I’m half Thai and half Filipino. My childhood was based in Libya and the Philippines but I moved to the UK for high school. Most of my adulthood years were spent in the UK so I do identify as “British”, although there’s a part of me that yearns to be closer to my Asian heritage and culture. When you grow older, you appreciate your culture a lot more (it’s part of the monthly existential crisis). Whereas, when you’re younger, you don’t think much about it. It didn’t help that I barely had any Asian friends and I was the only Asian in my high school. So of course I went through the “I’d rather have a bland sandwich than rice and Adobo for school lunch” to fit in.
After uni, I started embracing my culture a lot more. I’ve met more friends from different Asian backgrounds. I’ve also been exploring more Filipino and Thai food because I want to reconnect with my roots and I’m missing my family. I cook Adobo when I miss my mum and Palo (Chinese 5 spice pork belly stew) when I miss my siblings and dad. I can’t speak Thai and my sister from Thailand can barely speak English so we communicate by sending each other photos of food, in particular Palo. As cheesy as it sounds, food does connect you to your family and culture.
I caught the cycling bug during the lockdown, it helped me deal with anxiety and discover new places. I was amazed at the lack of diversity in cycling, especially among Asian women. I joined a women and non-binary cycling club called Velociposse so I can meet more cyclists. That’s when I expressed my thoughts and observations about the problem…and that’s how I ended up being one of the Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Velociposse.
We created a Diversity and Inclusion working group to discuss and diagnose the problems, and create a roadmap on how we can be more inclusive. One word that stuck in my mind was “Representation”. I’m so proud to be part of a trailblazing club and I’m learning so much from everyone. We’re actually hosting cycling sessions skills for women and non-binary person of colour. As well as track cycling sessions for trans and non-binary people.
I signed up for the photoshoot because it’s becoming more apparent to me the importance of representation. Also, because I saw your ad at 2 am and had a moment of “why not try something out of your comfort zone”. When I say representation, I mean we need more south east/”morena” (dark skin) types of Asian women too. Growing up in the Philippines, I was bombarded with skin whitening products which makes me sad thinking about it now.
To be honest, I did have a moment of insecurity, “Why should I be in the photoshoot, it’s not like I’m doing anything groundbreaking for the community.”. Having this thought made me realise perhaps others have similar feelings and it’s ok to have these insecurities. I guess what I’m trying to say is there’s no correct way to be part of the community – no need to have done something groundbreaking or be part of a specific industry. After all, we all take space in different ways, ranging from personal to global levels. Simply opening up a discussion and listening is already a way for people to be part of the community. This is what I wanted to represent.
By the way, I didn’t come to this conclusion by myself, but with the wisdom of my amazing and badass close friends. It’s cheesy af but we’re each other’s cheerleaders and they inspire me. I’m glad I did the photoshoot, it was incredible to see everyone at the photoshoot empower each other.
Representation matters. Just imagine in a few years when there’s more representation of badass POC women! It’s important to have more Asian women representation in the cycling industry because young girls can look at us and see how they can be cyclists too or anything they want to be. As well as embracing their morena skin tone.
When you type “Asian women cyclists” in Google, all you see is oversexualised women on a bike. It’s gross and we need to change that! I’m sick of people fetishising Asian women and thinking that we’re submissive. I want to help remove this perception of Asian women.