sense of comfort). Gigi Fong, at her core, transcends age and escapes the baggage of the past, unencumbered by societal expectations. As Canaan candidly shares, “Gigi Fong is boundless, she embodies my inner self more truly.” This profound connection empowers her to create with unbridled liberty.

Be my True Self

What does it mean to truly be oneself? “It’s precisely due to the resistance that the words “狠狠” (fiercely) come into play.” Growing up, family remained her primary anchor. Since her father’s passing at age ten, it has been her mother and sister who provided unwavering support. Their bond, marked by both love and rivalry, encapsulates the intricate relationship between mother and daughter. Amidst the shared roof of these three women, she stands as the one who unapologetically departs from the conventional. Inside her studio, a petite sculpture of Gigi Fong takes the spotlight, her hands striking a consciously asymmetrical pose, an emblem of her bisexuality. Her career journey defies traditional routes. Following her formal education, she deftly interwoven part-time work with her creative pursuits. It was only in May of this year that she embraced a full-time freelance career, boldly charting her own course. At one juncture, she boldly flaunted vibrant pink hair. However, her mother, wary of potential misconceptions within her sister’s marital home, hesitated in introductions.

If my mother can’t understand this during her lifetime,
I might as well wait for the next one.

From the author’s note of 《海水停在你背上癢的地方》(Arthur: Canaan Fong)

Navigating life as a compliant and dutiful daughter might not seem too challenging, after all, society and family have laid out their well-established guidelines. While it might appear tedious, there’s a certain comfort in adhering to these known paths rather than venturing into the uncharted. It was during her year as an exchange student in Canada that Canaan truly broke free from her familiar environment, stepping into what she terms her “second life”. This experience revealed the vastness of the world and the multitude of possibilities she had. Yet, as options multiplied, so did the need for decisions, leading to contradictions, conflicts, and a sense of unease, ultimately contributing to life’s intricacies. It was in this time that Canaan realised her former self had been constrained within the boundaries dictated by others, a realisation that marked her emancipation from societal conventions.

The phrase “be yourself” is echoed by many, yet living for oneself often teeters on the edge of selfishness. Navigating the balance between these aspects is no simple feat. “Opt for disappointing others over coercing yourself.” she suggests. Canaan made a conscious choice to concentrate on embracing her genuine self. Gradually, she discovered the universal law of attraction, by fully embodying her authentic self, like-minded souls would naturally gravitate towards her. As years passed, criticisms about her decisions being “wrong” or “inappropriate” became all too familiar. As a response, she published a pictorial narrative titled 《你說不對》, using a blend of words and imagery to emphasise the liberty in being true to oneself. Looking back, isn’t it the height of self-centeredness to impose our personal standards on others? Who holds the authority to pass judgement on whether one is right or wrong?

Gentleness is the Ultimate Superpower

If everyone possessed a unique superpower, Canaan’s might just be the “Power of Healing”.

In the era following the pandemic, as we embraced the virtual world of Zoom and remote work, oddly, face-to-face interactions seemed to trigger more anxiety. Gigi Fong nurtured a circle of close friends, affectionately known as the “Gigi’s Friends”. Over the past couple of years, on the 15th of each month, they gathered on an IG page called “Gigi’s Room” to converse. It became a safe haven, a digital retreat where they poured out their worries and musings, crafting a cocoon of companionship and restoration amidst the virtual landscape, a place where offering healing to others became a means of healing oneself. Rooted in her childhood love for writing, she had a habit of jotting down her own motivational quotes. As she matured, these self-affirming phrases transformed into what she termed “Self Love Cards”. In her own words, “All healing initiates within, healing oneself is where it all begins.”

Here’s how the “Self Love Cards” are intended to be used:
1. Draw one card every day as a personal reminder.
2. Reflect on a recent concern or burden, then select a card for a dose of inspired guidance.

Have faith that this world is ultimately more beautiful than it is daunting.

“Self Love Cards” Canaan Fong

Life as a Transformation Game

Canaan, wearing her roles as a creator and a healer, embodies yet another facet of her identity: that of a guide in the Transformation Game. The Transformation Game is a soul-nurturing board game, often described as a delightful route to explore both oneself and others. Players embark by selecting a life challenge or dilemma, setting a thematic backdrop, and then manoeuvring their game pieces along their unique life trajectories on the game board. At its core, this tabletop game places a strong emphasis on the sharing of personal experiences and thoughts. Its essence lies in the interactions among players, fostering a climate of support, compassion, and mutual motivation.

As we share, Canaan quietly keeps records.

From the initiation of “Gigi’s Room” to assuming the role of a guide in the Transformation Game, Canaan has consistently held the belief that the connections between people are the cornerstone of love.

During a gentle afternoon, we convened within the intimate space of “Gigi’s Room” to embark on our inaugural journey with the Transformation Game. The summer sunlight filtered through the window, leaving a delicate warmth that caressed us. This is the very place where Canaan often wields her brush, and here, she has borne witness to the evolutions of countless “Gigi’s Friends”.

May you continue to emanate a comforting presence, extending the wide embrace of Gigi Fong to envelop even more souls in the future.

Gigi Fong’s IG: gigifongbemytrueself

Gigi Room’s IG: gigifongroom

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