Content warning: drawings of skeletons and nudity, mentions of depression, suicidal thoughts, and death.
I finally have time to do a long overdue review of this beautiful artbook by Haenuli Shin that I have mentioned before~ I am not allowed to scan or share any of the pages inside, but I will do my best to translate the beauty of this into words.
Haenuli Shin is the creator of the Haenuli Lolita fashion brand, based in South Korea. Most of the style fits a cutesy or a royally beautiful theme, but this artbook, I believe, is the first of her darker themed items on sale with t-shirts and dresses based on the pictures.
In the package that I recieved, there was a sticker, mini artbook, and the actual artbook itself.
The sticker is essentially the full artwork on the cover of the two books. Haunting, is it not?
This is the mini artbook, included as a bonus for pre-ordering the artbook if I remember correctly. It contains only a few pages of the full book as a small paperback, but it is already so well made.
This is the full artbook. The title is shiny~ It is holographic rainbow~ But I am in love with the black background that so artistically contrasts with the picture.
I got my copy signed~ Inside are drawings that could be found on Haenuli’s Facebook page with two very special surprises that will take your breath away.
The pictures inside the book tells the story of HaeNuLi Shin and her experience with depression. The skeleton was the personification of her depression and the girl was Haenuli finding hope and comfort in her depression and her interactions with it. Many of the pictures on her Facebook and inside the mini artbook are humorous while everything in the full artbook was made with so much sorrow, that it hurts. The story is told in several chapters: Start again, Questioning, Promise of eternality (I think she might have meant eternity?), and But this is not our end.
One of the drawings that may be on Haenuli’s Facebook, is of the girl being encaged by the torso of the skeleton as it fits half of its skull upon her head with the words, “I embrace you,” above it. This is the girl coping and accepting her depression with love. It is a wonderful encouraging message.
I love it. I do not think I will be able to find another artbook that will draw me in as much as this one did. I could spend hours upon hours just going through the pages and crying my soul out. I recommend going to Haenuli’s shop and buying any of her artworks before they are sold out. You will never regret this choice as I certainly do not.
I have never been to a trained professional for any mental issues other than the one in middle school for my big surgery. I am in a psychology university program and I understand the outcome of neglecting those things. But, talking about these problems is a taboo within my family as it is among many other families.
“It will all soon go away. Do not worry.”
Those words have significantly shaped my childhood as mother always made sure I was always busy enough to not have these sort of thoughts.
“If you thinking things like that, then you are not working hard enough.”
This is my method of coping that I first use until I cannot handle it anymore. Pushing the problem to the side until it begins to bury me under its weight. The only time I did not first resort to this was when I was forced to memorize a three-page song for my practical piano exam. I always have had a short attention span for things that I should be paying more attention to, with a slight selective memory as well. During that time, I was crying throughout the entire night as I played the song over and over until I was all out of tears. I did not do well on the exam though.
But, I know I have upset my mother most when I told her, to her face which is the equivalent of spitting in her face, that I wished I was never born. She grounded me for a long time, made me kneel on the hardwood until I could barely walk, and I believe I was spanked as well? Either way, she was so impacted by those words that she still holds it over my head to this very day as an example of my stupidity and frequently told me that my sibling and I, each hold a half of her world. Without one or the other, her world would be incomplete. She does not say it as often anymore as we appear to be handling ourselves better now. But if only she knew, that I had been close to killing myself multiple times after I partly left her nest for university. I have become more emotionally unhinged and unstable after entering university. The stress, the disappointments, and the lack of constant physical encouragement in the form of my mother’s hugs soon became almost too much that I broke down and did things that I otherwise would never have done.
I have met so many wonderful people that I do not feel deserving of being near them. This is rooted in my traditional Vietnamese upbringing. I am not sure about most Vietnamese families, but those I have interacted with said that their childhood consisted of similar things to mine: being jokingly told that you were either adopted or found in the trash as a baby and no one else wanted to take you in, and ugly nicknames that were supposed to humble us. I am a very skinny person and was obsessed with putting youtiao, long breadsticks that we called giò cháo quẩy, into my congee. So, my nickname was giò cháo quẩy, long skinny breadsticks. My older sibling on the other hand was slightly more chubby than I was with a round face, so their nickname was bánh tiểu (round sesame bread). Yes, these are very strange nicknames a person would give their own children or grandchildren.
Sometimes these jokes and nicknames can backfire, like it did with me. I have a very low sense of self worth and the fact that my appearance is considered abnormal enough, to be called the hunch back of Notre Dame (children can be so innocently cruel!). I have jokingly considered how wonderful it would be to kill myself quickly and painlessly. But, holding items in my hands produced by other people’s periods of vulnerability allows me to be in their position for even a few moments, shows how lucky I am in this world to have what I have and to do what I do. Of course, this does not generalize to everyone in first world nations. But, as I continue to try to grieve for my late uncle and cope with life, I can take comfort in Haenuli’s skeleton.
All images are of the artbook “Their Story – Story You Don’t Know” By Haenuli Shin
Contact Information of HaeNuLi Shin