Multiracial Identity and the Miss Universe Pageant
As a women’s empowerment/success coach, it’s easy to imagine that I have conflicting feelings about beauty pageants. As an artist, I’m a BIG fan of beauty. It delights me. The women in the Miss Universe pageant are some of the most beautiful women on the planet.
I stumbled across an interesting article while in Paris a couple of weeks ago about the most recent winner of the Miss Japan Universe competition. Her name is Ariana Miyamoto and she is multiracial, or “haafu” which is a Japanese term used to describe someone who is biracial. Her mother is Japanese and her father is an African-American from Arkansas. Her motivation for entering the pageant was taking a stand for friend who committed suicide after being bullied for having a multiracial background.
Unfortunately and predictably, Miyamoto has already been labelled by some as unfit to represent Japan in the Miss Universe pageant because she is not “Japanese enough”. As you can imagine, being a multiracial woman myself, this situation struck a chord.
According to the 2010 US Census Report, multiracials are the fastest growing population in the country. However, growing up multiracial (my mom self-identifies as Filipino and my dad self-identifies as African-American) in the very white world of Northern Virginia independent schools in the 80’s and 90’s, I struggled with low self-esteem and a serious lack of self-love. Besides my brother and sister, I didn’t know any other multiracial people. It was very isolating. With no positive role-models to show me to how embrace my multiracial identity, I never felt Black enough for the Black side of the family, Filipino enough for my Filipino side, or white enough for my friends at school.
I was addicted to beating myself up any time I didn’t feel as though I measured up to the investment my parents made in my education, family, cultural and societal expectations, and to my own impossible perfectionist standards. I never felt like I was enough, and this self-limiting belief ran my life for over 25 years.
However, as I examined the remains of another failed relationship at age 35, I decided that things needed to change. I humbled myself, hit my knees, and asked for help. I was intuitively guided to an amazing coach who helped me identify my limiting beliefs about myself and together we created a plan change them. I rewired my brain, replacing self-doubt and negativity with a positive self-identity and affirmation. Through working with a coach and participating in some fantastic professional development opportunities in the realm of diversity and inclusion, I found peace and my purpose.
Every day I choose love over fear, and every day that I do so I am filled with joy and appreciation, bursting with creativity, and inspired to help others do the same. Now, EVERYTHING flows - money, love, creativity, etc. My purpose is to be a healing, loving, and empowering presence in the lives of people around me.
Breaking free from these self-limiting beliefs has been the best and most beautiful thing that has ever happened to me. I would never have found the courage to diverge from the well-beaten path of working on someone else’s dream to building my own as an entrepreneur, had I not been able to work through my identity-related emotional blocks. Today, as a speaker, success coach, and “lady boss” of my own company, Heather Rebecca Wilson International LLC, I present at national conferences to inspire students and educators to create diverse and inclusive learning environments, where every student, no matter their background, can cultivate a positive self-identity.
There was one conference in particular that stands out for me as a turning point in my career. After doing a lot of work on myself with the support of my coach, I attended the People of Color Conference (POCC) run by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) in 2013. The conference as a whole was absolutely wonderful, but the highlight was meeting all the amazing educators and students in the multiracial affinity group. An affinity group is defined as a safe space for people who self-identify the same way to gather and support each other without feeling like they have to teach others about their experience (FYI - I’m going to do a post on the differences between affinity, alliance, and interest groups soon).
Participating in this group was truly a spiritual experience for me as I had never been in a room with so many people that looked like me and had the similar experience of never feeling like they fit it in anywhere. However, what struck me the most was that there was still so much pain and struggle around coming to terms with “multiracial identity”. It was comforting to know that I wasn’t alone in the way I had felt for so many years, and yet very disturbing to realize how big of a problem it really was. I walked away from the affinity group experience a changed person and knowing in my heart that I had to do something to help alleviate the collective pain and struggle I felt so deeply in that space. It was heavy and so familiar.
The affinity group experience at POCC inspired me to create my signature talk on “multiracial identity”, which I presented a few months later at my alma mater, Potomac School, in McLean, VA. It seemed to me that I had given voice to something insidiously hidden and silent inside of anyone who has felt like an outsider or the “other”. It felt good be on stage telling my story. I enjoyed it; it was fun and healing. The response was so overwhelmingly positive that I knew I had to go bigger. I wanted to talk to and serve more people. So, I followed my intuition and started my speaking and coaching business. And here we are.
In order to support other self-identified multiracial/multicultural women entrepreneurs, I’ve created my own group on Facebook group called “Mixing It Up in Business”. It is the place to be for bad-ass, multiracial/multicultural women entrepreneurs to support, encourage, and inspire one another in business and in life.
So, if any of this resonates with you AND you self-identify as a bad-ass, multiracial and/or multicultural woman entrepreneur (aspiring entrepreneurs included), I invite you to join this group by clicking here. Also, if you know of anyone who might be interested in joining, please forward this email to them.
Now I want to hear from you. Do you or anyone you know self-identify as multiracial? What role has it played in your life and business, if any? Leave your comments below and let's get a conversation going.
Thanks and keep shining bright,
P.S. I am working on something exciting that I am going to share with my mailing list first. Be sure to sign-up by clicking here. As a bonus, you’ll also get access to my free audio training, “How to Get Unstuck and Moving in the Direction of Your Dream Life and Purpose”.