Hey Glow Gang!
We're back with an exciting interview with the incredible co-host of the Not To Be Controversial podcast, Varsha Yajman. Plus a round up of news stories you need to know feat. women of colour who are changing the world + your favourite dose of recommendations!
Let's get glowing
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News Of The Week
We’re not here to take part, we’re here to take over! 👏🏾
Our bodies, our choice 🧕🏾 Six weeks. That’s how long protests have been happening in Iran in response to Mahsa Amini’s death. The aim? Ensuring women have the right to choose whether they wear the hijab or not. Meanwhile, Muslim women are suing India's government for the right to keep their hijabs on. Sigh, when will they understand that anything to do with our bodies is our choice?!
Speaking of choice: here’s a rundown of 108 brands and their stance on reproductive rights. So you can put you money where your mouth is!
Miss Universe just got a makeover 💅🏾 Thai entrepreneur and transgender activist Anne Jakapong Jakrajutatip just bought the Miss Universe organisation. Her aim is to evolve the brand for the next generation, while continuing a push for inclusion. Fun fact: from next year, married women and mothers will be allowed to compete for the title. Which should have been the case already … but better late than never!
Meanwhile: Brenda Darden Wilkerson is on a mission to makeover the tech industry. She has a goal to increase women and non-binary people in the tech sector by 50%, then put herself out of business!
See also: Melanin-rich skincare is the next big business in beauty.
Extra Nuggets 👀
What we’re loving this week:
Make - Five spice pomegranate mulled wine by Betty Liu. An Asian twist on a classic festive season drink! 🍷
Listen - Lift Me Up - Rihanna’s newest release (her first solo material in six years!) and the lead single from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. 🎵
Watch - Heartbreak High. An Aussie teen classic that’s become a favourite for teens and adults worldwide - you’ll be hooked! 💔
Support BIPOC Women Owned Businesses
Slow Down Ritual Kit by Zove Beauty
$99 (AUD, available worldwide). Pro tip: use the code SKIN50 for 50% off until 13 November!
Trailblazing Woman Interview
Varsha Yajman: On Advocacy And Finding Balance
Meet Varsha Yajman. She’s a uni student, a climate justice and mental health advocate, a paralegal at Equity Generation Lawyers, and a coordinator at Sapna South Asian Climate Solidarity. She’s also co-host of the Not To Be Controversial podcast.
She’s probably going to be running the world one day (after she saves it from climate change - no pressure, Varsha!) 🦸🏾♀️
We had the pleasure of chatting with Varsha to hear more about how she got into her advocacy work, how she looks after her mental health among it all and her tips on how you can blaze your own trail. Let’s go!
What motivated you to undertake your advocacy work?
Advocacy is something that I’m really passionate about, and I think my brain works better with it.
With climate justice, it kind of fell into place! We were asked in school if we wanted to be part of this thing called the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. I went along to the first meeting and I felt like I found my people and I was learning so much. Seeing people of colour in that space was also really nice. I didn't really realise it at the time. But in hindsight, it felt really good seeing people who look like me and who were so passionate about a topic that you don’t really expect a child of immigrants to be passionate about, and to be speaking at protests. It felt like there was more complexity to me than being the model minority.
With mental health, it's something that I struggled with (eating disorders and anxiety) and I felt so constrained to talk about it. Even to seek medical support in any way, it was just so hard. I always think if I knew another brown girl going through the same thing, that would have changed the way that I seek help. So I hope that even if I just reach one person, I’m like at least you know you can go seek help, and that your GP isn’t the only person you can talk to. There’s more choices out there.
Highlights and challenges of your advocacy work so far?
Challenges: The biggest challenge for me has been feeling imposter syndrome, and not really knowing why I felt that way. In the climate justice advocacy space especially, the conversations around justice weren’t really intersectional for a long time. I’d feel inadequate and question why I was there. I felt like I wasn’t as competent or articulate as the other people speaking. I’ve still got a lot to learn, but when you’re 16, 17 years old it does constantly weigh on you. I’ve learnt there’s a reason we feel like this, it’s not that we’re not competent or articulate. It’s more that there is institutionalised racism, and that you are probably one of the only people of colour in the room and you feel isolated. Being able to know why I feel like that has helped me gain confidence.
Another challenge is being compensated for my time and emotional labour- this is often not talked about. People will ask me to do really big things for them and you’d expected to be compensated but that’s not always the case. As a young woman of colour, I really didn't know how to ask for compensation. Even though I was doing massive tasks for people who have the capacity to pay. I’m still working through this one. Unpaid labour in this space is so normalised and I think that does lead to burnout. Because most people are also managing jobs and emotional labour at home with family and friends.
Highlights: Being able to talk to other people and them being like “oh I went through a similar thing as you and like I'm seeking help” - if it’s mental health related. Having that community is important because you can feel so alone and isolated for the longest time but in reality other people are going through the same thing.
With the climate movement, seeing more representation slowly coming into the space is a highlight! We’re seeing First Nations people leading the movement in Australia - as they should be. And seeing people who are impacted by climate change on the front lines working to define what justice looks like.
How do you look after your mental health among all the work you do?!
In terms of finding balance, I’ve had to learn to say no to things, because I also need to see my friends and spend time with my family! Just being realistic about and realising that you can do anything but you can’t do everything.
I also focus on finding spaces where I actually feel good and have learnt that I don’t need to insert myself into every space. I also spend time with friends who are outside of the movements. It’s really great to have social networks inside movements. But being able to take time off and spend time with a different group of friends where we switch the conversation and don’t talk about the movement(s) when we hang out helps. Plus switching off and watching some reality TV - everyone should watch Married At First Sight!
Your top tip for BIPOC women on how they can blaze their own trail?
- Do what you can and that's it! And surround yourself with people who do support you - like family and friends.
- I think it’s also helpful to find a community that’s linked to the cause you're advocating for or interested in - like on facebook groups (do people even use facebook anymore?!). Having a community or one other person doing what you’re doing that you can talk to really helps.
- Know that you have a voice and deserve to speak up in spaces. If you feel like you don’t belong, remember it’s probably not you. It’s probably the people around you. So check in with yourself and remember there's systemic factors weighing against you.
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