I didn’t grow up having Chinese women as my role models. In their place, I had the female faces of Disney Channel, world-famous pop idols, and the typical Western political figures. Not once, in my 20 years of life, did I question the homogeneity of my influence, or the simple fact that they represented an ideal that is not only unattainable to me, but also unrealistic and unrelatable.
The shift as to who I have as my role models was gradual, but a lot of years provided it enough time to work its way through. Lately, I’ve been watching Beyoncé slay the MTV VMAs, have been listening to Hayley Kiyoko’s latest single, have been enjoying Julia Cho’s character on The Lizzie Bennet Diaries… never would I have imagined this just ten years ago.
Diversity and gender equality have always had a political ring to it, and so despite my support and yearning for equality and representation, I have been in the quieter shadows observing all the movements and changes taking place. It wasn’t until last night that I could truly take in the diversity of the women I am exposed to daily in pop culture, and it was only starting from last night that I began to feel truly empowered by the women from all these different backgrounds.
Because they are more relatable. Because they are more like me. Because they face the adversity I have and will face just because my gender reads female and my skin tone depicts me as Chinese.
And they have made it.
Not only are they success stories, but they also empower and inspire. They spread messages of support, movements of encouragement. They are shifting the world’s focus to more women like them, women like us, women like me.
As a little girl, I wasn’t very confident. Perhaps having more women like her in pop culture would have given her more of a push to reach for her dreams, dreams that are not exclusive to people who have the privileges she doesn’t. Perhaps seeing women like her would have encouraged her. Perhaps a confidence boost was all she needed.
And maybe, just maybe, that’s what I need, too.
Blueaholic is listening to: Beyoncé feat. The Weeknd – 6 Inch
(She don’t gotta give it up cause she professional)