Are you a woman of color in the blogging world like me?
Did you know in that 327 editions of Allure Magazine, only three front page covers have featured Asian women on them? (Source)
Did you know that the first Asian woman Lie Wen was featured Vogue’s cover in March 2017? Vogue has been around for over 125 years. (Source: CNN)
And did you know that Kelly Marie Tran (a major star from the Last Jedi) was the first Asian woman to be featured on the cover of Vanity Fair? Vanity Fair was founded in 1913 which means that it took over 104 years for an Asian woman to make it on the cover. (Source: Bustle)
I grew up leafing through these magazines.
As a young woman of color, I grew up consuming all the fashion tips, seasonal accessories, the advertisements for perfume or designer bags, and admiring models who lived lives worlds away from me.
I loved fashion but realized as a kid that my complex identity may not be worthy for the magazines, TV, or mainstream movies. As a Filipino-American, I grew up blending and balancing my two cultures together. I grew up with 2,000 Hail Mary parties (2/3 of the Philippines is Catholic) and also convincing my parents to let me join cross country, track, and gymnastics (sports culture is way bigger in America than it is in the Philippines).
As a Filipino-American/Asian-Pacific Islander, I didn’t see ME in those magazines.
I didn’t see my brown skin.
I didn’t see my petite frame.
I didn’t see a first generation Filipino-American girl.
A Woman of Color in the Blogging World
In college, I saw an opportunity to be seen, heard, and represented in the blogging world. I was so excited to sees bits and pieces of myself in Aimee Song (Song of Style), Daniela Ramirez (Nany’s Klozet), and Julie Sarinana (Sincerely Jules). While my journey has been slow and steady, I’m seeing my impact and finding my voice as a first generation Filipino American and woman of color in the blogging world.
For the first time in my life, I have the opportunity to share my perspective about explaining why my last name is Cortes. I can talk about balancing a creative journey with a master’s degree and a corporate career. I can talk about what trends to look out for. And I can’t believe it, but people stop to read, listen, and learn.
The first thing I’ve learned about being a woman of color in the blogging/fashion industry is that blogging has allowed me to be the representation I wish to see in this world.
At a recent blogging event, I had a young woman of color stop me and tell me she admires me because she can relate to me. She told me she loves that I work, I go to school, and I’m not a mom blogger (she said she didn’t have anything against them, she just wasn’t a mom yet so she couldn’t quite relate because she wasn’t at that life stage). I’ve had other women tell me how even though they love following other bloggers, they appreciated that I’m honest about my life outside of Instagram with my career advice and my life lessons blog posts.
I always wanted to see a tan skin, first generation Filipino American make it on the big screen, television, or modern day media in hopes of seeing that the Fil-Am voice and identity does matter in society. But I’ve realized that I can be that girl on my own platforms – Instagram, my blog, and other social media channels.
I don’t need a modeling agency, a television network, or the movie industry to tell the Filipino-American story because I realized I can do this myself. I can be the representation I want to see in this world.
The second lesson I’ve learned about being a woman of color in the blogging world is to embrace what makes you different.
In an Instagram world of extravagant vacations, designer bags, Instagram models, and daily brunch photos, we are all looking for people to identify with.
Embracing your identity and your unique attributes will help others relate to you and help you speak from a more authentic place.
While some of us are in college or grad school, many of us work 9 to 5s. While some of us are looking to update our wardrobes for the current season, some of us are trying to build positive relationships with our managers or starting new jobs. While some of us have the opportunity to pursue blogging or YouTube full time, many of us have side hustles. Regardless of where we’re at in life, know that what you do and what you’re inspired by makes you unique in life.
Advice: Are you embracing what makes you different? Are you making your differences a part of your brand? Have you asked yourself what makes you different? Or what makes you relatable?
The third lesson I’ve learned about being a woman of color in the blogging world is to not be afraid to take a stance and SHARE your unique perspective and differences.
One fear I faced early on in my blogging journey was that people wouldn’t care about what I shared. And more importantly, I feared that I would alienate people if I talked about politics, representation, or what it meant to be a first generation Filipino American college student.
Instead, I found that people appreciated a different perspective and that others could relate to my experiences. People do and WILL care about what you’re unique perspective because we are all motivated to connect, relate, and learn.
Advice: Whatever makes you tick, whatever unique perspective you might have, whatever passions fuel you, don’t be afraid to share them with the world. You can’t let the fear of people disagreeing with you discourage you from sharing who you are.
Let’s continue to support women and and women of color
While I do believe that social media has allowed more women of color from different cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds to be seen and heard, there is still an incredible yearning for more women of color to be represented. The fourth thing I’ve learned about being a woman of color in the blogging industry is that women and women of color need to continue to co-promote, collaborate, and work together.
I’m not saying that this isn’t currently happening. What I am saying is that it needs to happen more.
While I’ve done a few Instagram post where I’ve shared other women I admire, I’ve realize that I’ve never dedicated a blog post to the women of color I admire in the blogging world. So I’m going to take my own advice and call to action by letting you know a few women of color I admire today:
Color Me Courtney – I absolutely LOVE her colorful aesthetic. Courtney is based in New York and she makes me want to find all these colorful spots in NYC. She exudes happiness in her photos and she always gives me Instagram inspiration!
Aiko Cunanan – Aiko is one of the first Filipino-American fashion bloggers I started following. I was so excited when I learned she was also Filipino-American! Aiko has a clean, simple aesthetic and is based in LA.
Chriselle Lim – Chriselle is a power house – she’s a mother, a content creator, and a businesswoman. She launched a collaboration with Nordstrom this past year too! I hope to be a boss babe like her one day!
Wait what about you?!
These are just a few lessons and experiences I’ve learned on my blogging journey as a woman of color so far. I want to encourage you embrace who you are, what makes you different, and to continue to promote one another as women/women of color. And lastly, I encourage you to be that representation YOU want to see in the world.
We’re living in a remarkable time of history. The internet has paved the way for social platforms to rise and bypass traditional paths into media.
Artist don’t need to sign with labels to distribute their music.
Writers don’t need publishers.
And a 5ft tall petite woman of color doesn’t need a runway to be in fashion.
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Karya Schanilec Photography