MW Stories

Celebrating International Women's Day

March 07, 2019

We are here to show that we can celebrate one another, despite our apparent differences. We are in this together, celebrating our successes, setbacks, and everything in between.

With March upon us, it is truly the time to celebrate all the women in our lives, as International Women’s Day is just around the corner. This day comes on the heels of an unprecedented global movement for women’s rights, equality and justice from the previous year.

To be completely honest, up until recently, I did not believe that we as women had to fight for our rights. I grew up in a household filled with strong women. My grandmothers have always had the final say over my grandfathers. My mom is a financially independent woman who always did what she liked around the household without having to consult with my dad. 
From what I heard, when my older brother was born, my mom actually wanted a daughter so badly that she dressed him up in girly outfits as a baby. When I got married a few years ago, my in-laws told me that they are so happy to now have a daughter, finally.
Throughout my entire life, I always thought being female was a privilege. When women’s rights campaigns such as #MeToo and #TimesUp were happening in the United States and around the world, while I logically understood the concept of these movements, deep down I couldn’t really understand the anger and sense of urgency that was a part of with these moments.
 
That all changed very recently. A few months ago, for the first time in my life, I experienced first-hand what it is like to be treated as a “second-class citizen” because of my gender. 
My husband and I have just moved to Hong Kong and we went apartment-hunting with a real estate agent. I remember feeling angry, but I could not precisely pinpoint why. I thought, maybe I was being too sensitive, or worst, crazy, for feeling what I was feeling. When we finally settled into our new apartment, and no longer had to be in contact with our real estate agent, I reflected on my feelings when we worked with him, and then I realized a series of his small gestures that caused my anger. The list goes like this:
  • He only responded to my husband when my husband was present, sometimes not even acknowledging my existence.
  • He constantly told me to check with my husband about his thoughts when my husband wasn’t present.
  • When I asked him a simple question like what time are we meeting for our appointments, he flat out told me to “be patient.”
Granted, these are small gestures, but it all added up to me feeling so angry throughout the entire process. And it was not until I took a step back that I was then able to process my feelings and figure out the reasons behind it.
  
This particular incident triggered me to look back on my life, and sure enough, I started to see all the little moments when I would feel unhappy about a situation, and how I would try to brush off those feelings and tell myself: I was just being “too sensitive.” The list goes on and on: from the time that my former male co-worker told me that it’s not possible for a woman to be smart and pretty at the same time, to the countless times that people told me that “oh, it must be nice to have a business as a hobby”, or that “it must be nice to have something to do until you have a baby”.

 

To react in angrily to those remarks would have immediately brand me as someone “too emotional” or “easily offended”. I wonder though, given the exact same circumstances, would people say such things to a man? Would it be acceptable to a man if someone said that to him? Would he also try to be okay with it simply because he wanted to avoid someone telling him not to “overthink” or “be crazy”? This is when I realized that sexism is in fact deeply ingrained in every aspect of our daily lives. And that needs to be changed now.

 

A small, but significant component of gender inequality stems from unrealistic beauty standards. Women today are constantly reminded of what is considered “beautiful” via thousands of advertisements and other forms of media that promote this elusive image of “the ideal woman.” Men are often acknowledged by what they do, while women are seen by how they look, hence the comment of “not possible for a woman to be smart and pretty at the same time”.

That’s why, with everything we do here at Maggie Wu Studio, from the products we create to the people we photograph and the partners we work with, we are here to prove them wrong. We are here to #OwnIt - to show the world that we as woman can be beautiful, feminine, soft, strong, powerful, and capable, all at the same time. We are here to show that our feelings, concerns, and views of the world are valid.
We are here to show that we can celebrate one another, despite our apparent differences. We are in this together, celebrating our successes, setbacks, and everything in between.
 
In honor of International Women's Day, we have curated an #OwnIt Women's Day Event with WeWork and Luuna Naturals on March 9th.

#OwnIt harnesses the power of open conversation to foster a fresh, positive and honest approach to the modern female experience. In a series of talks and activities, we seek to overcome the shame and secrecy surrounding womanhood that prevents us reaching our full potentials professionally, physically and psychologically. For more event details, click here.

Photography Ashley Gallerani

Models Oriane Adjibi / Leanne Ansar / Hajra Tariq / Tricia Chen




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