As women, our stories are constantly being erased or hushed.
It's happened throughout history in significant ways (read: inventions, authorship, activism, identity), but there's no doubt it happens in our everyday lives too.
I've been thinking about this a lot lately and the impact it has on our health and happiness.
I'll tell you what I mean with some personal examples from my own life.
Here's a recent one. I was in a relationship with a guy in New York who spread wild falsehoods about me and slandered my name post breakup. My crime? I discovered uncomfortable truths he didn't want to admit to, let alone for anyone to know.
And another one. After the Atlanta shooting that recently shook the AAPI community, I posted to our Instagram in solidarity. A male owner of a surf brand in Bali took it upon himself to tell me to "get off my victim horse" and educate myself. He sent me links to Alt-right fake news.
Then there are the times in my life when men have physically harmed me or pushed sexual boundaries without my consent.
I give these anecdotes not to bash on these men, but because they're a small sampling of how and when I've decided to stay quiet. To do nothing. To say nothing.
Not because I want to, but because I felt I had to. The circumstances may be different, but I have a feeling many women I know can relate to this.
Whether it's staying quiet after seeing something we shouldn't have, or experiencing something we didn't want to, we take the seemingly "high road" of silence because it offers us vague protection. If we say something, we're aggressive and abusive at worst, or a victim looking for pity and a savior at best.
It can feel like a losing game.
Never mind when it comes to surfing and sports, female stories of glory and skill on a mass scale continue to be unseen, undermined, and erased.
There are so many ways systems at play, culture, and men of privilege, power, and tangible/intangible means, rob us of the chance to tell our truths. We don't get to be visible without punishment. Not fully. Not even close.
So in this reality, of course we don't bat an eye when it comes to saying hell yes to female empowerment. Rising to the challenge, taking up space. All that good stuff. But even as I type that, those words feel like they've totally lost their former gravitas. It doesn't acknowledge how hard it is. How impossible it sometimes feels to be "empowered".
So what I mean when I say these things is that La Bamba is in business because we want to live in a world where the multifaceted nature of women and our unique, everyday stories don't feel surprising or strange anymore. They don't because we've had the chance, fairly and safely, to speak truth to power.
And we shouldn't have to, but here's how we as women can lead the way to this type of world.
I for one want to continue listening openly, attentively, and gracefully to what women are saying and doing. Believing them, supporting them, championing them when they speak up. When they advocate for themselves. When they tell you something is wrong. When they do the brave thing. Even the little brave thing.
I want to shout from the rooftops about all the ways women don't fit neatly into a box. All the ways we casually or defiantly challenge expected ideas about womanhood and femininity. To make it feel natural that women are all of the above and more: loving, angry, loud, deserving, supportive, active.
La Bamba is here today because we want to break the rules. To find our voices and use them even when it feels weird, uncomfortable or wrong.
We're for the women who are afraid to speak up, but do it anyway.
We're for the women who feel unnatural taking up space and do it regardless.
We're for the women who have found their confidence and display it proudly, lighting the way for others. You inspire me daily.
Thank you for hearing our stories and being a part of our La Bamba universe.
xx, Ann Kim
Founder, La Bamba NYC