Hey fam! It’s your girl Jane here! I’ve recently shared my thoughts with you on self-care, travel and sensitive skin, but today is a special day because I want to talk about something personal and very real for me (and hopefully for you as well). I’ve thought about writing this story every.single.damn.day for the past 2 months but it’s been really hard finding the right words to express my thoughts…
These days, I’ve been asking a lot of questions about my place within the fashion and beauty world. Those of us hustling in the industry for the latest and greatest often ask ourselves what more we could be doing to help each other out? And beyond the people, the brands and the communities we choose to partner with, what is our larger responsibility as human beings?
The word “woke” gets tossed around a lot these days and I want to be careful about my phrasing here given my position at The Chriselle Factor. I am not an activist. I have not devoted my life to the voiceless. But what I do know is that I can 100% be a feminist and raise up my community while still loving beauty and fashion. These roles are not mutually exclusive; our existence is, by its nature, political. And so… I find myself asking this question daily: what more can I do?
A little background… I wasn’t ever really “into politics.” In high school, I was on the volleyball team, part of the journalism program, and actually hated any situation that led to a debate (translation: I had a deep fear of arguing and would avoid conflict at all costs). I grew up in a sheltered environment so life was pretty good (or so I thought). After high school, I moved to Newport Beach, which was great but it didn’t have much diversity if you read between the lines. I then attended UCI where I received a BA in Women’s Studies and became a proud feminist. (A mini shout out/deeply indebted THANK YOU to the women who came before me and all the strong women in my life right now — you know who you are. More on that later.) I eventually made it to LA, my home for 10 years now.
I remember the first time racism was significant and personal to me. I was 16, visiting Chicago for the very first time with my best friend. I vividly recall the guy on the shuttle who angrily asked me, “What are you looking at, Fook Me?” I was so shocked by his statement I couldn’t speak (The Jane you know now would have clapped back, don’t you worry.) I’ll never forget that moment. How could he call me that when he didn’t know anything about me? It was isolating, I felt powerless, and it was wrong.
I’ve experienced racism many times since then but that’s not why I’m writing this; my larger point is that there are so many people out there who experience this shit on the daily, those who are in far worse situations of injustice and inequality, those who risk their lives, and those who have lost everything in the process. And so I ask that question again, what more can I do? As a minority… as a woman… as a proud child of an immigrant family, what more can I do?
For one, I’m trying to actively gain more information. Agendas are getting pushed by policymakers and things are happening in our neighborhoods/work places/homes, and many of these things are creating divides in our communities. I’m trying to avoid jumping to conclusions as I look into things with more care and compassion. I’m trying to diversify my news outlets and seek out more underrepresented people/organizations when I have questions or lack knowledge about complex issues. Following activists, minorities and movements that empower marginalized groups has helped me keep an open mind and positively challenged my principals. Most of all, I’m trying to question authority and find out the truth for myself.
Another thing I’m working on: daily deeds and actions. Supporting a coworker. Volunteering once a month in DTLA — I recently handed out bags full of clothing, toiletries and food to the homeless with my friend Christine who runs We Are Lightwork. Standing up for equal pay. Being part of a “woke” group chat and keeping each other in check. I’m certain that “looking out for myself” is not enough so I’m working to love myself and love the people around me just as much. Women are stronger when we stand together.
It’s important to note that I’m a constant work in progress (we all are) and you know what? I’m OK with that. I don’t make it to every march or donate to every charity, but I give what I have when I can and I ask more questions now about my involvement and time. I think you can too: Are you maximizing your rights? Are you doing as much as you can to speak up for people who don’t have a voice? If you have a platform, are you using it to build people up rather than break them down? Are you showing up for things that matter or are you staying neutral because Desmond Tutu said it best: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
Uncomfortable conversations (or 10) are necessary. This can be difficult, but you’ll feel 100% better knowing that you’re challenging current power structures while striving for greater inclusion and equality. In the current political climate, I know a lot of us look to be “right” but we should look for what’s just. Many, many times I’ve been in one of these uncomfortable conversations and a heated debate opens up my eyes to a new perspective or a more nuanced understanding of intersectionality.
Bottom line, and what I know now more than ever, my parents did not leave their families in South Korea and raise me in the United States so that I would stand down during moments of injustice and be someone’s “model minority.” So, I’ve made the decision to show up and speak up for things that matter to me.
Whether you’re not politically active, or looking to become more active, I encourage you to put your voices into action as well. It’s all about baby steps! Pursue things that matter, especially if you’re a woman! Here are some additional things that I’ve been doing:
+ Marching/protesting for things I care about. I attended the Women’s March to thank all the women who paved the path for me to have a voice.
+ Donating to local shelters. Give/recycle your clothes, shoes, unused makeup, etc. Anything helps those in need and a little goes a really long way. The CINCteam and I donate to the Children’s Law Center of California where women who are trying to get back on their feet can pick a few free items (clothes and makeup included).
+ Helping other people (especially women) when I can with career advice/feedback. Using my knowledge in my field to build up others and help them when possible. Sometimes even meeting someone for coffee opens doors for them. We’re here to lift each other up, not compete with each other.
+ If someone targets an underrepresented individual/group, check them. Let them know that it’s not OK to use that type of rhetoric.
+ Supporting local and minority-run businesses. Try to read and educate yourself on the things that drive consumer patterns, know where things are made, and be aware of brands that profit from hijacking the work or culture of others.
+ Understanding that people use their platforms in different ways. Don’t be overly critical of individuals who have approaches that don’t mirror your own. As much as speaking up for something is important, listening is also equally important and the foundation for greater empathy.
An extra special shout out to my friends at KOI for hooking us up with some great, powerful merch with a purpose! You’ve taught me that anything is possible and am so grateful to be surrounded by such an amazing and diverse group of friends. Keep thriving!
That’s all! Thanks for reading this piece (I know it can be a sensitive one) and if you have any suggestions on how I can become more active as well, @ me below! Would love to hear from you.