I'll start with thanking Anastasia for her thoughtfulness and skill, and for providing a platform for otherwise rarely heard or photographed people to express themselves and bare it all, literally and figuratively, in a non exploitative manner.
As for many, defining myself has been, and is at times, a struggle.
As a queer Eurasian woman, I've seldom been made to feel like my identity was mine to define.
Objectification, exotification, and at times direct expressions of hate, are dehumanizing and can lead to low confidence, self erasure, or worst.
In this context, what might be considered by some more privileged as a petty point becomes a strong, daring statement. Reclaiming the right to define myself is firstly to remind myself of my humanity and worth, and secondly an act of defiance, a stance for visibility.
When I thought I was being myself I was actually submitting to the idea of how I should be. Some changes I made over time are obvious -I cut off my long hair, stopped worrying about the noticeability of my tattoos- others, preceding the physical shifts or enabled by them, not so. But they all make me the evolving person I am, not the stereotype I am expected to be.
I am not your token friend of color, your fetishized Chinese girl, your quiet submissive Asian.
I am strong, ambitious, anxious, flawed, proud, insecure, remarkable, ordinary... Who I am belongs to me.
Deal with it.