Today we have accomplished blogger and badass Outdoor Asian Amber Inthavong laying down some real talk about her experience in the freelance blogging world.
For the first time, we are bringing to you Amber's story in audio & listening format, so pour yourself a cuppa tea, put in your headphones, and ເພີດເພີນ (enjoy in Lao)!
The written transcript of the audio is available below and you can find more of Amber's awesome blogging at ColoradoCaribou.com
My name's Amber, a freelance writer and outdoor blogger based out of Colorado. I’m also Laotian American and I’m so excited for my first story on the Outdoor Asian Blog. You can find more of my work on ColoradoCaribou.com, thank you!
If I were to sum up what the past 2 years was like, trying to make it as an outdoor blogger, it was an emotional journey. You’re tirelessly proving that you have great ideas and stories, that you know what you’re talking about when it comes to outdoor adventure and you’re worthy of a space; in this already saturated blogging world. As if that isn’t hard enough for us already, I also found obstacles uniquely specific to being an Asian American woman and I’m here to give you one perspective.
I’m gonna say it, I was oversexualized and hardly ever taken seriously. While I wanted to make a name for myself as an outdoor writer who knew her stuff, I found instead that I kept being pushed into the image of a girl with a very specific look that certain people can fetishize over. Let me elaborate:
“You don’t actually have to know how to write, to be a successful blogger. You’re an Asian girl , use that!”
“These photos are great, but you’d really get more likes and follows if you were in them, I mean who doesn’t want to see an Asian girl?”
These were the more appropriate comments in comparison to the other things I heard, but you get the idea. They came from social media experts and key influencers, one’s I had worked so hard to find and connect with and believe me, the last thing I was left feeling was flattered. It implied that I couldn’t be a knowledgeable writer of outdoor adventure and that my Asian look was the only thing I could use. Can you believe it? Even in 2019.
The only way I would ever use my Asian-ness as an advantage, is to celebrate the fact that I’m a First Generation Asian American. Why aren’t we talking about that? It’s positive, it’s powerful, and there’s an inspirational story behind it, so why not? Well I asked those questions too, and problem was, I couldn’t meet anyone who could grasp why being a First Generation, even mattered! No one I talked to understood, how being a First Generation Asian American, made me in any way marketable. I would instead receive an indirect, so what? Response:
“I’m not quite sure there’s anything here that does it for me, can you elaborate what that really means?”
“What exactly will people connect to, when you speak of coming from immigrant parents?”
To be transparent, I simply don’t want to use my body to encourage the representation of oversexualized Asian women (that has been our only representation for so long). And I refuse to be convinced, that being a First Generation, doesn’t have any real value. However, these were the walls I was up against.
For as far back as I can remember the representation of Asian women has always been scarce. Growing up, it was limited to Asian girls in bikinis at import car shows and Tila Tequila’s dating show back in 2007, not too much else. It wasn’t until just recently, that Asian women have represented in more noteworthy ways; through the Crazy Rich Asians movie and Sandra Oh at the Golden Globes. So guess what? These days we’re doing more, we’re showing up and we’re telling you that being Asian American doesn’t look like just one thing. Also, being a First Generation, of anything ... is remarkable, whether you realize it or not. It means I came from immigrant parents who made a way, when there seemingly was no way. That with an 8th grade education, $10 in their pocket and no knowledge of the English language, came here with nothing; yet was able to make everything happen. To put their kids in college for the first time out of anyone-in every generation of our family and have those kids grow up to become self-made successors. First generation is a very powerful story about hustle, grit and ambition to build the life of the American dream.
The past 2 years of blogging and freelance writing as an Asian American woman, has brought me to the realization that we still have misconceptions and misunderstandings on who we are. And although we may feel we have come a long way in diversity, acceptance and inclusion, the truth is, that act is forever ongoing. As long as times are changing, there is always an opportunity for us to be better. And with more and more creators, influencers and entrepreneurs right now; it’s the opportunity for us to change the dialogue of the conversations we’re having with one another, because we know better by now- don’t we?