One of the best nuggets of advice I've ever received was simply to "lean in".
I was struggling with a piece of work. My boss encouraged me to lean in to the discomfort I was feeling, to see if that helped me work through the challenge I was facing.
It did - by finding comfort in my discomfort I was able to get through that piece of work.
Whether it's Miss Singapore leaning into her platform to send a clear message about stopping Asian Hate, the founders of Droplet leaning into their heritage to create a delicious healthy drink, or Wangari Maathai leaning into local issues to make global change.
So, lean in, and let's get glowing!
Miss Singapore's Powerful Costume And AAPI Heritage Month
Bernadette Belle Wu Ong Sent A Clear Message Through Her National Costume At the Miss Universe Pageant
Her costume was inspired by the Singapore National Flag.
In describing her costume, Ong said "The red represents equality for all. White symbolises everlasting virtue. Singapore is a place for all races and they are very proud to be Asian. It sure would be great, to #StopAsianHate."
In a similar vein, Miss Myanmar - Thuzar Wint Lwin raised a banner towards the end of her walk that read "Pray for Myanmar." Her aim? Calling attention to Myanmar’s pro-democracy movement and to appeal for international help in freeing elected leaders who have been detained.
We love that both women used their platform to send a clear message against prejudice and violence.
What Does Asian American And Pacific Islander Heritage Month Actually Mean?
These eight artists shared their thoughts.
For rapper Saweetie, it's all about taking pride in who she is and celebrating the rich history and culture that her ancestors created.
Meanwhile for the sibling duo Lastlings AAPI Heritage Month is "a time to reflect and celebrate your culture and heritage. Celebrate our AAPI friends and families achievements.”
Journalist Simran Sethi has also shared her complicated relationship with AAPI Heritage Month. She points out that "we're far from monolithic".
At the same time Sethi appreciates that AAPI Heritage Month allows us to "connect to each other in a way that we maybe couldn't even do in our home place."
You Need To Read…
In honour of AAPI Heritage Month, we've rounded up our top five books by Asian American and Pacific Islander women authors. Get yourself ready for a whole bunch of binge reading:
- Frangipani by Célestine Vaite - This story focuses on a mother (Materena) and daughter (Leilani) relationship, and the challenges of raising a young woman in an ever-changing world.
- The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan - Four mothers, four daughters, four families, whose histories shift with the four winds depending on who's telling the stories. In 1949, four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, meet weekly to play mahjong and tell stories of what they left behind in China - aka, the Joy Luck Club.
- Iep Jāltok: Poems from a Marshallese Daughter by Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner - In this book, poet Jetnil-Kijiner’s highlights the traumas of colonialism, racism, forced migration, the legacy of American nuclear testing, and the impending threats of climate change.
- Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri - Whereabouts shares the story of a woman questioning her place in the world, wavering between stasis and movement, between the need to belong and the refusal to form lasting ties.
- White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht - The heartbreaking history of Korea is brought to life in this deeply moving and redemptive debut that follows two sisters separated by World War II.
- "I look too good not to be seen" ... the third and final season of Pose is officially lighting up your TV screen. Pose is all about New York City's African-American and Latino LGBTQ+ and gender-nonconforming drag ball culture scene in the 1980s and early 1990s.
- The Underground Railroad, Amazon's new series, is out now. We're adding this to our must watch list immediately. The series chronicles Cora Randall's escape from a Georgia plantation for the rumoured Underground Railroad - which is more than just a rumour.
- Leigh-Anne Pinnock from Little Mix has launched The Black Fund in the UK. The charity aims to empower Black communities and help Black people get into the creative industries. The Fund will provide finances and other support to charities already doing important work to empower black communities. “With the privilege and the position we have been blessed with, we’re going to do everything we can to see an end to racism in our time."
- In political news, Natasha Asghar is the first woman of colour elected to the Welsh Parliament. "We have no real political influential women of colour in Wales and I am honoured beyond comprehension to be the first one." Ashgar hopes to inspire a whole new generation of people of colour, by helping to diversify the Welsh Parliament.
- Meanwhile in Scotland, the first women of colour have been elected to the Scottish Parliament in its 22-year history. Kaukab Stewart is also the first Muslim woman to be elected, while Pam Gosal is the first member elected to the Scottish Parliament who is from an Indian Sikh background. The Scottish election saw a record number of women elected to the Parliament, with women now representing 45% of Scotland's 129 Members of Parliament.
- Over to beauty, Toni Ko, founder of NYX Cosmetics and Bespoke Beauty Brands shared her chefs kiss beauty routine. Aka, the beauty routine of our dreams! She shares her career story too, and we are here for her energy. “I’ve always said that I was going to stay single and make something on my own. I don’t know where that idea came from, but I’ve always said it."
Helping You Find Balance, One Droplet At A Time
Celeste Perez is busy woman, and has always had lot of projects on the go. But a few years ago, a stress-induced medical scare helped her realise she needed to find better balance in her life.
She started using adaptogens (herbs and roots considered a form of herbal medicine) to manage her stress and noticed a positive difference in her stress levels and overall health. Perez wanted to shared her secret ingredients for a more balanced life with the world but there was one catch: adaptogens aren't always the tastiest.
So she teamed up with Adrienne Borlongan, food scientist and founder of Wanderlust Creamery, to whip up some delicious adaptogen flavours. While working on their concoctions, both women leaned into their Filipino heritage, where food is medicine.
The end result? Droplet! adaptogen-spiked sparkling drinks with different flavours targeted for specific functions, like an immunity booster and a mood balancer for when you feel overwhelmed. Delicious and good for you, and a female founded brand - what a winning combo!
The Revolutionary Who Left A Lasting Legacy For Women And The Planet
Wangari Maathai was the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. This was one of her many firsts in a legacy of impressive achievements
In 1971 she became the first female scholar from East and Central Africa to take a doctorate (in biology), and in 1977 became the first female professor ever in her home country of Kenya.
Maathai also played an active part in the struggle for democracy in Kenya.
She established the Green Belt Movement in 1977. The revolutionary movement, centred around sustainability and women's rights, was well ahead of its time
The indigenous, grassroots NGO takes a holistic approach to development by focusing on environmental conservation, community development and capacity building.
Maathai was determined to fight the vicious cycle of environmental degradation and poverty. She understood that families struggling to meet their own needs often have to strip their own environment for resources, but when those resources disappear, families have an even harder time making a living—and even fewer chances to create a better future.
Maathai worked to ensure that her efforts to conserve land also led to employment and empowerment among the most vulnerable people, especially women.
Maathai's legacy lives on today, and her work continues to make the world a better place
Since being established the Green Belt Movement has planted over over 51 million trees!
Meanwhile, over 30,000 women have been trained in forestry, food processing, bee-keeping, and other trades that help them earn income while preserving their lands and resources.
The Movement's headquarters remain in Nairobi, Kenya and it has branches across 30 countries.
In the words of the Nobel Committee. Maathai was a woman who "thinks globally and acts locally." An incredible legacy!
One Lioness To Another
“Finally I was able to see that if I had a contribution I wanted to make, I must do it, despite what others said. That I was OK the way I was. That it was all right to be strong.”