We are excited to announce a new video series coming to Refinery29's YouTube tomorrow — Truth Told. We are bringing these news videos to life through a Google News Initiative grant and six amazing fellows. Read more about the fellows — in their own words — below.
I’m a full bred Filipina-American.
Brown and proud.
But from middle school up until high school, I wasn’t proud. I was embarrassed of my race, my culture, my skin. I didn't like how my family had thick Filipino accents, how they spoke Ilocano (one of the native languages in the Philippines) in public, and how loud and traditional they were. I didn’t want to be Filipino. (I know, so disrespectful.)
I remember telling my family and friends that I wished I was white, or at least half white. I had this stemming idea that white meant accepted. It meant beautiful. It meant people would like me a lot more. And I wanted all of those things so badly, especially as a pre-teen who had the expectations of social media growing up with her.
I was born and raised in Hawaii where brown was (and still is) the majority. But everything I saw on TV, on social media, and in movies were white women. I saw guys falling for the fair skinned beauties; “YouTube famous” girls who were white or lighter skinned.
I just grew up thinking white = pretty.
As I grew up, I realized this wasn't true. I realized how important my culture was, and how proud I should be to represent and embrace a place my parents left behind to give my brother and me a better life. I especially realized this when I left Hawaii to attend college in California. Attending a university that was 54% white made me appreciate Hawaii's diversity so much more. I continue to make it my mission to be the representation my 12-year-old self needed. Contrary to racist belief, not all Asians are the same. And I never saw anyone who looked like me online or on TV with a huge presence, and I want to change that.
This is my goal: to be a positive influence and role model for young women, especially those who are struggling with being seen or loving themselves. I want to represent and make proud the people of two islands I love — the Philippines and Hawaii.
(And to make my mom feel better I did not become a nurse like she originally wanted. She’s proud of me now, though, don’t worry.)
When I read what the news fellowship was, I immediately knew that this was something I wanted to be a part of. It’s a dream to be able to produce content with a platform like Refinery29 as a current student in college. I’m excited to both educate and entertain an audience who is just like me and to work and learn from amazing individuals in this company!