Modern Outdoors Woman

Adventurous women of color to follow on Instagram

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

A photo posted by kimnamoojung (@kimnamoojung) on

3. Olivia hsu  |  @olicow

A photo posted by Olivia Hsu (@olicow) on

4. JOYCE  |  @HIKERGIRL76

A photo posted by Joyce (@hikergirl76) on

5. Alice Kao  |  @AALICEINWONDERLAND

A photo posted by Alice (@aaliceinwonderland) on

6. MIRNA VALERIO  |  @THEMIRNIVATOR

7. MADHU K. MCNIEL  |  @rockin_the_wild

8. LIZ THOMAS  |  @ELIZABETHAYAMETHOMAS

9. Paulina Dao  |  @paulinadao

A photo posted by Paulina Dao (@paulinadao) on

10. BLACK ADVENTURISTAS  |  @BLACKADVENTURISTAS

11. Tiffany Nguyen  |  @tiffpenguin

13. KATHY KARLO  |  @inheadlights

A photo posted by Kathy Karlo (@inheadlights) on

15. CAREN PECK  |  @carenpeck

A photo posted by Caren Peck (@carenpeck) on

16. MARIELA  |  @the_bodhi_tree

A photo posted by Mariela (@the_bodhi_tree) on

17. MINA YOUNG LEE  |  @minayounglee

18. SHARON YOUNG  |  @sharonmyoung

A photo posted by Sharon (@sharonmyoung) on

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.)

A photo posted by Dear Kate (@dearkates) on

BONUS #2 VALERIE SAGUN  |  @BIGGALYOGA

A photo posted by @biggalyoga on

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!

xo

Reflections / What does it mean to be an outdoors woman?

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Jeanine Pesce, Founder of This is Range posted an interesting long-form essay about what it means to be a modern outdoors woman. In her interviews with various women in the industry, she came to this description:

"The Modern Outdoors Woman is inquisitive, kind, and willing to introduce her less experienced friends to the outdoors...She is beyond stoked to collaborate, and her competitive nature, although present while in motion, is more passive when creating content. She finds strength in her femininity, and doesn’t feel that words like 'tomboy' define her. She is just as comfortable casting a line as she is shopping online, and is constantly daydreaming about trips and adventures."

What surprised me in the description was the characteristic of "willing to introduce her less experienced friends to the outdoors." I wouldn't have initially thought to include that, but I completely resonate with it. In essence, I think what that highlights is the characteristic of hosting, of welcoming someone into a new space with the hopes of making them feel at home or at ease. I believe this is a defining characteristic of femininity -- (to clarify, this doesn't mean being female).

At our best, I think women are incredibly supportive and nurturing. (Yes!) Have you ever been in the company of women who make you feel like you can be fully yourself? You feel accepted and there's not a single ounce of judgement or pretense. You can just be. It's a feeling of being loved for exactly who you are. It's incredibly nourishing to be in the company of those women.

But at our worst, we can tear each other down with gossip and a misplaced competitive spirit. Anyone know what I'm talking about here? :( 

The essay goes on to summarize some interview findings:

"All the women we spoke with were different, but they all had the same things in common: a unified, deep-rooted love of life and an absolutely pure appreciation of nature and the great outdoors.

Simply put, we are on a journey to discover something deeper and more meaningful."

(OoOh, I love that last line and completely resonate with it!) I might expand on Jeanine's description to define the modern outdoors woman as a woman who journeys into the outdoors seeking a deep experience of life and of greater acceptance of oneself.

How about you? How would you define the modern outdoors woman?