Culture

Redefining Beauty

By Reina Ang

On May 31 st , I had the opportunity to sit and listen to Jessica Rey in her session about “Faith, Hollywood, and Fashion” for Global Cohort Gathering 2019. I was personally incredibly excited to be in her session as I’m also working in both of the creative industries she’s involved in: entertainment and fashion industry.

Jessica Rey is an actress, mostly known from her work as White Wild Force Ranger in the TV Series Power Rangers Wild Force. She is also currently the Founder, CEO, and designer for her modest swimwear brand called Rey Swimwear. During the session, Jessica told her story about how while doing her MBA program, she got offered to do castings for commercials and TV series that ultimately led her to a main role in Power Rangers Wild Force. Her experiences in Hollywood and its lifestyle led her to see the need of different and wider perspectives on what is the definition of beautiful for modern women. After much struggle and rejections, she successfully launched Rey Swimwear, a modest swimwear based in Los Angeles.

The fashion and entertainment industry are two very unique industries that have so much influence on dictating what is deemed beautiful in society. But at the same time, within these industries themselves, diversity and inclusion comes especially slower. As I was listening through her session, I was very convicted on how much influence the people in these industries can bring in term of redefining what is beautiful and how much I could’ve done as the part of it. Two of Jessica’s statement stood out to me the most.

“Only 4% of women feel beautiful. My goal is simple, how do I help make it 100%?”

As heartbreaking as it sounds, it’s true. Beautiful is a big scary word for most women. We find ourselves constantly trying to conform to certain set standard unconsciously, never fully satisfied on how we look. The pursuit of improving oneself is good, as long as it doesn’t come from self-hatred. As someone in fashion and entertainment industries, am I doing my best to help this cause or am I actually further enforcing this habit of placing our identity in this unrealistic beauty standard through my work? Am I forcing my own perception of beauty onto others, rather than God’s perspective of it? That brought me to her other statement.

“Your mission is not to make others know who you are, but to make others know that they are made in the image of God.” My goal and mission shouldn’t be centered around me and who I am. It should be about God and according to God’s Word. And what is God’s Word about body image?

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” - Ephesians 2:10 God’s message is loud and clear. We are made according to His image and we are His masterpiece. God sees us that way and that’s the goal, to help men and women to see not only their true beauty, but also their God-given dignity.

Reina Ang is part our Jakarta Team. She is also a professional model in Jakarta.

Reflections from Jakarta: Crazy Rich Asians

By Grace Liu

Crazy Rich Asians (just released on DVD) will resonate with anyone that has studied abroad and came back to Asia to experience the immediate cultural pressures of family obligations. The tug of war between putting your dreams or your family first is real, especially for those who inherit the family company upon returning from overseas studies. 

I grew up in North Carolina and New York. I moved to Indonesia during my early teen years and finished off my high school in Jakarta. I went to the University of Michigan and came back to Indonesia for family and for work.

But being Asian American, I saw the truths of both cultures portrayed in the movie. The western side of me believes that you need to stand up for what you believe in. So it is important to understand your passions and follow your dreams. Love who you want to love. You are your own person, it is important be secure and own the desires of your heart. At the same time, the Asian side of me understands the importance of being community-oriented; and how our personal dreams need to be in line with what is best for the family. This is not just about your immediate family, this involves your uncles, aunties, cousins, grandparents, nieces, nephews. Future decisions you make affect not just you, but your ENTIRE family.

Eleanor (the mother in Crazy Rich Asians) said that Americans are great with following their dreams and achieving their ambitions , but Asians are good with building things (such as family traditions, family businesses) that last. This is why in a culturally Asian family, who you marry is such a big deal. It is the prayers of the elders in your family that you find someone in line with your family values. Parents play a big role in this decision because you do not only marry the person, you marry into their family. Both families (their family culture, their reputation, their name) merge into one. When you marry, you carry the benefits and burdens of the family you choose to tie yours to. 

What does the Bible say about following your dreams verses building up your family? 

Philippians 2:3-4 says " Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." 

It is biblical to put the interests of others before yourself.  It is biblical to sacrifice you your fleshly desires for the good for your family, your community. However at the same time the Bible also commands us to "forsake your mother and father". 

Matthew 19:29 says, " And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life."

How do you find common ground with these two verses? 

God has given us talents, gifts, ambition, vision for life and these are all good things! However God has also given us the responsibility to love and care for the people within our spheres of influence. This includes our family. Whether you are Asian or not, your life decisions do affect your family on some level. Making life decisions with or without the support of your family makes a difference. 

Does this mean all our life decisions need to be agreed on by our parents? Absolutely not. Our parents are also human and can make decisions out of selfish ambition as well (not saying that all parents do this, but just know that everyone will have this tendency no matter what life stage you are in).

God has also given us to Holy Spirit to guide us from everyday little decisions to major life decisions. Sometimes these decisions may not make sense to our family. However, when God will call us to a season of life where our obedience to God will be challenged; are you willing to follow through what God wants for your life regardless of what other people say? I understand that this might be a big struggle for many of my Asian American friends when faced with this verse. It goes against cultural values; it is seen as rude or disrespectful when we go against family wishes. Following what God wants for our life is not about being politically or culturally correct, it is about being obedient and trusting that God even when you cannot see the bigger picture yet. 

Crazy Rich Asians was a bit cheesy, over the top, yet entertaining and addresses some real struggles Asian young adults face when integrating back to their home country after studying abroad. One thing I took away is, no matter what ethnic or family culture you were brought up in, we should always revert to bringing the Jesus culture into our decision making and our family culture. 

Grace Liu is our Jakarta City Director and has a passion to bring young adults together in community for the sake of the Gospel. Her and her husband Ronald have two kids and live in Jakarta.

Know Your Place

Tau diri  is a common term used in the Indonesian culture (usually by an older person to a younger person) as a reminder to "know your place". What does that mean exactly? It means:

  • Don’t speak out unless you are told to do so.

  • Respect elderly people and heed their advice; don't talk as if you know better.

  • As an employee, never outshine your superiors.

  • If you are the 2nd or 3rd born in your family, accept that most of the leadership roles will fall under your oldest sibling.

Tau diri. Know your place.

It is a phrase that is often times belittling, oppressive, and negative. It is usually used when scolding someone, that someone being of lower status, age, rights, and/or gender(women are still seen as “less” in this country).

A friend once told me that because her parents repeatedly told her to "tau diri," her insecurities grew. She expected less from herself. She didn’t want to stand out or speak up. To her,Tau diri meant keeping quiet and always nodding along in order to be the "proper person". It prevented her from seeing herself the way God sees her.

I challenge us to see this term "tau diri" in a different light. Yes, tau diri means know your place. But let’s try and see this with a positive perspective - know your place, as a child of God. Know your place as an ambassador of Christ. Know your place as someone that has been saved by the loving grace of God.

I agree that it is important for us to "know our place" with regards to our family, work position, and age. It is always good to have a humble heart and attitude. However, humble does not mean one is weak or less than others. We should know that God has placed us in this family, this country, this culture, this group of friends, and this company, all for a reason...know your place. Know your place as a child of God. A child that is loved, cherished, and saved. We do not need to look for fame or position to be secure because God is our security.  

With this “new” definition, I want to challenge all of us to Tau Diri from a kingdom perspective, God’s eyes. Know your place as a child of God. A child that has been given a mission and vision for the people around you.

Grace Liu, Jakarta City Director