By Tess Hardy
May is an enlightening month for us all this year, highlighting National Women’s Health Week from the 14th – 20th, International Day of Living Together in Peace on the 16th, and World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development on the 21st. It’s also Mental Health Awareness Month, focusing on educating the public about the realities of living with mental illnesses and strategies for attaining mental health and wellness.
Although being optimistic takes work, even more so during a worldwide pandemic, we believe that every day offers a fresh start to work on our self-esteem and physical and mental wellbeing. It’s a learned skill to recognise how our attitudes and actions can determine levels of happiness.
After speaking to several inspirational women for our ‘In Conversation With’ series, it’s encouraging to see the growing journey of women empowerment, and we love to see women uplifting women in the 21st century.
In light of our recent conversation with change maker and fashion model, Emma Breschi, we decided to delve a little deeper and reflect on her personal journey, exploring how her life experiences have shaped her into the empowered woman she is today.
Childhood to Adulthood: A Culture Shock
Growing up in Thailand as an Italian and Filipino girl, Breschi admits that she didn’t have the anxieties that young kids have today. She was “literally running around butt naked on an island” because that’s all she knew and that’s all she cared about. It wasn’t until she moved to the UK, aged 17, when she realised she’d been living in a very sheltered environment.
Facing her younger years in a multicultural and international background, Breschi was surrounded by people from all walks of life. “There was no fear around where people came from,” explains Breschi. “The idea of being shameful towards each other wasn’t so obvious to me, because I didn’t see colour of skin, it was just more like, we’re all the same.”
Before moving countries from Asia to Surrey in England, Breschi wasn’t taught about racism, so didn’t recognise when people were being racist. “I just thought a lot of people were assholes,” she says. “For me, I wasn’t really scared, it was more like, wow, this world is so new and different.” She had to become more aware of what goes on in the world, and adjust to the culture shock that comes with moving from a closed community to the unfamiliar Western world.
Now older, Breschi’s picked up on the elements of racism that she was oblivious to as a naïve kid, in terms of people’s behaviour towards herself and others. “Understanding issues around race was something I had the privilege of growing into,” she clarifies.
“It’s amazing now that we’re waking to the bigotry, bias and white supremacy that’s distilled into the way society is run. It’s important for us to realise that we need to change it. And it starts within us,” voices Breschi.
Change Produces Progress
As a woman who prides herself on being a change maker, Breschi believes that if people are not willing to change, progress and make the community a better place, then we need to start questioning why?
If governments are struggling to change the ways in which the direction our world is going in, we need to understand that we as individuals actually have a lot of power within ourselves. “This year, we have all realised some really heavy truths, and it hurts. Sometimes it’s better to be hurt with the truth than comforted by abusive leaders and their lies,” expresses Breschi.
We agree with Breschi’s opinion that it’s important to never doubt even the smallest of acts and smallest groups of people, because small voices can change the world. Breschi reassures: “I have faith in the LGBT community, I have faith in Black people, I have faith in women, I have faith in POCs and indigenous people, it’s a shame that we’ve had to put all that faith in us because we’ve had so much taken away. But if we all choose to take back our power, then we will be successful in this journey and fight to a better world.”
Taboo Subjects must be Championed
It’s refreshing that Breschi often champions taboo subjects through her passion for advocacy. She’s not afraid to speak her mind when addressing the more uncomfortable topics, yet there’s balance in everything. With age comes maturity; she’s let go of ego and evolved in the way she communicates. As a very observant and curious Virgo, Breschi’s learned how debates and conversations work, offering more mature, but still fun, opinions.
It’s not easy approaching hard conversations because everyone communicates differently; however, reaching a common ground is easier when we understand that we’re allowed to make mistakes, we’re not always right and we have the ability to apologise and be held accountable.
There’s Power in Being Yourself
It’s true, there’s so much power in being brave enough to be yourself, especially if you’re in the public eye or have a large following on social media. We live in a society that profits off of our own self doubt, but Breschi is a complete breath of fresh air, openly exploring nudity and body acceptance in her photography. These photos have been subject to being taken down on Instagram for not being censored or ‘adhering to the community guidelines.’
Although Instagram contacted Breschi to apologise for her content being removed, we wonder if the stigma and shame surrounding this topic will lessen. This situation is nothing new and it’s not just Breschi it’s happening to. A lot of voices from all minorities are not being heard. Breschi questions,
“We’re constantly being censored because what, we don’t fit the ideals, society’s norms of what beauty should be seen as?”
“It’s bizarre to me to see someone get so passionate and vexed by me just being me,” she continues. “If someone comes at me calling me fat, I’m sorry. I think as a society, we can do much better than just using ‘fat’ as an insult. Hit me with something harder than that.”
Sustain Your Moral Compass
A huge part of empowerment is sustaining your moral compass. Since working as a model, Breschi has come to terms with the problems in the fashion industry. Before accepting jobs with brands, she wants to understand their approach to sustainability and asks to be part of the conversation.
“If I don’t provoke thought within them, I don’t know if they will change. Are they willing to put in the work? I hope that they respect me enough to listen to what I have to say and think,” she says. As long as you make choices that resonate with what you believe in, there’s hope that this will influence others to do the same.
What’s in the Pipeline for 2021?
It’s hard to guarantee what’s in store for 2021 because of the uncertainty this year brings, but we hope that all women are given equal opportunities. Breschi hopes to be successful so that she can bring other people to the table as well as herself, and we love that ideology! Imagine what great voices can achieve if we work more collaboratively?
If something negative is affecting you, think how can you flip it to empower you? There are many steps in the process of empowering women, but by standing up, telling our stories and supporting each other, we can bring fulfillment to our own journey, while improving the lives of those around us.