by Raphy Mendoza
I’m incredibly fortunate to come from a family of formidable women. (Case and point – my mother as my business partner!) As a child, I never felt disempowered on account of being a girl.
But, as I grew up – as a Filipino woman in a white country – my experiences created a different narrative.
At school, at the pub, at the supermarket, on TV, on YouTube – everyone I looked up to, didn’t look like me. Nobody looked like me. Nobody sounded like me.
Because I have a weird accent and don’t understand slang, I’m different – maybe I’m not as smart as everyone else.
Because I have brown skin and everyone tries to guess where I’m from, I’m different – maybe I’ll never belong anywhere.
Because I’m a woman, people want to know when I’ll have children – not when I’ll launch my business. Maybe this world isn’t for me.
I’m different, and growing up I didn’t want to be. It was too hard to justify why I was different, why I existed, all the freaking time.
But when I look at the women in my family… they’re different, and they know it. And they own it and they own their choices, and that’s why they’re powerful. Because they’re different and nobody can take that away from them.
I’m a Filipino girl, and I chose to be a designer and business owner in a white world. I chose a less easy life in which… I’m different. And I’m bossing it.
In whatever avenue my choices take me, I want to be the Filipino girl that I didn’t see represented in the media so that people growing up now as ‘different’ can say ‘she looks like me – I can do what she’s doing.’
Then, maybe they can look at someone else who doesn’t look like them and say ‘I don’t look like them, I’m different. But I can boss it like they do anyway.’