Self-love is an ethics of liberation, communication, and community.
Kelly Marie Tran–the first woman of colour to have a lead role in a Star Wars movie**–gives us a salient example of all three of these in her personal essay for the NY Times.
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.
And it was in this realization that I felt a different shame — not a shame for who I was, but a shame for the world I grew up in. And a shame for how that world treats anyone who is different.
I am not the first person to have grown up this way. This is what it is to grow up as a person of color in a white-dominated world. This is what it is to be a woman in a society that has taught its daughters that we are worthy of love only if we are deemed attractive by its sons. This is the world I grew up in, but not the world I want to leave behind.
I am here for Tran’s loving work (and work at loving herself and loving others like herself). I am here for leaving behind a new world using an ethics of love.
I know how important that is. And I am not giving up.
You might know me as Kelly.
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.
I am here for Loan.
**As a Star Trek fan, it is important to note that the first woman of colour that I even saw in space was Nichelle Nichols as Lt. Nyota Uhura. (She later achieved the rank of Commander.)