Women's History Month is about those who have made strides against all odds. In order to accomplish that, they needed to love themselves enough to believe in their power and gain inspiration.
Here are a few the women I know who are doing the same. May they motivate you to love yourself and recognize the inspiration that surrounds you.
On the woman that has inspired her:
My sister has always been a big inspiration in my life and such a great role model because at such a young age, she moved out and was ready to start her life, and made it look so easy regardless of what was really going on. She has always been there to life me up in times of need, and has taught me that no matter what life throws at you, you have to keep persevering through it all. She is one of the strongest and most empowering women I know!
I love that I am never afraid to speak my mind and stick up for myself. I think that is a characteristic every woman should have especially in such a male-dominated world. Gain that confidence, empower yourself, know that what you say matters, and don’t let others put you down and try to diminish your self esteem and confidence.
On the woman that has inspired her:
A woman in my life that has inspired me in a special way is my mom. She has showed me the ways of the world the good and the bad. She always showed and continue to show me to be nice to everybody, to not judge anybody, to accept everybody, and to love everybody. My mother always tells me to never say I look ugly, and to always accept myself for the way God made me. I am very grateful that she has taught and showed me these things and when I grow up and have a family of my own I will make sure to use all the things my mom has shown and taught me. She is a woman in my life who has inspired me in a special way.
One thing I love about myself is that I love to see others happy. Whether I have done something for them or they are just doing well in life, that is a sight I enjoy seeing. I could be from someone I love or someone I just met. Seeing other people feeling happiness brings joy to my heart. I feel this can impact other women/ girls in my life because if I can make them happy when they’re feeling down, they can realize what a change it makes on their life and they can start doing it to other girls. That is one thing I love about myself and I know that it can impact other women/ girls in my life.
On the woman that has inspired her:
I had lived with my grandma on my father’s side for my entire childhood until my family moved out when I was in the fifth grade. My grandma, who is now 82-years-old, is a cheerful, selfless, and independent woman. She loves to watch Korean drama shows, sing along to Chinese opera, or practice yoga in her favorite cheetah print pajamas and matching slippers. When my grandfather passed away, my grandma had to raise and support five kids by herself in Vietnam with very limited resources. The most important lesson my grandma taught me was to always give more than you receive. Despite the struggles and sacrifices she made to support her family, she always reminded me to put others before myself as they may not have access to the same opportunities I am fortunate to have. She taught me to be selfless, to always keep an open mind, and help others when they need it. My grandma made me understand the importance of hard work and the reward it comes with at the end, and I am so grateful to have such a strong woman to look up to. Every day, I see a little bit more of her in me, and I can only wish that I can be half the woman that she is.
On self love:
Growing up as an Asian-American woman, I never knew who was going to accept me or who would judge me based on my appearance. For me, I have experienced both the negative and positive effects that come with living in a society that lacks diversity, although the ones I remember most are the negative experiences. When I started to work at my family’s restaurant, this issue became more apparent, but I always told myself to “kill them with kindness.” I have grown to understand that not everyone in the world is going to accept you, and I think it is important that all women understand the importance of self-love. Every day I try to remind myself how proud I am of the woman I am becoming; for not letting the opinions of others affect my worth and the way I portray myself. I love how kind I am towards everyone, regardless of the way they perceive me, and knowing that a simple gesture can brighten someone else's mood.
On the women who have inspired her:
I am grateful that I have many women and girls in my life that have inspired me in special ways but my sister Asha is definitely one of the most inspirational. Not only is she hilarious but she is devoted, authentic and tenacious. Through her demonstration of these three characteristics, I have learned how important it is to embrace all that I am (personality, hobbies, goals, etc.) without worrying how others may perceive me because that could hinder me from being as successful as I could be.
One thing that I love about myself is my ambition. I hope that other women and girls in my life can see that I try my best not to let anything come in the way of my goals and I. Obstacles may arise but that is part of the journey and there is always a way to overcome them. I have learned to enjoy the journey because I can not reach my destination without it.
On the women who have inspired her:
As a woman raised by a single mother, I often struggle to find a role model more empowering than my own wonder woman. In countless essays and mother's day cards, I have thanked her and admired her ability to carry the too-often-criticized weight of two women in a world that diminishes us. She always encouraged me to embrace the creativity that she bestowed upon me and read as much as my heart desired. We spent hours at bookstores and dressed up like princesses to attend plays and musicals at the Bushnell. Soon I was looking up to the female protagonists navigating their adventures instead of looking down on at their stages and pages.
My favorite movie was always the Rodgers & Hammerstein’s version of “Cinderella,” portrayed by Brandy Norwood, the first African-American to portray the iconic role. She was a vision with a voice like liquid steel, flowing and cutting through the screen -- until I had to rewind the tape and fast forward through the previews again. Her city was colorful, adorned with faces and lavish clothing of every color. Whoopi Goldberg was The Queen, alongside an old white king (yawn), and their son was dashing and Asian. It was definitely a fictional dream of a world but it captivated me.
Brandy’s Cinderella would escape the abuse of her step-family by slipping between the pages of her novels. And in her first solo song, she danced around the kitchen, imitating the adventurous lives she envied. She felt she could not break free from servitude in real life, so she instead embraced the one path to freedom she was allowed.
Then Whitney Houston (who was a co-producer of the film) appeared in a vision of glitter and magic, come to inform and inspire. But Whitney’s fairy godmother did not babble nonsense at the young and impressionable Cinderella. “Bippity-boppity-boo” was replaced with: “Impossible things are happening every day!” And this gorgeous, talented woman sang to her ward saying there are many people with grand ideas and wide eyes and although they are called foolish, they are making things happen that were once “impossible.” Because what word is more dismissive than impossible. Throughout the song Whitney coaches Brandy, persuading her to sing along, and effectively answering the call for a strong and radical (and black) female role model in Cinderella’s life.
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s version of Cinderella showed me that as women we all need to embrace the world we have been given, and be unafraid to make it more colorful, push for impossible reforms, and remember that the women who dreamed and believed before us have laid the bricks we are walking on today.
(Side note: While writing this I learned that Whitney Houston was herself going to be Cinderella until she discovered Brandy. But Brandy would not star in the film unless Whitney, her idol, would be portray the fairy godmother. Also: The gowns in this film will *stun* you.)
I think one of my biggest strengths as a woman is my passion. I am passionate about living. I want so badly to follow every one of my dreams and develop every skill until I am an expert. This has often also made me sad. Because I can’t do everything and I am ridiculously terrible at decision making. But through this passion I have found that I can inspire others. I can pick some people up when they’re feeling down. I can find silver linings and spin them into gold. And laughs, there are always laughs when I’m around. I smile so hard my cheeks get red and I love to try new things.
I am constantly asking my friends and family about their passions and when I allow myself to feel their pain, excitement, and curiosity - my passion grows.
I have no doubt that my passion has allowed me to care for the whole world. To take on new adventures. To start impossible projects. To comfort strangers. To help people who have burned me in the past. To feel like the world is mine for the taking. And it is all because I am passionate about living. There is nothing that can stop me from doing so until I meet death himself. (And I know he’s a man because he’s stubborn and won’t change.)
I think this is why I have chosen career in journalism. Journalists are passionate about justice. They are focused on improving the lives of their community through the dissemination of information. I think of each day’s paper as a mini campaign for being the best you can be.
Our readers can find events, recipes, and book reviews in our pages. They can find summaries of lengthy and boring meetings and reports and make informed decisions about their government and lifestyles. Our readers can trust us because we are passionate.
I also think this is why I have made so many connections with other women and people in my lifetime of exploration. I listen hard. And I try to show that even if we only speak once or become lifelong friends, that my passion and compassion make me a worthy partner in any activity, even just waiting in line for coffee.
And when I am beaten down by the world, and told by my white male bosses that my ideas aren’t good enough, I find inspiration and rejuvenation in passionate women. The light of other people’s souls refreshes mine and pushes me up onto my feet. (After a few days of tears, pizza, and indie movies ofc).