AAPI Heritage Month Q&A Series: Jeanne Grey
AAPI Heritage Month commemorates Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders that have contributed to America’s rich history and success. Growing up as an Asian American/Pacific Islander can be considered a collective experience that can impact each an every one of us in a variety of ways. Our cultural identity shapes a facet of who we are and I am happy to be featuring a variety of strong voices that will share their experience as an Asian American/Pacific Islander in America. I hope that this series helps you connect with your own heritage and reminds you to be proud of where you come from!
Jeanne Grey from thegreylayers has been an inspiration for me ever since I entered Instagram as a blogger. I remember the days when Jeanne even had a short grey lob. Since then, I have seen her grow and pursue her passions. Today, Jeanne is a woman with ambition and a boss babe all wrapped into one. She continually inspires me and I hope that her experience does too!
Q: What ethnicity are you?
Q: Do you speak your language?
Q: Were you always proud of your heritage or did you initially reject it?
When I was in high school and first moved from the Philippines, I was ashamed of being Asian; particularly Filipino. I continued to reject my heritage and wanted to become more Western.
Q: When did you begin to truly embrace your heritage and why?
As I got older, I realized how much beauty there was in acceptance and how much you grow more into yourself when you fully accept your roots.
Q: What do you consider to be the best parts of your heritage and culture?
Just being different in general is special! Being someone who is different can teach other cultures how to be more open to differences and therefore bring more inclusivity.
Q: What was the first experience where you felt that demarcation of being a minority/different?
I feel that mostly when I go back home to my own country. I feel that my own home has yet to understand the important of being inclusive. Coming home, I look different from every other Filipino because I am tanner since I do not use skin whitening products. I also have wavy hair unlike Filipinos in the Philippines who rebond theirs. I always say that traits like acceptance and humility of your roots starts at home but if your own home strays from its own roots and continues to want a more Westernized environment such as hair straightening and constant skin whitening, then we have yet a lot to work on as a nation in the Philippines.
Q: How did growing up as an Asian American/Pacific Islander affect your relationship with your parents?
A lot. Being someone who was born and raised in the Philippines and having part of my family being German made an impact. Most of my family rejected Filipino shows and only surrounded me and my sibling with mostly Western influences. Moving to the states at the sensitive age of 13, I wanted nothing but to put those influences into action, which started a very chaotic relationship with my parents.
Q: Did you have any Asian American/Pacific Islander role models growing up in media (i.e. movies/TV/music/books, etc.)? Did this affect your self-image?
No. My family did their best to shun Filipino influences from me and my sibling. Most of my role models growing up were very Western, perfect and Barbie-like almost. This was almost 20 years ago. It was up to me to grow up and see how beautiful being different is and how that teaches others to also accept who they are. Living in a country so diverse definitely taught me this trait.
Q: How do you feel about the rise of Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in media today?
I’m all for it. I think it’s important for the youth to see that as they’re growing up since we didn’t have that back in my day. It’s important for them to see someone who essentially looks like them and say “hey, I’m good exactly how I look” and not need to become someone else. We need that.
Q: If you could give your younger self advice regarding growing up Asian American/Pacific Islander, what would it be?
Girl, you’ll be just fine with your tan, oil and semi acne prone skin, wavy hair and weird accent that sometimes just comes out. Strange is beautiful. You’ll see.
Q: How do you connect with your heritage and culture today?
I always mention being Filipino within my platform. I want people to know I am who I am and where I come from. I started an all natural wooden jewelry line made in the Philippines called From the Label that brings work to local women in villages back home. Our agency works with a lot of Philippine made skincare that we create content for. It’s important to hold onto what makes you, you. It’s huge part of who we are and we have to have something to pass onto the next generation that they’d be proud of too.
About Jeanne Grey
Jeanne is highly regarded in the world of fashion, digital and social media as she collaborates with brands as a stylist, model, brand ambassador and product influencer. Wearing multiple hats : A brand ambassador, stylist, creative director, marketing coordinator and visual merchandiser, Jeanne only embodies the chicest and most elegant. She is well known to break the rules of fashion, blurring out lines in between what is men’s fashion and women’s. Having an excellent track record for styling and hybridizing modern, chic and vintage pieces altogether from many countless brands she has worked and collaborated with, she is known to execute in style and make a lasting statement.