Los Angeles : The Plastic Mirage and Misunderstood Mecca

L.A misconceptions native

Before I start, I’d like to disclose that I have in fact lived in the Los Angeles area for majority of my life. For some my hometown roots might mar my opinion on L.A. And that’s okay. I’ll even acknowledge that often times we do in fact share a lasting bias to our city’s landmarks, neighborhood hole in the walls, and the passing people who inhabit the city. But I will argue this, what better observation is there than from the eyes of someone who knows the city like the back of their hands. As the title suggest, I do in fact consider the buzz of L.A life as a perfect balance between the stereotypical plastic image of scanty bikinis and melodrama we see so much of on reality TV, and the deeply misjudged epicenter of innovative individuals and untapped ideas.

Maybe we can blame the unfiltered reality TV shows for the misconceptions about L.A and why the city is continuously overlooked and over judged. But let’s be honest here. TV might have planted the seed but L.A has, in part, contributed to its semi-soiled reputation. How so? Take this point as example. Just a few days ago, I met a U.K family of four who’d come to L.A for an extended vacation. Having initially expected to find sun and palm trees, and casual hospitality, they only got the former. It’s true, one of the few steady things in California is the weather, but with global warming looming (yes people it does exist…even in sunny California) we shouldn’t count on that too much. But let’s save the global warming debate for another day.

So as I was saying, the family seemed destined to experience the 100-things-that-can-go-wrong in L.A. Not only did they get a cab driver who lead them on a roller coater ride of their lives and demanded they tip well, but were stuck with an uptight receptionist who saw them as the anti-Beckhams, and couldn’t be bothered to inform them of the surcharge for a roller bed. Sadly, the rest of their vacation went as smoothly as a visit to the dentist when it’s time to take out our molars. And here is where I simply shake my head with a quiet resignation that this lovely family will most likely never leave with a damning impression of the city, and if they do return to U.S soil, they’ll likely go to New York. And that wonderful readers is a very dampening thought to a L.A native.

Beyond The Popular Misconceptions

If I could count the many times strangers or new acquaintances have asked me whether life in L.A is always that over-the-top, I’d need more fingers. But the truth is my life and most everyone here is very much like every other person around the U.S, except maybe with sunny weather year-round. Surprising it seems, we don’t hit the clubs every weekend or have a plastic surgeon on speed dial. For the most part, we live fairly normal lives in L.A.

Despite the bad image, albeit true at times, there is a lot of redeeming qualities about L.A. But sadly these are often too overlooked and under shadowed by the juicy news of wild L.A celebrity parties and Kim Kardashian’s beach bod. And while there isn’t anything particularly a bad thing for some, it’s also not what makes L.A a great city.

Even longtime L.A residents like me can take the city for granted. It wasn’t until I lived in Chicago to get my masters that I realized how much a city can shape all our senses, whether it’s the smell of warm, baked rolls or the loud noises of cars honking away or even the way we create a place for ourselves in that particular city. So with this realization, I moved back to L.A with an open awareness of this city I’ve lived for most of my childhood and adult life. Street names and ethnic food no longer seemed so trivial. Instead, they were some of the City of Angels’ genetic makeup. And I couldn’t be happier.

Why? Because of our reputation or maybe despite it, we can in fact appreciate L.A as a melting pot. How many times have we L.A people trekked to Koreatown for some bulgogi or munched on al pastor tacos from a taco truck at midnight.  Or visit one of the many historical attractions or simply enjoy the numerous music and food festivals around the area.

But what makes L.A such a great metropolitan city is the active energy of the people and the endless possibilities here. There’s a little bit of everything here. It’s also the perfect place to be whoever you want to be or invent a better version of yourself. So whether you find yourself well suited in the fast paced hustle of the 9 to 5 crowds or mingling with other health-conscious individuals over raw juices, there’s a place for you.

Someone asked me the other day what is the L.A identity. At the time I had no clue. But I realized it’s the ambiguity of what makes up the L.A identity that we find our answer. There isn’t one. Sure there’s stereotypes, but when it comes down to it. We L.A natives are every bit of the melting pot of all these different cultures L.A proudly lays claim.

For some, the L.A lifestyle might not be their cup of tea. It might even be all their dreaded nightmares wrapped up in one. But for a L.A native like me, I take this city just the way it is.

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