She was a huge inspiration to me when I was in high school and was part of the reason why I originally wanted to pursue a STEM major in college. Growing up in a traditional Chinese household, my parents never worried over my future career like they did my brother’s—they assumed I’d get married and my husband would take care of me, so it didn’t matter too much what my career was. My mom even discouraged me from studying STEM when I mentioned it in high school, fearing that it might be difficult for me to find a husband if I made “too much money”. As well-intentioned as she probably thought she was being, no girl should ever be told that. That is why accomplished women in the STEM field who advocate for gender equality like Wu inspired me so much.
Cassey Ho is a Chinese-Vietnamese American fitness instructor, social media personality, and entrepreneur. She is best known for her Youtube channel, Blogilates, which is the #1 female fitness channel with over 4.5 million subscribers and 600 million video views. She is also the creator of POP Pilates, which is the official Pilates format of all 24-Hour Fitness gyms across the U.S. Ho is a strong advocate for leading a healthier lifestyle through fitness and encourages others to be more confident in their bodies and who they are.
Image courtesy of http://time.com/4192830/cassey-ho-body-criticism/
I first heard of Cassey through some friends, but I didn’t think too much of her. I assumed she was just another fitness model on social media with colorful, doctored photos. However, Cassey has been a huge factor in changing my negative feelings towards social media. She deftly uses it to help promote a healthy lifestyle and body positivity, and has called out large corporations like Target for photoshopping their models’ pictures. Humble and down-to-earth, she is inspiring to her fans through her own stories of struggling with an eating disorder and body image issues. She has also spoken about having an ‘unconventional’ job in the Asian culture and encourages young adults to do what they love. I am grateful to have discovered her Youtube channel because her stretching/Pilates videos have strengthened my health so much, both physically and mentally.
Truongis a motivational speaker and mental health advocate. Widely known as “Lady in Green”, she brings attention to the lime green ribbon that represents California’s mental health movement “Each Mind Matters”. She is affiliated with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Disability Rights California. Diagnosed with depression and anxiety herself, Truong uses her own experiences with mental illness to fuel her goal of reducing the stigma surrounding the subject and to inspire others who also deal with mental illness. She was honored with the Woman of Achievement Award in 2015 by Senator Ed Hernandez.
Image courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/MLEWu/
When I listened to her TED talk “The positive side of thinking about mental health”, I was stunned by how raw and vulnerable her storytelling was. It was like you could feel the pain through her voice, and that was something I admired. I’ve never been great at expressing my emotions, preferring to bottle them up and lock them safely away. I now understand the downsides, and dangers even, of doing so. That is why mental health advocates like Emily are so important; not only do they inspire others with mental illness, they also remind them that they are not alone and that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. They are the ones helping to normalize the conversation about mental health. I hope to be as brave as Emily is one day in sharing my own mental health journey with others.
May Lam is a current senior at Northeastern University, completing her Bachelor’s degree in Health Science, with plans to pursue a second degree in Nursing upon graduation. She is completing her final capstone with Asian Women for Health because she believes in its mission to promote women’s health through education and empowerment.