as i was writing an intro to this list, my thoughts evolved into something more meaningful to me than a list of instagrammers to follow. this post became a reflection on women of color in the outdoors community. it's just the tip of my iceberg surrounding this topic, but this is a good starting point.
It's clear that there's an awesome group of adventurous women who live courageously, embody an adventurous spirit and take awesome photos on Instagram. I follow a lot of them because I found them on lists like this and this. I feel excited to go explore the mountains again and breathe in that amazing fresh air when I scroll through their images. The pictures are not just beautiful; their lives are inspiring. You know what I mean?
But can I be honest here? Those lists also disturb me.
Because when I click through "The Coolest Outdoor Women on Instagram" and see no women of color, it simply bums me out that there's no diversity of outdoor women represented. I want to see awesome Latinas, East Asians, Southeast Asians, South Asians, Blacks, Middle Eastern, Multi-ethnic women all in the mix because simply put, it's important to show that the outdoors welcomes everyone -- because it does; it's supposed to.
I believe it's important to see people who look different - in the color of their skin, the shape of their body, their personal style, the age worn on their faces, the color and texture of their hair...everything. It's important to represent diversity in marketing and content pieces like "Women to follow" because I think it gives hope and it inspires, especially when you're just starting out. I think it simply feels more welcoming to see people I can relate to doing something I'm unfamiliar with. You know?
Think about Misty Copeland or Serena Williams and how they are inspiring the next generation of young black girls to break into a traditionally predominantly white fields. Or look at Valerie Sagun (a yogi who I came across recently). I absolutely LOVELOVELOVE how she inspires ten of thousands of people to love their bodies through her own sense of confidence in who she is. She's a yogi who looks like no other yogi I've ever seen in any catalog, company or brand. Ever. And she's absolutely inspiring!
Plus, nature isn't exclusive. It's very nature is to invite us all in to come and partake and be healed by it's wonder. Research shows that spending time outside can change our brains and deeply affect our mood. So seeing more diversity of women outside gives me hope that a wider variety of people are gaining access to a hobby/lifestyle that can provide so much healing, perspective, awe, and self-confidence. Imagine what could happen if an entire generation of female urban youth fell deeply in love with the wilderness.
This is obviously a much larger discussion which I won't get into here, but in my little corner of the internet, I wanted to highlight some women who I think are living inspiring outdoorsy lives who are worth following.
1. Kathleen buenviaje | @goodvoyage
3. Olivia hsu | @olicow
4. JOYCE | @HIKERGIRL76
5. Alice Kao | @AALICEINWONDERLAND
6. MIRNA VALERIO | @THEMIRNIVATOR
7. MADHU K. MCNIEL | @rockin_the_wild
8. LIZ THOMAS | @ELIZABETHAYAMETHOMAS
9. Paulina Dao | @paulinadao
10. BLACK ADVENTURISTAS | @BLACKADVENTURISTAS
11. Tiffany Nguyen | @tiffpenguin
13. KATHY KARLO | @inheadlights
15. CAREN PECK | @carenpeck
16. MARIELA | @the_bodhi_tree
17. MINA YOUNG LEE | @minayounglee
18. SHARON YOUNG | @sharonmyoung
BONUS #1 DEAR KATE | @dearkates
(The only company I included on this list because of their intentional use of a wide variety of women in all shapes, sizes and colors. I so appreciate Dear Kate for this reason.)
BONUS #2 VALERIE SAGUN | @BIGGALYOGA
What other outdoorswomen of color inspire you to go outside? I know this is just a short list and there are many ladies out there who I haven't discovered yet. Please share your inspiration in the comments below!