Woman of the Month: Rachel Tan

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Since the start of our Woman of the Month series, many have asked us, “How do you select the women that you feature?” To put it simply, we are looking for women that exude strength, humility, individuality, uniqueness, and passion for whatever it is they do.

Rachel fits the script to the T. When we first connected with her, Rachel’s eagerness and admiration for our organization was so refreshing. She came with a multitude of ideas to help us launch further into the direction of our goals with her knowledge as a well recognized and respected Writer (Raaachem.com).

In addition, Rachel’s spirit is addicting. Her welcoming and warm attitude defines who she is before she even utters a word. And as she proceeds to speak words of wisdom via her life experiences and profound insight, she pretty much let us immediately know that we wanted her on our Team. See, Rachel knows victory, but she also knows loss. She knows what it is like to lose a child, to battle cancer, to experience divorce. But Rachel is still standing, and she inspires us and so many others to keep fighting because we all have a specific purpose to serve in this world.

Rachel is a Writer-and a fabulous one at that. She writes about love, heart break, motherhood, loss, and gain. She is heading operations of the diversity focused lifestyle brand- Mixologi (www.mixologicity.com), one of the most genius movements to ever hit the Bay Area. This team focuses on bringing attention to their distinguished tag line ‘The Art of Diversity” through various events that bring good people, good music, good everything together, to describe it accurately.

While Rachel has immersed herself in such creative and remarkable projects that have captured the attention of numerous dedicated followers including ourselves, we are most moved by her role as a Mother. Rachel understands the definition of being a mother, and recognizes that though the title is not an easy one to wear, it is indeed an honor and privilege to hold. We honor you, Sol Sister Rachel Tan, for all of the work that you do professionally (we didn’t mention that Rachel too, has a day job on top of eeeeverything else), and for the heart that you have shared with us so intimately and personally. Thank you for allowing us to explore the beautiful, incomparable, you.

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1. Describe what your ethnicity means to you. How has it molded you as a person? What are the difficulties/challenges associated with it?

 One word – Family.  I went to a predominantly White school, with Korean and Fijian best friends, so growing up, the only thing I knew about being Filipino / Chinese was my family experiences.  From my tightly knit nuclear family, to my extensive extended family, I learned everything.  How to cook, how to love, how to forgive, how to work.    As I grew older, and aligned myself with friends who shared the same ethnicity as I did, our circle of friends became an extension of family for each other.
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Constantly being around people, I’ve found myself having a hard time being alone.  In our culture, in our house, it’s family over everything.  So even when I’m pursuing things that benefit me individually, I always stop and think how this will affect my family too.  Currently, I’m in a position where I am helping my family out a lot, which satisfies my soul and my need to show them love.  However, I feel like I’ve put myself and my needs on the back burner because of it.  It’s a struggle to find a good balance.

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2. Describe what it means to be a woman in today’s culture? What do you value/love about being a woman? What is the most challenging?

In July of 2009, I posted this on my little blog: http://raaachem.com/2009/07/20/kind-of-woman/

Sicker than your average, I walk around with my head high, kind of woman. Not because I’m full of it, full of shit, or think I’m better than the rest, but because I know who I am and I’m proud to be, a woman.

Far from average, I handle business on a daily, kind of woman. On the grind, on a mission to provide, for everyone, kind of woman. Take one good look, because that’s all you’re going to get; no time to slow down for anything, woman.

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This post spoke on the beauty I felt as a woman, the value I felt in the title.   But as I grew older and wiser in the years that came, I started to understand more the contradictory life I had to lead.  I was too much, and not enough, at the same time.

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The struggle to define being a woman today is something I continue to wrestle with.  My mother came to this country in a era where femininity was being rewritten:  where women were working, voting, and going to the moon. My mother was the keeper of the family, the caretaker of friends. She worked a 9-5 job, was independent in her relationship with my father, yet smothered her 2 children with all the love she cold bare.  She told me I could be anything.  Instead, I heard that I have to be EVERYTHING.

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I think this is a common state of mind with women my age, who feel like we have to get good grades, make good money, and do it better than the boys.  I must save the world, be my son’s hero, my boss’ rockstar.  I have to fight cancer, and all of my friend’s battles too.  Not to mention, be beautiful, stay fit, keep my nails painted and my hair colored. I must be perfect, and I must make it look effortless. 

The most challenging thing about it is, I’m exhausted.  It’s exhausting.  

3. What are your greatest motivators to keep pressing forward and achieving your goals?
 
I have one motivator,and his name is Adonis. 6 years ago, my son came into my life tumultuously and spectacularly. Everything else fell away, and everything I do now is to solely make sure he has everything he needs.

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4. What are your greatest fears and/or hindrances that get in the way of moving forward in your goals?

My only fear is of not trying. I have never been afraid to fail, but I’ve always been afraid of things I won’t try. I have a lot of responsibility as a 30-year old single mother. I also help provide for my immediate family, and although it’s a lot of responsibility, none of it is a burden. If I can’t be at the top with my people, I don’t want to be there.

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5. In thinking about society’s pressure to conform to the “ideal woman,” what does she look like to you? How does that make you feel? Do you ‘qualify’? Where do you ‘fall short’?

I think  I touched on a lot of this in my answer regarding being a woman.   I don’t want to be the ideal woman, I just want to be the ideal me.  It’s taken me a long time to realize that, although it FEELS like a competition, it isn’t.  The ideal me, looks just like this, at this moment.  Tomorrow’s me may look different, and I’ll be perfectly perfect then, too. 

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6. You are a huge inspiration to so many women, young and old reading this. What would you want to say to adolescent girls entering into a world of harsh and FALSE expectations?
 Your heart never lies to you. Get to know yourself well enough to hear it speak. You’ll quickly learn what you can expect from yourself.

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Thank you for reading and supporting our Sol Sisters organization. Our website is almost done and will launch in the coming month. Until then, take note from our featured Sol Sis: Be Yourself. Everyone else is already taken.

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SPECIAL THANKS

Photographer: Judy Galvez

Hair: Dana Marlise

Makeup: Christine Shayesteh

Wardrobe Styling: Fre Crawford/Aleli Crutchfield

Creative Direction: Christine Shayesteh/Aleli Crutchfield

Announcing our very own Sol Sisters Jewelry Line by Tiffany Perreras

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Thank you all for your Love and Support.

Peace, Love, and Sol

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Happy Day of Thanks and Giving 2013

Greetings and Feliz Dia de Gracia!

This is my third annual blog of thanks, and let me tell you, I anxiously awaited the day I could write and post this.

If you’ve been following my Instagram account (@solsischris), you may have seen various posts through out November featuring what I am grateful for. What I have come to realize through out this experience is, I have SO much to be grateful for. To be quite honest, it has been difficult  choosing just one photo to post to represent what I am grateful for each day!

What we must grow to understand and be forever mindful of is, we must  intentionally seek goodness. We have so much to be grateful for, big and small. The beauty in being grateful for the small, simple, basic things is that we will then find more large-sized blessings coming our way based on our appreciation for the small noticings. Don’t believe me? I have had the best month and year of my life because I have worked so hard on staying present and giving thanks for every aspect of my life. I believe you can do this too. With that said, I’d like to share  with you some of the high lights of my year that display so much of what I have to be grateful for. Walk with me.

FRIENDSHIP

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I am so grateful for the friendships I have established and maintained over the years.But the friendships I have gained this year alone have brought me fullness and joy that I have never experienced before. I know I don’t have photographs of all of those that I call Friend, but please know, your friendship, loyalty, trials, victories, support, laughs, smiles, attentiveness, creativity, presence, inspiration, Love, and personal successes are both honorable and appreciated. I am grateful for you and can only hope that I am a Friend to you in the same respect.

FAMILY

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Sure, being thankful for family may seem cliche, however, have you MET my family? Only a few are featured above, but I truly have the most beautiful, strong, faithful, tight, and loving family. As a result of all of you, I am motivated to work harder, serve more, do good, inspire others, pray faithfully, and value relationship.

I am so proud of my cousins whom I consider siblings since I have none biologically. Y’all are so awesome. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for you next!

In case you haven’t noticed, I am obsessed with my Mother and Grandmother. They are the epitome of strength and love. I also continue to honor the life of my Grandma Maria Sanchez. Three years have gone by but there is not one day that passes that you are forgotten. Te quiero siempre.

I also honor the life of the beautiful Julia Barron, my Tia who passed away this year. I am grateful for her example of Great Love and unshakable faith in The Lord. We love you and will miss your singing at Christmas this year.

TRAVEL

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 Travel has become a priority in my life over the last few years. I promised myself that I would do one international trip each year (So far I’ve done Italy and Cuba, not including childhood trips). This year I was unable to do so (who knows, there’s still December! lol) but I AM grateful for visiting Chicago, an incredible city with incredible views and rich culture. Not to mention, the best pizza ever invented. Thank you to those that made my trip oh- so memorable.

I was also blessed with the GREATEST Vegas trip to date! The Bachelorette Takeover was SO REAL! We enjoyed lavish nightlife, great, overpriced food, and even better company. Congrats to Krysy on her marriage. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your bridal party!

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I also had the best time visiting friends  the SoCal/Los Angeles area a few times this year. I always treasure going back down to reminisce on the years I used to live there as a young, adventurous college student. Now, I find value in making new memories in familiar places.

Some new memories include the opportunity I had to do makeup for the Miss California Pageant at the beginning of this year. That LA trip was a prelude to the rest of a mind blowing 2013!

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I am grateful for the many opportunities makeup artistry has brought me over the years. And though I am not as active with it as I once was, it has paved the way for  me to take a chance on following my ultimate dream…

SOL SISTERS

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Sol Sisters is my ultimate dream come to life. As a makeup artist, I have seen the world of fashion, beauty, modeling, photography, and the arts as a whole come to life and I must say, it is AWESOME. On the flip side, I have worked in the area of mental health where issues of eating disorders, low levels of self-esteem, unrealistic expectations of self, self-harm, and even suicidality are present-NOT AWESOME.

Sol Sisters is my attempt, along with so many other world changers, to change the outlook of beauty in our society. Women-we are courageous, strong from the depths of our core, overcomers, beacons of light, givers of life. We are SISTERS.

There is a lot of work to be done in order to combat the false representations of women in  our consumerist, objectifying and degrading society. We are doing it though! And doing it well-by combining creativity, unity, and support (including our fabulous male advocates).

Thanks to all that have contributed to Sol Sisters thus far. THERE IS SO MUCH MORE TO COME.

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THE HUSTLE

I could complain about how I wish I made more money at this stage in my life, and I know I have before, but when I stop and reflect, I am truly grateful for being able to work in different areas and develop invaluable skills while I am working towards my license in Marriage and Family Therapy. Between teaching Zumba, being Social Media Consultant for the best Cuban restaurant in the bay, Cana, and continuing with makeup gigs, I am a happy working Queen Bee! I hope others, especially women, are encouraged in the knowing that we may not always have it all together, or be in the particular position in life that we are expected to be in, but as long as we work hard and do what we LOVE, the exchange will be well worth it while on this journey towards excellence.

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MY LITTLE BLESSINGS

If you know me well, you may have discovered my lack  of desire for a pet other than one that swims in a bowl and can take care of itself. But this year, little Simba, mighty King of the Jungle stole my heart.

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I am grateful for him teaching me how to take care of someone else other than myself. And for coming home and enjoying home, when I would tend to run away from the calmness and quiet that would force me to reflect over my life-something I had avoided for along time due to so much stored up hurt and pain. As a result of you, little Simba Bear, I am comfortable being me, wherever me goes.

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Kaliah is my number one baby, she always will be. I am sad that since my recent move, I have not seen her as much. I am grateful to be HER Godmommy. She is an amazing child. I am so proud of her, and grateful for all she’s taught me. Ask me what I want to be more than anything-and I’ll answer you without thinking twice. A Mother. I don’t know if anyone is really ever fully prepared to be a parent, but I do know that I  have learned so much of what kind of mother I hope to be as a result of my love and admiration for Kaliah. I know my day will come, and I’m hoping that will be soon. But in the meantime, I am appreciating all of life’s lessons and opportunities to exercise my mothering skills. Some come naturally, and others have been learned. All have been extraordinary.

THE MOVE

This year, I had the best news come my way-a chance to move to the best city in the world, at least we tend to think so here in the Bay-San Francisco!

I must admit, leaving what became so comfortable, yet so haunting due to so many memories (some wonderful, some devastating) was incredibly difficult. Nonetheless, I have never been happier in my new home, with a fabulous roommate, and Love circulating through out the hallway and rooms, especially our humungous kitchen.

Not only is my home a blessing, but just being in the middle of a city filled with my favorite things is a joy.

Art, particularly graffiti art and colorful murals representing the richness of diversity and culture San Francisco holds, can be located on almost every street corner. With delectable food, an incredible music scene, and not to mention, a nine- minute drive to work, my move to San Francisco has been a true confirmation that I am one step closer to my dreams.

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Last but not least, this move has allowed me to spend more time at my primary work place where I am a school-based mental health provider. This year, I have had the privilege of working more intimately with the school body as a whole, challenging them to share their opinions on things that matter to them-education, self-esteem and body image, relationships, etc. What an honor it is working with young people. Thank YOU for teaching me so much. You always have my support. Press on.

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HIGHLIGHT: I also had the privilege of meeting my favorite hip hop artist of allllll time, Common, not once, but TWICE. I really wish I had a better photo of us (well, he looks fine per usual, I needed a spruce-me-up lol) Thank you Milo, Michael, and all the fabulous folks I get the honor of rollin with to have experiences such as these!

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 LOVE

At the beginning of the year (January 1 to be exact), I read a little one of those “predictors for the new year” posts, where I was predicted to have 3 things in 2013: Healing, Freedom, and Love. Now I’m not one to follow horoscopes or other attempts to predict what may happen in my life, but what I did notice with this information is that I actively pursued healing and freedom from my past as a result, and was eager to welcome new love.

I am grateful that without sharing too many personal details about the process, I was GIFTED healing and freedom from a very painful part of my life that I had been fighting for the past few years.

Surprisingly however, I was under the impression that Love solely meant romantic love. So I found myself actively looking for WHO this love might be. Now that the year is almost over, I have not found the romantic love that I thought was going to be mine this year. But what I have found, is that “Love, actually is, all around.” See, our culture tells us that the only love that matters is romantic love. But I am finally understanding that just because I am not in a romantic relationship does not mean that I am not worth loving, nor am I not able to love. I have found Love in all that I have stated above, and then some. And I have given Love freely, without expecting anything in return. That is true freedom.

In fact, we were made to Love (shout out out to John, the Legend).

Now that I understand more about myself, accept myself more as a whole woman, not seeking love from men that cannot provide me the love I seek if I do not love myself most, I believe I am prepared to receive the romantic love that has been destined for me.

And in return, I will freely give the love that I have saved for the one that deserves all of me. I patiently wait for you. I am grateful for you, love.

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I am grateful for you, readers, supporters, visionaries, creators, lovers, fighters. We all have so much to be grateful for.

The year is not over yet. Let us continue to count our many blessings, to give thanks in ALL circumstances, and to Love as God loves us. Free Love. Unconditional Love. Great Love.

Blessings and Light,

Christine.

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Woman of the Month: Camille aka DJ CAM CON

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Friends, meet Camille, our first chosen Woman of the Month. From the moment we met Camille, we knew that she had the exact qualities  we were looking for when we came up with the concept of highlighting dope women of color in the Bay Area. Of course, without a doubt, Camille is a knock out. In addition to her outer beauty, her character, state of mind, warm and welcoming spirit, and hard-working attitude provides the makeup for a deserving Woman of the Month feature.  Camille, otherwise known as DJ CAM CON, has a professional career in Law (awesome already, right?), and by night and weekend, she brings you the freshest sounds at the most popular venues in the Bay. So please, get to know her a little. We are grateful for Camille taking the time to share with us her deepest opinions and outlooks on her experience as  a young woman of color. Be inspired. Camille, thank you for your participation. It was an honor to work with you as it is a pleasure to know you.

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1.    Describe what your ethnicity means to you. How has it molded you as a person? What are the difficulties/challenges associated with it?

I became familiar with ideas of race, identity and heritage at a very young age. As a mixed girl, I don’t look as white as my mom, or as black as my dad. I fall somewhere in the middle. Ever since I can remember I’ve gotten questions about myethnicity. The more inquisitive (or less polite) folks approach asking “Where are you from?” or “What are you?” Growing up I was brown-skinned with short curly hair. My mom would take me out to the park and people would say, “What a beautiful baby. . . whose is it?” My background might be a mystery to folks outside my family and friends but, I’ve always felt incredibly special and lucky to be mixed. I represent both sides.

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When people don’t know “what ” you are, you’re identity is constantly challenged. I get  “You’re not black!” “I always thought you were Mexican?!?!” “Wait. . . you’re not Persian?” It’s frustrating and offensive to someone who identifies so strongly with who she is. For me, ethnic identity is a highly nuanced concept. I know who I am and where I come from. I try not to worry about other people’s perceptions.

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 My mom’s family is from Northern Italy, they immigrated to the United States after WWI.  My dad is a 3rd generation born Oakland boy, and my mom has always said I should run for Mayor of Oakland one day because our ties run deep in The Town! (I think she’s only half-joking ). I have a big extended family, both sides. My parents, step-parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins; we’re all mixed up. Italian, German, African American, Native American, Mexican, Chinese; you name it- I’ve got it in my family! My family has made me into the strong-willed, quirky, confident person I am today. I’m proud of my background. To wax poetic – “I am large, I contain multitudes.”

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2.    Describe what it means to be a woman in today’s culture? What do you value/love about being a woman? What is the most challenging? 

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There’s a common quote in feminist literature “men are instrumental, women are ornamental.” Although times have certainly changed, I think the quote still rings true today. Most women will tell you that every day they feel pressure to get rid of problem areas and heighten their attributes; whether it’s not eating, dieting, working out, primping/preening, disguising, perfecting, etc. What’s worse is that no matter who they are, the quickest way to insult a woman– to take her down a notch –is to attack her physical appearance.

 I love that I have the freedom NOT to be “pretty” all the time. As a “modern woman” we have the choice to be noncompliant with traditional standards. Working in both the tech world as a consultant, and the music world as a DJ, I definitely play up to both sides. I work in a mostly male environment. In the office, it’s all engineers. I never do my hair, never wear make-up, dress very casually. . . I think “pretty” is a skillset. When I DJ, I like to dress up, do my hair, wear eyeliner, get all shined up. I also enjoy the bonding opportunities “beautifying” yourself creates with other women; the rituals. _MG_0907

3.    What are your greatest motivators to keep pressing forward and achieving your goals?

My parents, family and friends are my greatest motivators. Call it what you will: blessed, lucky, fortunate. I feel all of these things. I have an amazing support system of people in my life. It’s an incredible motivator, when you’re surrounded by so many people who believe in you, and think there’s nothing you can’t do! This coupled with the fact that I’m an extremely competitive person. It may come from a lifetime of playing competitive sports, but I’m always thinking of ways I can improve. I think it’s my best and worst quality—I know there is always a way to do something better than you’ve done it before.

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4. What are your greatest fears and/or hindrances that get in the way of moving forward in your goals?

For me, it’s a fear of the unknown that gets in the way of me moving forward. As I get older, it’s hard to throw caution to the wind, and take big risks. Also, being comfortable. Sometimes when we reach a certain level or success, be it work related or personal – we get complacent. I try and find ways to push myself out of my comfort zone.  _MG_0828-Edit

5. In thinking about society’s pressure to conform to the “ideal woman,” what does she look like to you? How does that make you feel? Do you ‘qualify’? Where do you ‘fall short’?

Society’s pressure to conform to the “ideal woman” only points to what’s on the outside. Being pretty is a box we must always be ticking off or striving toward—it doesn’t really ever go away, it begins at birth. The idea that women should be free from these considerations is a pretty recent concept. _MG_0916

 I was not raised in a house where physical appearance was important. My parents are pretty progressive, a little radical.  They raised my brothers and me with a lot of positive reinforcement, very little focus on our appearance. As a kid I definitely felt pressure to dress a certain way and keep up with trends. I always wondered why my aunts and uncles would urge their daughters to dress up, enter beauty pageants, try out for the cheerleading team—my parents almost discouraged me from these things. Instead of hearing, “You’re so pretty” “Look how beautiful you are” I would hear “You’re such a good student” “Such a good girl” “ You’re great soccer player” “You’re so funny!” They discourage me from focusing too much on the external.  Beauty fades- at the end of the day, what else do you bring to the table? I’m still to trying harness my own authenticity– it’s an ongoing process. I want to be able to have my critiques of the ridiculous standards women are held to. But I still want to engage and benefit from that standard. I think it’s time we make up our own rules.

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6. You are a huge inspiration to so many women, young and old reading this. What would you want to say to adolescent girls entering into a world of harsh and FALSE expectations?

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I find it hard to give advice to young girls without it sounding like some self serving clichéd narrative. We all have a plan of how we think our life is going to be- and that plan always get’s off track.  When I graduated from UC Berkeley as an undergrad, I thought I was on a success track. The plan was, Law school, become a lawyer – POW –  I had it all worked out. After college I had an opportunity to move to Europe for a couple years. When I came back from Europe and started Law School at USF, I was miserable. I wasn’t engaged with the material and I soon realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I took a leave of absence before my 3rd year started. I spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself, upset that I had not met my own expectations. I thought I hit rock bottom. Three years later, I realize that leaving school and having the guts to “veer off the path” was the best thing that ever happened to me. I had time to pursue my passion of music and DJing. I started working at a start up in SF; a small team of brilliant engineers who showed me what it takes to get a small company off the ground and produce a successful product. Now I spend my time DJing and working at a Tech consulting firm in the city.

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The best advice I can give young women entering into adulthood is roll with the punches baby. Keep moving forward with purpose. Be respectful, work hard and realize setbacks are not pitfalls! It’s just the universe’s way of telling us be patient, it’s time for more reflection!

Thank you.

Thanks so much to Camille for being such a great example of beauty from the inside, out.

Thanks to all of YOU for reading, supporting, and sharing our mission.  There’s lots more to come. Til then, spread love and be love.

BEHIND THE SCENES FOOTAGE:

Director Christine and Lead Stylist Fre setting up

Director Christine and Lead Stylist Fre setting up

Make-up artist adding the finishing touches to Camille's first look.

Make-up artist adding the finishing touches to Camille’s first look.

Hair stylist Dana setting Camille's curls on set outdoors

Hair stylist Dana setting Camille’s curls on set outdoors

Camille literally stopped traffic.

Camille literally stopped traffic.

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Photographer Candace took some amazing shots while on set in Oakland, Ca

Photographer Candace took some amazing shots while on set in Oakland, Ca

It takes a talented village to have a succesful shoot. Thank you to all!

It takes a talented village to have a succesful shoot. Thank you to all!

SPECIAL THANKS:

CHRISTINE: DIRECTOR

ALELI: ASSISTANT DIRECTOR//WARDROBE STYLIST

KAI: MAKEUP ARTISTE

DANA: HAIR STYLIST

FRE: WARDROBE STYLIST

CANDACE: PHOTOGRAPHER

JORDAN: FOR LETTING US INVADE YOUR HOME

AARON: ALLATTRACTIVE GEAR (www.allattractive.com)

MICHAEL: INTRODUCING US TO SUCH A PHENOMENAL WOMAN

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The Originator

Well, here we find ourselves. The last in our series of the Multi-Ethnic Project. Let me be clear that Brittany is last, but CERTAINLY not the least. I want it to also be doubly clear that Brittany is not ‘like’ a little sister to me, she is my little sister. Maybe not by blood, but growing up with this little one (how I see her still, sorry lol) and so closely with her sister Karin as my best friend from childhood reminds me that just because I’m an only child biologically does not mean that I have not been blessed with siblings and people to love and be loved by in the natural. Brittany is at such a pivotal point in her life-the early 20s (how I wish to not go back there, though they were a ton of fun lol). There is so much to learn at this time in life, and Brittany is handling it more gracefully than most. There is no doubt that Britt is beautiful externally, but I am constantly blown away by our ever growing bond, and the insight that she provides to various situations that is more profound than most adults I know! Brittany steps outside of the box. That’s why I’m so proud of her. She has found her voice and is now discovering all of the platforms in which it can be heard. She brings awareness to embracing natural hair. She has embraced what being a “mixed girl” means to her, and owns it confidently. Brittany, if all I could tell you is I’m so proud of you, I hope that would be enough. I’m actually quite surprised at how close we have become in our adulthood, and moreover, so so honored. Thank you for bringing a young, fresh, and vibrant presence to this project. You handle all of your obstacles and victories so beautifully. Don’t forget who you are influencing-your little sister, and so many more. This is just the beginning for you and I can’t wait to see what you are going to do next. You are the ultimate originator. You take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. You are the flavor the world needs. Thank you for being a clear example of a go-getter. Please, don’t let anyone, or anything, ever ever hold you back from your dreams. I love you. -Kuya.

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1. Describe what your ethnicity means to you. How has it molded you as a person? What are the difficulties/challenges associated with it?

I feel like my ethnic identity has evolved as I have grown up– being a mixed girl in a society that insists on classifying you and putting you into ONE single box can be pretty disorienting. I remember as a young child feeling so confused as to why I LOOKED black on the outside, knew Spanish FLUENTLY, and yet had nothing but Filipino friends– I even remember that in 4th grade I would tell people that I was part Filipino, because I had learned that many Spanish words were also Tagalog words, so naturally, I must also be Filipino, right?! Haha it sounds so silly to me now, but it definitely provides a clear picture of just how confusing it was to grow up mixed and without having a single ethnic identity in which I could completely identify with.

These days I proudly identify myself as “biracial” or “mixed– I have done some research into the ethnic backgrounds of both sides of my family and have found that I am actually half Mexican and half French-Creole. It is nice to be able to put myself in a box like that and see where certain aspects of my personality and identity may come from, but more than anything, I feel ‘mixed’ and I feel like as long as I assert that that is okay with me, it should be okay with others too.

2. Describe what it means to be a woman in today’s culture? What do you value/love about being a woman? What is the most challenging?
I think that being a woman in today’s culture is a pretty exciting and inspiring thing to be– we live in a time where expressing and sharing parts of yourself, your feelings, and your experiences in life is so strongly encouraged via social networking sites, and I feel that this is something that has been very much embraced by women today. I think it’s awesome that I have a twitter where I can post my random daily musings, thoughts, and one-liners on and have people actually WANT to follow me and hear what I have to say! The same goes for Instagram or Tumblr– it’s an outlet for me to express myself and be seen for who I really am, and that is awesome! Long-gone are the days where women were encouraged to ‘grin and bear it’– to silence their voices and put forth only their prettiest faces, and I think that is so exciting and incredible!
I feel I have only recently (in the past 2 years or so) began to truly embrace my femininity– I wasn’t exactly a ‘tomboy’ growing up, but I definitely was not a ‘girly-girl’ by any means! In the past couple of years I have begun to accept that yes, I am beautiful, and I can embrace that beauty in the way that I present myself physically as well as intellectually. I love that I have learned that what they say about a “woman’s intuition never being wrong” is SO true, and that because of that I know that no matter what I can rely on myself and my instincts to lead me in the right direction. I love that I am so in tune with my emotions and am able to draw from them to learn so much about myself and the world around me. I feel the most challenging times I have as a woman are only those times that I’m not fully relying on my intuition and occasionally even allowing a man’s opinion to sway me in a direction that I might not have gone in had I just trusted myself in the first place. It’s a good reminder to always go with my gut.

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3. What are your greatest motivators to keep pressing forward and achieving your goals?
I think I am motivated by a combination of my rough upbringing, which taught me that life really is what you make of it– that it’s up to YOU and only you to ensure that you are successful in whatever you set out to do, as well as my strong desire to be independent and able to completely take care of myself; I was raised by a single-grandmother and seeing everything that she was able to do for me and my sisters has really taught me that it is entirely possible to be a self-sufficient, successful, and happy woman.

4. What are your greatest fears and/or hindrances that get in the way of moving forward in your goals?
I have recently found that one of my greatest fears is allowing myself to be vulnerable around many other people– you see, because of the circumstances I experienced early on in my life I quickly came to believe that I needed to put on a brave face for the outside world, and that as long as I could make the people around me feel okay by pretending that I was okay, that everything would be fine– the only problem with that, though, is that it doesn’t really allow you to form many true, deep, and substantial relationships with other people– instead it kind of traps you and separates you from people who you might otherwise really connect with, and connecting with people is what allows you to learn and grow as a person. I still struggle with allowing myself to really be vulnerable with people, and sometimes I don’t even realize that I’m keeping my walls or my ‘front’ up, but I know that acknowledging that this is an issue for me is the first step in my being able to work on it, overcome it, and change it for myself.

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5. In thinking about society’s pressure to conform to the “ideal woman,” what does she look like to you? How does that make you feel? Do you ‘qualify’? Where do you ‘fall short’?
I recently started a Tumblr blog for my best friends and I based on this very same premise– you see, my two closest girlfriends and I all have curly hair and are all of “minority” ethnic backgrounds (one is a Colombian immigrant and the other is Punjabi Indian). We talk all the time about how we have learned to embrace our curls as we’ve gotten older because growing up it seemed like all of the most beautiful women were Caucasian and had long, straight hair. We started the blog at first just to assert ourselves as the beautiful, exotic-looking, curly-haired women that we have come to take so much pride in for ourselves, but since then the blog has evolved into something so much bigger– it has been a way for us to express ourselves as being true women in this 21st century– flawed and imperfect, different and daring, fashionable and ‘about our shit’ if you will. I feel in working with my girls in this way, as we learn to both accept and assert ourselves and each other as we truly are, we have also come to understand that the most beautiful thing a woman can be is open and honest; real. We take so much pride in being real women, and it has been incredibly encouraging to have received such positive feedback on who we feel we really are right now.

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6. You are a huge inspiration to so many women, young and old reading this. What would you want to say to adolescent girls entering into a world of harsh and FALSE expectations?

In the past few months I have come to understand that one of the hardest obstacles I have run into over and over again in my life has been the issue of ‘love’– as women, and even as young girls we are made to believe over and over again that the best thing that could ever happen to us would be to fall in love with a ‘prince charming’ of sorts– that can be so disillusioning for a young woman! In the past few months my personal mantra has been this:

1. First and foremost I need to learn to love myself.
2. Next I need to learn to accept love, exactly as it is offered to me, from others.
3. Lastly, I want to learn to give love without expecting anything in return; the definition of giving says absolutely nothing about receiving anything in return and I think that is an essential part of love that is rarely ever addressed or talked about. 

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Thank you so much for following us on this journey. I hope you have enjoyed learning about all of these women and their unique experiences in womanhood and culturally as much as I have. Please support our newest venture: Woman of the Month, by liking and sharing our work!

Thank you again to the team of stylists, photographers, videographers, supporters. This is just the beginning for us, and we cannot wait to see what is next!

Blessings and Light,

Christine.

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The Artiste

Rachel, better known to me and most as Kai, represents the Poly community in the best light. She is clearly beautiful, but her caring heart and wit are what I love most about her. Kai will give you the shirt off of her back, or buy you one. She is just THAT loving. Kai is also one heck of a character. Personality is a department she does NOT lack in! All that said, I wanted Kai in on this project because she boldly represents a woman that may not be a size 2 or stand 5’0 tall, but owns her voluptuous  curves, her big beautiful locks, and her giant, captivating smile. As a working professional for the City of San Jose, CA, Kai has been expanding on her own professional ventures-that of makeup artistry. Kai’s artistic talents are effortless. She is ever-growing in her technique, ability to connect with her clients, and is now our Lead Makeup Artist for our project. Kai, my Amazon Queen sister, I can’t be more grateful than to have you as one that not only sees eye to eye with me literally, but also just gets me. I trust that with your growing faith, your growing humility and positive attitude along with your willingness to serve, you will be blessed with more than you have ever dreamed. You stand out wherever you go, not just because of your height, or even your stunningly captivating beauty, but because you have a heart of gold, and it shows. I love you. Thank you for participating in this project. You have no idea the impact you are going to leave in so many women’s lives because you embrace your beautiful body and bring such joy to those that have the pleasure of knowing you. Love, Christine.

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1.     Describe what your ethnicity means to you. How has it molded you as a person? What are the difficulties/challenges associated with it?

I guess I’d call myself a fruit salad.  I identify with more than one ethnicity.  The list seems endless. My maternal grandparents are a mix of English, Jewish, Irish, Tongan and Fijian and my paternal granparents a mix of Fijian, Filipino, Tongan and German. I  understand the Fijian language fluently, speak a little of it; I also understand some Tongan because it is similar to Fijian, but I was raised in a strictly English speaking home.  Weird right?

I wouldn’t call my upbringing strict as most Polynesian homes are; we were always taught to speak up (respectfully of course), we had our normal chores and were disciplined.  But what stands out in my mind the most is the love my parents instilled in all of us (I am one of six girls).  I can’t think of a time in my life where I felt without that. We all get into our little tiffs but when it comes down to it…we LOVE hard!

 

Like every culture, we all experience negative stereotypes  I guess I get a lot of people who have preconceived judgments about me based on their experiences with other Polynesian women; rude, angry, troublemaker.  BUT this only gives me the opportunity to let my personality shine.  I can be sassy though if you deserve it. Hehe 😉

 

2.     Describe what it means to be a woman in today’s culture? What do you value/love about being a woman? What is the most challenging?

 

Strength. Definitely strength.  It’s amazing to see women doing all these things that men have been doing for years…and dare I say..better?

 

The thing I value and love MOST about being a woman is being a nurturer…We are nurturers by nature. We listen, we love, we help.  I find I am really in tune with my emotions.  Maybe a little too much haha! But I always put myself in others’ shoes and think about how I would feel or react, so I am always careful of others’ feelings.

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3.     What are your greatest motivators to keep pressing forward and achieving your goals?

My greatest motivators definitely has to be my parents, no doubt.  They gave me the best of everything growing up and never let my sisters and I be without..even when it meant they went without.  Because of them, I was able to travel my whole life.  I’ve lived in Fiji, Australia, SoCal, Seattle, Miami, Wisconsin to name a few.  I pray to be half of what they are to my sisters and I.

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4.     What are your greatest fears and/or hindrances that get in the way of moving forward in your goals?

 

I truly believe through God, ALL THINGS are possible.  I am given nothing I cannot handle and He has continued to bless me after all the mole hills and mountains I have made it over. 

 

5.     In thinking about society’s pressure to conform to the “ideal woman,” what does she look like to you? How does that make you feel? Do you ‘qualify’? Where do you ‘fall short’?

 

There is no such thing as an ‘ideal woman’ to me.  Nobody’s perfect.  We learn something new everyday..we go through trials, we learn from them. 

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6.     You are a huge inspiration to so many women, young and old reading this. What would you want to say to adolescent girls entering into a world of harsh and FALSE expectations?

 

When there are rainy days, there’s always lipstick J  Well lipstick makes ME happy on rainy days. Hehe. But honestly, BE YOURSELF. I know it sounds sooo cliché but don’t get caught up trying to be someone else or be in the “in crowd” because its cool..Seriously, none of that matters.  I know there are pressures but there is NOBODY else like the amazing,  beautiful YOU. So be just that, YOU!

We’re nearing the end of our series in the Multi-Ethnic Women’s Project.  We have SO much more we’re working on, so stay tuned!

Thank you for the love, support, joy, and encouragement. We need your energy to spread the message of love and light in our communities of outstanding women like yourselves!

Christine.

 

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The Boss

Amanda and I met in graduate school where I discovered that not only was she a boss in the classroom (she’s a literal genius), but she was also in the process of establishing her own organization-which has now flourished into an incredible and successful asset to so many schools and communities in San Francisco. Amanda and I became much closer after she asked me to hop on board with the Food Education Project-an outstanding non-profit org that focuses on educating children and families, particularly in marginalized communities, on the importance of healthy habits. Eating, exercising, caring for the environment, and agricultural components make up the model that has caught the interest of board members, professors, principals, parents, and best of all, students. I am so proud of Amanda. She is the epitome of a successful woman. She works hard, manages SO MUCH, and still manages to stay humble, happy, and beautiful. Amanda, I expect nothing less than the highest level of success for you. Your positive attitude and driven spirit inspire me to take my own project to levels that you have already attained.  Thank you for being a sister, a friend, and a key example to what I want to be when I grow up 😉 I love you. Thank you for being a part of this project. You are blessed, and a blessing. 
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1. Describe what your ethnicity means to you. How has it molded you as a person? What are the difficulties/challenges associated with it?
 
Being a blended ethnicity (Korean and White), I’ve always felt that I’ve had the best of both worlds so it means being versatile with the ability to create, or be created. Today, as a woman, it has molded me by showing myself exactly how versatile and flexible I am in any situation given. One caveat: it’s just so hard to say no…
 
2. Describe what it means to be a woman in today’s culture? What do you value/love about being a woman? What is the most challenging?
 
It means to be desired. The curiosity of the exotic is on the forefront, and men and women are drawn to those they’re most unlike. I am turnt up when I’m approached by those that are interested in my background and in the same sense turned off when I’m sought out for solely for my ethnicity.

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3. What are your greatest motivators to keep pressing forward and achieving your goals? 
 
I am motivated by meeting the needs of others. Nothing can bring a smile to my face quicker than anyone receiving what they deserve.
4. What are your greatest fears and/or hindrances that get in the way of moving forward in your goals?
 
None, as God and my family is with me. I am wholeheartedly grateful to be currently living my dreams.
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5. In thinking about society’s pressure to conform to the “ideal woman,” what does she look like to you? How does that make you feel? Do you ‘qualify’? Where do you ‘fall short’?
Haha this question makes me laugh because I pictured what others may consider what an ideal woman may be, and not what I actually believe an ideal woman to be. That’s just not me. I’m not an ideal woman. 
 
6. You are a huge inspiration to so many women, young and old reading this. What would you want to say to adolescent girls entering into a world of harsh and FALSE expectations?
 
Get ready to be incredible. Pull yourself together and enjoy the ride.
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Thank you for continuing on this journey with us and our project. I hope you have been thoroughly enjoying these features.
We’re almost through all of the models! But don’t worry-our project is not over yet. In fact, it’s just beginning.
Please like, share, and comment! We would love to know what you think, what you would like to see more of, etc!
Blessings and Light,
Christine.

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The Encourager

Rachel and I met in a Group Supervision setting while finishing up Graduate School. We now speak about how we knew we would be friends from the minute we set eyes on each other, lol. Call it a romance, but it was more so a connection of sisterhood that was felt without words needed. When we finally began connecting outside of the academic setting, Rachel spoke with so much grace, so much ease, and so much comedy. The girl is hilarious, let me tell you. It’s what I love so much about her. But what I love most, is her undeniable love for the Lord. You can never call Rachel a hypocrite. She practices what she preaches. She speaks in love. She keeps it SO real. She exudes the love of God, and it’s effortless. Now I know Rachel is not perfect, and I  know she doesn’t think she is either, but there is something powerful about this tiny human. She is a fireball, not causing harm but instead shaking things up, waking up people from all darkness, depression, insecurity, just by a simple hug, a word of encouragement, a beautiful smile, and prayer (her most effective weapon lol). Rachel knows how to do that. It’s her gift. Aside from being professionally on point, Rachel is going places in this world. Working towards licensure in Marriage in Family Therapy, there is no doubt in my mind that she is going to continue blessing masses of young people and families. From a personal standpoint, Rachel will always strive to grow and be her best in all of the areas of her life. Knowing this, I believe God is going to take you to levels you’ve never dreamed of, Rachel. That is my prayer for you. Thank you for representing yourself in a humble, modest, and influential manner. You inspire me to increase my faith and be the woman God has destined me to be.  I am honored to be your friend, and more so your sister. Even above all of that, your sister in Christ. I love you, my little dancing butterfly. Spread your wings, and soar. -Christine.

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1. Describe what your ethnicity means to you. How has it molded you as a person? What are the difficulties/challenges associated with it?

 Being of multiple ethnicities offer an interesting path of defining one’s self.  I’ve known since as long as I can remember that I was Puerto Rican AND White.  But outside of my home and family I wasn’t asked, I was told what I was.

 My ethnicity is not the primary way I define myself, but I would not be who I am without both sides of my ethnic identity.  I have been shaped both by, my cultural experience and my ancestry, along with by the way others have tried to deny me an undeniable part of who I am.

 The difficulty is that others want to define me by what’s easiest or most comfortable for them.  But I believe our ethnicities, race and personal cultural identity are complex and sacred parts of who we are and should be treated with honor, respect and curiosity.

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2. Describe what it means to be a woman in today’s culture? What do you value/love about being a woman? What is the most challenging?

I think today’s overarching cultures does a horrible job in describing what it means to be a woman.  Womanhood and femininity seem to be treated more as items on display rather than worthwhile, unique, valuable and interesting aspects of an individual.

I love being a woman.  Just like my ethnicity, it is not the primary way I define myself, but it is a piece of my puzzle that creates the larger portrait of my life.  There is such beauty in femininity and womanhood and my interaction with defining these words is different than my best friend, sister or the woman who doesn’t like to wear dresses or make-up.  And that’s part of the beauty.  It’s a unique interaction of understanding and defining self among others partaking in their own journey of being a woman.

Being a woman is challenging in that we are trained from a young age to know we are “too weak” to compete with the boys and our “real” competition is between other women.  That is horrible.  We should celebrate one another and instead we are being taught our value lies outside ourselves.  We are taught to measure our worth in comparison to the girl next to us.  Who is prettier, smarter, more behaved, talented, etc? We aren’t taught to celebrate ourselves and others.  We are taught to measure ourselves as better or worse rather than being taught how valuable and irreplaceable we are because we are worthwhile because we are the only one of us!  It’s a challenge to navigate through that and to try helping others to find freedom from that same limiting mindset.

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3. What are your greatest motivators to keep pressing forward and achieving your goals? 

My greatest motivators in pressing forward and achieving my goals is knowing that the more I push, the more possibilities open up to me.  I believe that my life holds a destiny and purpose.  If I sit around and do nothing, I’m literally wasting the precious gift of time I’ve been given as well as squandering the gifts I’ve been given.

 I look around and see young girls being limited to what they can achieve in their lives and I want to be someone they look at and think, “Wait, I’m being told one thing and she is living another.”  I am motivated to keep pushing knowing that there are young women watching me who are destined for greatness, but being offered mediocre lives.  I cannot stand by and feel sorry for myself or give up when I know that my pushing through adversity and achieving impossible dreams will open up the eyes of another young dreamer who will accomplish greater things than me and set off a cycle of greatness beyond themselves in future generations.

4. What are your greatest fears and/or hindrances that get in the way of moving forward in your goals?

My hindrances have often been unhealthy thought patterns that translate into poor living.  Messages that have been given to me either through direct verbal communication or given in subtle ways through actions have created thought patterns in me that dictate how and why I make decisions.

As I spend more time alone and in personal reflection, I am able to see these thought patterns unfold and take responsibility for changing them.  Our actions stem from what we believe and often times I find myself not doing something based on the fact that I don’t believe in my value, worth, ability or endurance to push past difficulty or opposition.

5. In thinking about society’s pressure to conform to the “ideal woman,” what does she look like to you? How does that make you feel? Do you ‘qualify’? Where do you ‘fall short’?

 Society’s picture of the “ideal woman” is so mystical and unrealistic I can’t even describe her to you.  Looking through magazines and watching television, it’s safe to say that she is Caucasian, blonde, blue eyed, tall, thin and always looks just right in the latest fashion trend and is sporting the best make-up and hair.  She is always “on” and perfect.

I don’t measure up in so many ways.  But I remind myself that I can pressure myself to be something I’m not all I want, but I will never be that.  So I can be miserable trying to attain a goal I cannot attain or I can learn to be me and better myself and not be satisfied with a mediocre me.  This doesn’t translate into always looking like I stepped out of a photoshoot.  If I had to be looking like a “10” all the time, I’d be the worst woman ever.

There are days I feel badly about not being that “perfect” pretty and other days that I am so content and enjoy who I am completely.  When I remind myself that I don’t measure up to a fairytale, it gives me something to laugh off and has me looking around for realistic role models and ideals to help encourage the best of me to emerge.

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6. You are a huge inspiration to so many women, young and old reading this. What would you want to say to adolescent girls entering into a world of harsh and FALSE expectations?

 

To the young girls navigating through this life: you are not alone.  You are irreplaceable.  You were made with a purpose.  You were made in God’s image.  You were born into a promise that He has plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans for a hope and a future.  You are beautiful.  You are valuable and worthwhile.  You are far more than your measurements and the way your face and body were formed.  You have a brilliant mind.  You are a life full of dreams waiting to become reality.  You are a gift.  You have so many things to offer the people you encounter.  You are not perfect and that is a beautiful thing about you.

Don’t stop going down the road designed for you because someone tells you you can’t.  Keep walking past them.  Make your mistakes.  Learn.  Achieve your goals.  Learn.  Show this world you are more than you think and can accomplish far more than their definition of you and your future.

Do not despise any part of yourself.  Love you.  When you begin to treat yourself with value, when you believe in your dreams, when you know that you are a child of God, when you realize that the doubters didn’t start you which means they can’t stop you, others will see the same things you know about yourself.

You’re beautiful.  Don’t believe anything contrary to that.

Thank you for your continued support of the Multi-Ethnic Women’s Project. Please don’t forget about our upcoming brunch this Sunday. MEWP photos will be on display. Meet the models. Boogie all day. Interact with other incredible world changers. It’s going to be fun.

Also stay on the look out for our upcoming Launch Party set to take place in November. Details to come.

You are special. You are loved.

Christine.

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The Fashionista Mama

 Martha, otherwise known to me as Belen, and I have known each other since our good ol’ teenage years. I am pleased that we actually became much closer after we graduated college. I contacted Martha years ago to come speak on a panel of teen parents at the high school I was working at as Health Educator (Shout out to Conley Caraballo Warriors!). Martha was a young mom, but did not let that stop her from graduating college and pursuing her goals. She now has a beautiful, talented 10 year old daughter, and is pursuing her dream and passion in fashion. She designs and creates her own pieces, and let me tell you, is going places. It is clear that Martha is a stunningly gorgeous woman, but what I love most about her is that she is authentic. She exudes strength. She is kind without letting anyone overstep her boundaries. She is an overcomer. A dream catcher. An inspiration to so many. Martha is the perfect go-to for all of you young readers that may have struggled or are currently struggling as young parents. She will never tell you it is or was easy, but she will tell you it’s worth it. Thank you for being my friend and sister, Martha. I cherish our friendship, admire your optimism and drive, and will be attending every single fashion week with you from this year forward. Te quiero tanto, Christine. 

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  1. Describe what your ethnicity means to you. How has it molded you as a person? What are the difficulties/challenges associated with it? 

 

I love being Mexican. I love our customs and culture. There are certain things that I will definitely instill in my daughter and maybe my future children. I think the machismo that is associated with the Mexican culture has actually made me reject the idea that a woman needs a man for everything and has made me label myself a feminist. It has made me somewhat defensive or careful with men and/or women who hold this point of view. Both my parents hold more of a “machismo” mentality than I would like, but are liberal enough where they don’t force their opinions on me. I think my experiences and my achievements have definitely molded me into the type of mother that I am as well. I feel that I’m doing my best to talk to my daughter about life so when she has experiences of her own, she has a solid foundation to make reasonable decisions for herself.

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2.  Describe what it means to be a woman in today’s culture? What do you value/love about being a woman? What is the most challenging? 

 I still think it’s a difficult thing to be a woman in todays culture. Depending on the exact subject matter, it can be a fun and positive experience, but when you take a look at the deeper core issues, it’s still a tough place. I don’t think theres been enough progress in regards to equality in the United States and social issues in third world countries. I think women are still too heavily judged on our physicality. Not enough women empower one another and not enough men stand up for women. But at the end of the day, a woman is a much more sensual, interesting, beautiful creature than man, in my opinion. When peoples’ curiosity is provoked as with women, they usually want to dissect it.

3.  What are your greatest motivators to keep pressing forward and achieving your goals? 

 My daughter, to whom I need to give an example of how to be a successful woman no matter your circumstances and the fact that I know I am capable of much more. Success to me, is defined as being happy with your life decisions and striving to be better every day.

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4. What are your greatest fears and/or hindrances that get in the way of moving forward in your goals? 

Lack of experience and thinking that people won’t take me serious because of my looks and that I will fail at my career. Basically that I will not be good enough one way or another.

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 5.   In thinking about society’s pressure to conform to the “ideal woman,” what does she look like to you? How does that make you feel? Do you ‘qualify’? Where do you ‘fall short’?

The ideal woman to me, according to society, is likable, very good looking, thin, and has a positive, easy going demeanor. It makes me feel like it’s bunch of bull shit to be quite honest. I might qualify in the “looks” department except I am not thin enough to be considered the “ideal woman.” Depending who you talk to, I would be considered likable, but I think I am too abrasive, honest, and vocal to be considered easy going. I think most men agree with my idea of an ideal woman, but think most women don’t hold this opinion because they know what its like to be scrutinized and are much more forgiving of one another in that way – at least I am.

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6.   You are a huge inspiration to so many women, young and old reading this. What would you want to say to adolescent girls entering into a world of harsh and FALSE expectations?

 Try your absolute best to become a woman whose thoughts and beliefs match her actions. When faced with doing the right or wrong thing, no matter how minuscule you think it might be, do your absolute best to do the right thing – habits become character. I believe that both these things will put you in a position where regardless of your weight or height or eye color you will be more confident as a person and that will spill over into your confidence as a woman.

Thank you for continuing to support our project. Please continue to follow us as we shake things up for the better.

Special Credits:

Aleli Crutchfield: Co-director/Hair/Styling

Fre Crawford: Styling

Makeup: Well, me.

Photography: Candace Smith

Comment, like, share, support.

Love others, love yourself.

Christine.

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Makeup For My Best Friend.

So the wedding may have happened almost 2 years ago, but we won’t talk about that lol.

I have finally retrieved the photos of the most special wedding of my two great friends, Aleli and David.

I met Aleli at a Bible Study at church nearly 6 years ago (holy moly!). Since then, we discovered we’re the exact same person in two very different bodies lol. However, Aleli in her own right is creative beyond understanding, the most humble and nonjudgmental human being I have ever met, and will forever remain my favorite style guru.

Their wedding took place on the beautiful island of Oahu in Hawaii. Everything was planned to perfection, and even with a huge storm to hit the day of, that didn’t stop the celebration of true love to come to pass.

I am honored to be your friend, to have been present to do your makeup and to have participated in your ceremony. You two remind me that true love exists. I love you both. But Lel a little more. Sorry brother David. 😉

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The Crutchfield’s!

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My beautiful bestie.

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Makeup for Mama and daughter!

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The best place to do makeup. On the balcony of the Aulani Hotel!!

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The moment everyone lost control of themselves and began BAWLING their eyes out lol. Mostly me.

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You can say I had a little fun at this soiree 😉

For wedding inquiries or just to say hi, please email me at makeupbychristine@gmail.com

Celebrate Love.

Christine.

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The Healer

Ms. Aldene Brown and I met in our early college years at Azusa Pacific University in Southern California.  I was immediately drawn to her authentic personality, captivating beauty, and ultimate crave for success. I can recall being no more than 20 years old hearing her say she was going to be a doctor. Six years  and several moves across the country later, Aldene and I reconnected as she was placed in the Bay Area for residency. Yes, she did it. She is an Ob/Gyn, and a darn good one at that. I admire her drive, effortless beauty, nerdy brains, and continued desire to serve God where He isn’t acknowledged as much as he could be-in a medical setting.  

Be prepared to enter into Aldene’s world through her photos, and the revealing of the fine details that have molded her to be a Healer to individuals that need it most. 

Aldene, I am honored to be your sister.

Christine

1. Describe what your ethnicity mean to you? How has it molded you as a person? What are the difficulties/challenges associated with it?

Being raised by my Filipina, single-parent mother until I was 13, I learned that being a Filipina woman can mean a difficult life. Many Filipina women experience some oppression, since their lives are wrapped in a patriarchal, conservative, overwhelmingly Catholic society. Many freedoms we take for granted are a luxury there – especially in remote areas like my mom’s tribe’s. My grandmother had an arranged marriage, which is not common anymore, though a woman’s standing in society is often tied to a man. If a woman is “promiscuous,” she may be pressured into marrying a man for being intimate with him otherwise she will likely be shamed. Opportunities for education and jobs are also limited for women there, and I have several family members in Europe, the Arab Emirates, and the US who have been estranged from their families in search of better lives. My mom is fiercely independent, and everyday i realize how brave she was to be a mom in a foreign country, get her bachelors, and live a righteous life.

Similarly, growing up black in the Midwest gave me a strong sense of socially constructed  disadvantages in black communities. In Grand Rapids, MI, where I grew up, there are still neighborhoods largely segregated by color, and with that, socioeconomic disparities. Growing up without my biological father had its own challenges, though in my neighborhood it was not uncommon. My “black-ness” “Filipino-ness” were always in question, and like many multi-racial kids I’ve gone through phases of identifying as either, both, or neither. Interestingly, in the last year one of my cousins traced our family back to its slave plantation in Alabama, which was cool to learn about.
My stepdad is white and 20yrs my mom’s senior, which had its challenges for me growing up. Ultimately, that addition to my family exposed my to life in the middle class, University of Michigan football and basketball, and golf and tennis.  All of the above experiences are part of the drive that pushed me through school and now help me through residency as an OB/Gyn. Part of the challenge has been my perception that people may think I don’t deserve what I have worked for; that I received opportunities because I was poor, a woman, or a person of color and not for merit. Some people along the way have gone so far to say so. When I think of my mom and where I came from, though, I know it is God’s work and purpose in my life. I keep my eyes on my goals and keep it moving!

2. Describe what it means to be a woman in today’s culture? What do you value/love about being a woman? What is the most challenging?

In today’s culture, I love that being a woman can mean the choice to be a stay at home mom, a working mom, or not a mom at all and that’s ok. All of these things may not be equally socially acceptable, but there at least exist opportunities to be a woman and do any of those things and still be successful. I love that women can be sensual and sexy and nurturing and strong and FIERCE! For me, the challenge is balancing work and maintaining relationships. I’m in a demanding, time-consuming point in my training. It’s easy to be consumed by all the stuff I need to read, my patients’ lives, and time with my co-residents. My friends and family keep me grounded, but I have to remind myself that I need to sow into those relationships too – call my family, be present when I’m home, pray.

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3. What are your greatest motivators to keep pressing forward and achieving your goals?

My family is a huge motivator! I also have a fairly type A personality and am a nerd. That generally means I can be hard on myself, but that’s typically a motivator for me to do better and not get too down on myself. When I am really feeling down on myself I can rely on my man and my puppy to pick me up and help me regroup!

4. What are your greatest fears and/or hindrances that get in the way of moving forward in your goals?

I tend to live in the future instead of the now. I am that person in the car trip mapping the route, planning when/where to stop, and probably also thinking about what to do the next day. I have to remind myself to just put it all down and enjoy the journey sometimes. It comes down to prioritizing my obligations versus what’s really important. Relationships, health, and my faith are all really important, and they’re the day-to-day things I may let slip in the face of my obligations. For my own sanity, I can’t achieve my goals without those things that are important to me. My biggest fear is not maintaining my relationships, health, or faith, as well as failure. All of those things are interconnected and I’m learning to balance them.

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5. In thinking about society’s pressure to conform to the “ideal woman,” what does she look like to you? How does that make you feel? Do you ‘qualify’? Where do you ‘fall short’?
 

To me, the ideal woman is someone like Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, or Michelle Obama. She has the family, power job, and body on lock.  I want to be on their level but have those nagging thoughts about my thighs being too jiggly, I’m too short, I’m not “put together” enough, I’m not a good enough girlfriend/daughter/sister. To make myself feel better i justify that these women’s jobs are too look amazing always, and people are paid to make sure that happens so they have a huge advantage.

6. You are a huge inspiration to so many women, young and old reading this. What would you want to say to adolescent girls entering into a world of harsh and FALSE expectations?
 

In middle school, my dad started buying me Sports Illustrated for Women. They would feature real athletes as models. I remember one triathlete who was 5’4″ and 150. That’s about how big I was in high school, despite being in the shape of my life playing basketball, doing competitive cheer, and running track. It’s always been a reminder that my body-type is genetically determined. The most important thing is that I am able to lead a healthy, active lifestyle. Everything else will fall into place. Do whatever it is that gets your blood flowing and challenges you to be more fit. Fitness is so crucial – that along with faith in God is something my mom taught me. I believe those are the keys to making you a beautiful person from the inside out.

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Thank you for reading the first feature from the Multi-Ethnic Women’s Project Part 3.

Be on the look out for the other ladies to follow.

Special Credits:

Aleli Crutchfield: Co-director/Hair/Styling

Fre Crawford: Styling

Makeup: Well, me.

Photography: Candace Smith

Comment, like, share, support.

 “I will promise to try and remember all that you have done for me and the amazing things God has lined up for you now. Love, me. “-Aldene B.

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