After deleting her Instagram posts earlier this summer in response to online harassment, Kelly Marie Tran has addressed the situation with an amazing New York Times editorial.
“It wasn’t their words, it’s that I started to believe them,” Tran begins. “Their words seemed to confirm what growing up as a woman and a person of color already taught me: that I belonged in margins and spaces, valid only as a minor character in their lives and stories.”
She continued by describing how she had thought she had grown out of the feelings associated with being mocked throughout her life because she was different. “Their words reinforced a narrative I had heard my whole life: that I was ‘other,’ that I didn’t belong, that I wasn’t good enough, simply because I wasn’t like them.”
She went on to write, “As much as I hate to admit it, I started blaming myself. I thought, ‘Oh, maybe if I was thinner’ or ‘Maybe if I grow out my hair’ and, worst of all, ‘Maybe if I wasn’t Asian.’ For months, I went down a spiral of self-hate, into the darkest recesses of my mind, places where I tore myself apart, where I put their words above my own self-worth.”
After describing how she stopped speaking Vietnamese and how her parents had abandoned their real names in favor of American ones “so it was easier for others to pronounce,” Tran realized that this was not only destructive thinking, but it was also a lie.
“I had been brainwashed into believing that my existence was limited to the boundaries of another person’s approval. I had been tricked into thinking that my body was not my own, that I was beautiful only if someone else believed it, regardless of my own opinion. I had been told and retold this by everyone: by the media, by Hollywood, by companies that profited from my insecurities, manipulating me so that I would buy their clothes, their makeup, their shoes, in order to fill a void that was perpetuated by them in the first place. Yes, I have been lied to. We all have.”
The actress then proclaimed “I want to live in a world where children of color don’t spend their entire adolescence wishing to be white. I want to live in a world where women are not subjected to scrutiny for their appearance, or their actions, or their general existence. I want to live in a world where people of all races, religions, socioeconomic classes, sexual orientations, gender identities, and abilities are seen as what they have always been: human beings.”
“This is the world I want to live in. And this is the world that I will continue to work toward.”
“You might know me as Kelly,” she concludes. “I am the first woman of color to have a leading role in a Star Wars movie. I am the first Asian woman to appear on the cover of Vanity Fair. My real name is Loan. And I am just getting started.”
What are your thoughts on this powerful, empowering response? Let us know in the comments!