March 8th marks International Women’s Day, a day dedicated to celebrating women and the movement for women’s rights. Over the past couple of weeks leading to this day, the Cold Tea Collective team collected responses from Asian womxn to hear about their unique experiences and shine a light on voices often missed in the mainstream.
We asked them about their inspirations, advice for their younger selves, and insight on the current opportunities and challenges that Asian womxn face in today’s world. Check out a few of our favourite responses.
What is inspiring you right now?
Inspiring me right now is envisioning the future I see myself living in the next 5-10 years. I’ve never been one to have a role model or look up to someone, but I’m always pushing myself to be better and to keep achieving my goals. I’m working on being my own biggest cheerleader because I think we are constantly pushing and doubting ourselves, and most of the time we’re our worst critics. Learning to love the life I’m living and counting wins each day is what’s currently keeping me going.
Professionally, I’m inspired by global plant medicine activists and healers, many of whom are being punished by outdated law systems for helping people heal through Indigenous plants and fungi. As the newly appointed Managing Editor of TruHavn.com, I’m hoping to tell more of their stories so we can reclaim our health and wellness and work with the natural world to better ourselves and the planet.
Positive manifestation, astrology, @silvykhoucasian, Sevdaliza, Marina’s LOVE+FEAR album, other Black, Indigenous and. women of colour and queer BIPOC, Booty Freedom, my loving partner.
*Updated note (March 9, 2021): Sunny identifies as non-binary, but still experiences misogyny and barriers to equity and safety because they are coded as a woman.
I have never felt more energized by the self-knowledge, community, and resilience that I’ve accumulated by my 30s. It’s inspiring to see the different paths my friends have taken on, and I am grateful for the depth of our relationships made possible only through time. Seeing their successes and journeys motivate me to continue carving my own path, and I believe the best years are ahead.
Books that have inspired me so far are Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World and Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis.
Moon Lilith Vang
Instagram: Moon Vang
My kids are my biggest inspiration. They are my drive to be better and kinder to myself and to others. My work reflects my passion to leave a legacy for the world to see, and that when they see it they can turn to my children and say, “Your mother did this for you.”
My family is definitely my inspiration right now! There are so many things out there that can negatively impact us on a daily basis, but they keep me grounded and going.
Lately, I have been finding TikTok very inspiring. There are so many different types of content on there from so many folks that are often underrepresented in mainstream media. The short video format means content can be more in-depth and showcase messages in engaging ways. It’s funny, stylish, beautiful, unique, creative — sometimes all at once! I don’t know if I’ll be creating content for TikTok anytime soon, but it’s refreshing to see so many creators that I may not have found otherwise on Instagram’s ever more restrictive and monetization focused algorithm.
Sydney Rae Chin
The movement started by many different sex educators, survivors, and advocates moving forward into a greater consent culture.
I always try to gain inspiration from literature and media that aptly serve my interests (fashion, art, and, most recently, the Korean “home café” aesthetic). But nowadays, I’m starting to look towards those around me, especially family and close friends. There’s a lot I can learn from each and every one.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self that university isn’t the be-all or end-all that will decide your fate—you won’t even end up getting your bachelor’s degree because you’ll realize that “prestige” is oftentimes disconnected from how the world actually works. Something else I wish I had understood sooner is that your family may never fully understand your more emotional way of moving through the world, but that’s not the point. The point is that they will make huge steps in continuously trying to understand, and that’s all you can ask for from anyone.
Facebook: Crystal Lee
I’d tell her to GO FOR IT. Often times as Asian women, we are in a constant cycle of pleasing our parents and bringing honor to our elders, but we need to step back and start pleasing ourselves. We need to start living a life for ourselves instead of for others. If I could see her again, I’d tell her, “F— college, go start that business you always wanted!”
I was always told I was too emotional as a child. If I could chat with my teenage self, I would tell her to not be afraid of those emotions, embrace them, and use them as your color palette to write music that connects and move others.
Isolation is never the answer. Don’t force yourself to stay in situations that take away from who you are as a person. Never settle for less and search for more opportunities. Communication is so important and is something that you need to routinely check up on!
I would tell my younger self to stop wasting time on people who will never really care about you or anything you do – particularly that one guy who I did not get over for the longest time. Just go do your thing, work hard, don’t let the bastards get you down, and you’ll be surprised by what you can accomplish if you just stay focused.
There’s more to life than what you see and know now, and you’re a better person than what your inner monologue keeps telling you. You have been and always will be worthy of being alive.
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Things will happen as they are intended. Don’t waste your time worrying what others might think, and stop making excuses for people who let you down. Also, stop cutting your own bangs.
Don’t be afraid of being alone and cutting toxic people out of your life, you’ll only wish you did it sooner. When you’re feeling lonely, fill your time working on what you love: acting, dancing, singing, and pursuing everything you’re interested in.
What do you think is the biggest opportunity or challenge for Asian womxn today?
Sami de Castro
Trusting our own voices. So many of us were taught and held to the standard of speaking with others in mind that we lose the sense of what our story and message is.
I think the biggest challenge for Asian womxn today is to find their voice. Whether that be in a personal or professional capacity, it’s something that womxn overall have been systemically discouraged or unwelcomed to do. The biggest opportunity for Asian womxn to overcome this and find their voice is to share their stories on platforms such as Cold Tea Collective and similar communities.
Sydney Rae Chin
For myself and perhaps others, it’s embracing my intuition in every aspect of life. I think we’re often told not to embrace it when in fact it’s one of the most powerful things we have. Adding onto that, I think it’s a challenge for Asian womxn to embrace their sensuality in whole without second-guessing themselves as we’ve had others define it for us rather than us for ourselves on our own terms.
Whether or not the “right time” is now. Progress will never happen if there aren’t people pushing boundaries.
As an Asian woman, I think we’re in a unique climate to have our voices heard and our stories told. Asian women have always been the backbone of anything that goes on. We pride ourselves on being the ones that can pull the strings. I think that results in a lot of us keeping our heads down and doing the work. I think the biggest challenge would be coming to terms with the roles we play and how we can embrace them more fully, with all the credit attached.
I think one of the biggest challenges that Asian womxn have today is how society sees us as lesser. It’s hard to be fully valued when the world thinks you are a straight-A doll without political power. However, I think that there is great potential for Asian womxn to use this reality to our advantage. Strike hard when the world least expects it. Society has not yet thought about building any serious competition when pitted against us because it has not yet learned to take us seriously. We are strong and resilient for having survived through so much oppression, so I think it’s time we put our amazing blossoming-dandelions-within-harsh-weeds selves to shine our unique light into the world when it least expects it!
Fetishization, being taken seriously in executive positions, being believed as survivors of abuse and sexual assault, and being able to create art that reflects who we really are instead of pandering to white supremacist heteronormative patriarchy.
I think the opportunity and challenge for Asian womxn are one and the same: Exposure and equity. In the past, Asian womxn haven’t had the same opportunities as others to tell their stories. This is changing with the evolution of traditional media and entertainment to globally-accessible online media, and demand from consumers of colour to see and hear more of their stories. Gender equity for all women is still a challenge, and Asian womxn need to work with women of all cultures, statuses, and abilities to raise ALL of our voices. We now have the technology to do this, and more people are gaining expertise in decolonization. We just need to have the desire to learn, collaborate, mobilize, and help each other to be heard.
In Hollywood, only 96% of films are scored by women. The percentage is so low for female creatives, let alone POC females. The biggest challenge is given a chance to be at the table to pitch for work, along with other fellow male composers.
Breaking out of the public perception of Asian womxn as “submissive” is both an opportunity and a challenge. It’s an opportunity to open up more possibilities to peers and future generations. The challenge is facing the backlash when you act in ways that people don’t expect, making them more sensitive and opposed to it. To understand that and stay firm in your stance, rather than giving in to the pressure you’ve been raised with to always be the one giving in for the sake of harmony, takes a lot of courage.
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