Livein Magazine, in occasion of US Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day March 8th, has decided to bring to its readers and viewers a very controversial topic that, unfortunately, does not get mainstream attention as it should, considering that it is about women current situation and perspective in contemporary China. We have interviewed Caterina Han. From Beijing. In New York.

Hi Caterina, first of all, tell us something about you and your background.

I earned my Bachelor degree in Business Administration in Sydney, Australia, then returned to my hometown Beijing. I came to the US for graduate school after 6 years working for the United Nations and foreign diplomatic missions in China; during those times I also developed a rigorous yoga practice and trained as a yoga instructor. To pursue a deeper path to make an impact in my professional career and personal endeavor, I took a career break after my initial ‘diplomatic’ work experience and opened my yoga studio in busy CBD Beijing. It was an enriching experience on my personal development as I got to step outside the usual 9-5 routine and for the first time to work as an entrepreneur, which at the time the term and concept have not become as prominent as present time in China.

Somehow ever since I moved to the US, after finished graduate school I tried to inspire my professional life – focused on Real Estate – looking at the example of successful creative entrepreneurs, in order to be able to make an impact and being a game changer in what I do. Working in real estate in the Capital of the world has brought me to an incredible platform, and to work with some of the best and well-known real estate prominent personalities in the Country.

You mentioned to me before that you have observed and reflected on how western women portray themselves and the continuous and committed effort of claiming their status and rights not only on mainstream but in daily life too.

Yes, I have focused my attention on two very different phenomena which I think are somehow related. On one side, the recent #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have reminded me how women in western countries, have been fighting and protesting (sometimes in very loud and harsh ways, like marches and rallies) for their rights and the recognition of their distinctive role in family, society, and work. On the other side, I have always been fascinated by Western women esthetic, very often driven in a way to empower confidence and beauty but also to boost sensuality and power. And, despite the large diversity and “melting pot” existing in America and in particular in New York City, I haven’t seen this presence or such an image portray on Asian women, especially Chinese, or of mature age. So I couldn’t help myself but wonder why I don’t see any Asian/Chinese mature woman as an influential figure on TV shows, films, billboards, commercials and print magazines? What makes them excluded in US mainstream rhetoric, in the city which embrace diversity?

Let’s try to make a comparison with the current paradoxical situation in China about unmarried women over their 30s, the so-called “leftovers”, who are actually a very strong component of Chinese economy and society.

Well, if that is the situation in America, in China the phenomenon is much more spread and deep and finds its roots in Chinese traditional culture and value systems.

As a matter of fact, in China women who are not married before their 28-30 years old, no matter their social/economic/educational background or situation, are labeled literally as “leftovers”, and – shockingly – nobody questions this categorization and the status-quo, not even the victimized women directly involved. This issue is perceived as just a fact, an inevitable occurrence for those “guilty” of not settling at the age set by tradition and society’s status quo: this opinion is rooted so deeply and firmly in people’s mind, that not only nobody thinks how insulting and offensive is this labelling, but the topic is often the best punch-line in popular jokes and the subject of sarcasm and irony against – again – often young, well educated pretty girls.

As I said, the “leftovers” themselves do not object to this situation, embarrassed to discuss the topic and are resigned to find a way to live along with it. As I observe more and more, the way Western women stand for themselves and fight for what they believe in, I can’t be silent anymore. I need to stand up and say: I do not accept this insulting label by society as “leftover”. And I am going to do something about this because it is just unacceptable and I know that out there are millions of other sisters, like me, who are not accepting this deep in their hearts and yet felt helpless. Realizing that the lack of initiatives, role model, and advocacy, convinced me to take action and to not wait any longer to see a change in this context: be the change I want to see in the World.

Once this scenario became clear to me, I made up my mind and the path in front of me looks crystal clear that my purpose in life is to make a difference, make an impact in people’s lives, and in order to do this I have started building and promoting my new career and image simply as any other confident qualified solid Western woman would do! Hence I’m launching Caterina Han’s passion project – Time’s Up to Rise and Shine.

In order to reach out to mainstream media and make a direct impact, I have realised that the best way to make a difference is to rise as Brand Ambassador and testimonial for major lifestyle companies and brands (fashion, wellness, travel, hospitality), and so become an example and a role model: and with a specific business purpose in mind, i.e. Chinese buyers have become global buyers, especially women, are the biggest shoppers in the US, and I want to help businesses and media to reach out to this very lucrative portion of the market.

Which initiatives you have already put in place and what are your plans for the future?

Along with the Brand Ambassador and testimonial activity, I am pursuing a modelling career, an acting career (I was already in a movie awarded at SXSW in 2017), and a writing career: indeed, I am working on a book about this project, to empower Asian/Chinese women to come out to raise their voice and reach their highest potential in life.

When is the book going to come out?

I am still working on it, as I am also working on few workshops and to join panels where I can discuss and bring out this critical issue that people need to hear and aware.

Any last thoughts?

To mainstream media, it’s time to include, present and promote a power and influential Asian/Chinese woman to join the global movement for women’s right and fight inequality.

To my Chinese sisters, don’t be afraid, it’s time to rise and shine and show you’re not invisible!

 

Interview by Joseph Ralph Fraia – Photo by Faustino Mota

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