Without further ado, we’re excited to introduce to you a new series on our blog this season!
Every month starting today, we will open up the conversation to a new writer from our community. We’re committed to learning and believe hearing different perspectives is necessary to this.
To kick us off, we reached out to content creator Rae Tilly, who we were lucky to connect with at our influencer breakfast event earlier this year. Rae is the founder of YEOJA Mag, an online publication, championing an educated and fashionable community that represents topics like intersectionality.
We asked Rae to tell us more about the magazine, what sets it apart from others right now, and why she is so compelled to create. All of the following words and images are Rae’s own. Enjoy!
YEOJA Mag is an intersectional feminist platform which strives to combine fashion and subculture with politics. YEOJA (meaning woman in Korean) is a place where women (and men!) can be inspired, challenged and activated. It is for anyone searching for a better way forward where everyone is valued and appreciated equally.
YEOJA Mag represents all forms of intersectionality including the LGBT+ community. It is my hope that we can continue to grow and flourish as a platform and use our voice both on and off of social media and the internet to do things differently this time around.
The beauty with social media and the internet is that from a grassroots position, we are given the tools we need to re-shape this social landscape and determine our own visibility.
My backstory is integral, to why I founded YEOJA Mag, so let me start from the beginning: When I was four months old, I was adopted from South Korea by two outspoken Jewish parents hailing from New York City. I grew up in Virginia as one of the only Korean-American Jewish girls around. I know, I’m like a walking billboard for diversity.
Being surrounded by Caucasian family members (with the exception of my adopted brother) meant that although my family loved me, this visceral need for being able to see oneself reflected back (both on a personal and societal level) was missing. While growing up outside of DC meant that there was a lot of ethnic diversity in my community, all of the adults in my life who held positions of authority were white. And I still straddled two worlds – the world where my DNA came from, and the world were my adoptive family came from.
The opportunities for connecting with my ethnicity and ethnic heritage were also fewer than I would have liked and I had to actively seek them out. Looking to American media did little to solve these feelings of displacement either, as asian celebrities were virtually non-existent.
On a purely optical level, children have a visceral need to see what looks like them in order to feel included and accepted. And extending this logic further, adult human beings need to see what looks like them reflected in their communities, in the media, and in respected positions to feel included and accepted by society at large.
All of this became more complicated with age. In addition to dealing with the general growing pains of being a teenager, women of colour like myself had the gargantuan task of trying to figure out how to find ourselves beautiful when society rarely showed beauty that wasn’t blue eyed with blonde hair.
It would have meant so much to a 16 year old me to have seen an asian character alongside a white character who was just as beautiful and capable. This is what I am fighting for. Inclusion – so that ALL women can see themselves reflected back at them and realise that they are beautiful.
These experiences compounded with the sexism and racism I have faced and have watched other women of colour (both personally and publicly) face as well as issues of cultural appropriation, the fetishising of WOC (women of colour), and the erasure of POC (people of colour) from narratives and ownership of their own inventions and culture has impacted my life irrevocably and is why I am so passionate about WOC representation in the media.
YEOJA is a platform where WE get to tell our OWN stories. We hope that both women from our communities, as well as women and men outside of our communities can come together, learn from our experiences, and unite with us in solidarity.
But my dreams for YEOJA Mag extend beyond the screen: We also want to activate the community around us through community events like women-run club nights with female and femme DJs, panel discussions, and creative workshops. The best scenario is a platform and a community that exists both online and offline.
*YEOJA Mag will be holding our soft launch event to celebrate almost a year of existence on 30 October.
If you are interested in attending, click the image to RSVP.
Rae is an American ex-pat living in Berlin.
She is a photographer and producer, and shares her life, fashion, and opinion on Instagram @raetilly.
She is also the founder of YEOJA Mag.
Would you like to be our next guest writer? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org ✨