A writer, speaker, and media personality, she was born in Manila, Philippines, raised in Sacramento, and has spent time in Italy, France, Atlanta, and Oakland, shaping her global perspective as an advocate and voice for Asian American women. Ruby is passionate about creating media that bridges entertainment with messages of positive social change, and is currently based in New York launching a writing empowerment program called “The Glamourbaby Diaries”.
Runway2Reality interviews Ruby Veridiano, the ultimate glamour girl off to change the world.
Name: Ruby Veridiano
I went to school at the University of California, Davis, with a major in Sociology of World Development and Asian American Studies.
Glamour Girl off to Change the World: Writer/Speaker/Media Personality, and Girls Literacy & Education Initiative Ambassador for Global Organization, LitWorld
As a former spoken word artist, I have done a lot of work using poetry and art as a means to inspire positive social change among youth at U.S. Universities nationwide. I have worked with various non-profit organizations here in the States to bring arts education to classrooms, encouraging civic engagement, social action, and the empowerment of young women. Since then, I have evolved to an author, media personality and a public speaker, and work with non-profit organization LitWorld in helping to lead a Girls Literacy and Education Initiative.
Describe your Personal Style, Inspiration and Fashion Philosophy:
It’s so funny you ask- I just coined a name of my personal style (or my aspirational style) recently. I call it “Downtown Chic goes to the White House” or, “First Lady Swagger.” Haha. Think Elegant with an Edge. It’s important for me to be accessible and youthful, since I interact with a lot of young people, but I also have a new responsibility now of lecturing at Universities and speaking in front of people on the frontiers of serious topics, so I try and blend the worlds of elegance, sophistication, purpose, and edge together.
Can you tell us about your blog. How did you start? How long you've been blogging.
My blog’s old name was Glamourbaby Trails, which started as a way to document my journeys dating back to 2006, when I was touring a spoken word performer with my old group, iLL-Literacy. I was learning a lot, and growing emotionally, spiritually, and mentally during those journeys, and wanted to share the things I’ve experienced. From eating crocodile in Alabama, to celebrating the election of Barack Obama inside a tour van in Pennsylvania, to walking across Paris following the light of the Eiffel tower, I wanted to share a glimpse of my world, a world that brought
me growth, strength, and perspective.
But honestly though, at the time I was just trying to be like Kanye West. His old blog was so inspiring- he’d post something he liked, (like a sneaker or a piece of furniture), and in the process, he was curating the coolest, most avant-garde styles. Everytime I saw something, I’d be like, you know, Kanye would LOVE that. It made me feel like I could put together some cool things too, that inspired my style, taste, and creativity.
Now my new blog, The Glamourbaby Diaries, is just an online source for me to encourage my Glamourbaby philosophy: the redefinition of glamour to encompass themes of strength, passion, and social change.
Tell us about Glamour Baby Diaries.
So Glamourbaby Diaries is more than a blog. It’s also a writing empowerment program for young women that I developed in New York City last fall. I am passionate about fashion as well as changing the world, and I strived to find a space where those two things could make sense together. So then Glamourbaby Diaries was born. I created this writing workshop series where I invited young women to discuss the Sociology of Beauty and Fashion in relation to Asian women’s history. We talked about how beauty was defined in mainstream culture, and what beauty truly meant to us. The concept of beauty
can be really convoluted in the media, and it sometimes promotes the wrong things, so this workshop series encouraged participants to redefine beauty in a way that was empowering. It was really beautiful because I got a chance to bring women of different cultural backgrounds together to hear each other’s stories.
Why are you doing this [GlamourBaby Diaries]?
Here in the States, Asian and Filipina women, despite our large numbers, are not represented well in the media. There aren’t enough Asian American women on the public sphere that we could aspire to be like. Asian American stereotypes are still popular, and there are a lot of misconceptions of who and what we are. I aimed to do two things with this workshop:
1.) Create a space where Asian women can feel valued, and for them to tell their stories, and provide inspiration of strong voices from the Asian American community.
2.) Identify those impossible standards of beauty that both American and Asian culture impose on us. Asian Culture promotes this idea that we have to look Westernized to be beautiful. I disagree. We come in all shapes and colors, and I want us to embrace the natural beauty we were blessed with. We don’t need to subscribe to skin lightening or weight pressures in order to be beautiful. We have to own our beauty the way that we were made. Our natural state is MORE THAN ENOUGH to be beautiful. I’ve heard from people all around the world that they believe Filipina women are some of the most gorgeous women they’ve seen. As a Filipina, I am filled with pride, because I too, believe my fellow Filipina sisters shine with an undeniably special light. But beauty is far more than appearance, but inner strength, compassion, character. My hope is that we begin to look in, not out, for our source of beauty.
Tell us about your book, Miss Universe.
Miss Universe is a collection of poetry and narrative that encapsulates the young woman’s experience through love, heartbreak, and growth. The title is a double entendre: 1) It refers to the metaphor that young women learn to live life like it were a pageant, measuring their beauty against superficial standards, and being judged; and 2) Writing it took me on a spiritual journey. It helped me recognize the God, and the Universe, that existed in me — the ultimate source & crown of beauty. So essentially, Miss Universe refers to me, or rather, the Universe-size higher power, the infinite, transcendental beauty
that I found within.
Who and/or what inspires you?
The First Lady, Michelle Obama, is one of my biggest inspirations, especially because of the leadership and progress she represents. She’s one of the few that can appear in Vogue and Time Magazine at the same time- a blend of style, class, and most of all, purpose. That’s the kind of accomplishment and fashion philosophy I aspire for.
How can art/creativity change the world?
By reframing big concepts in ways that make it easy to understand, art and creativity are the best vessels for social change. When you create art, it’s a Universal language. It makes people feel. When you tap into the human spirit in that way, you can inspire people to find strength within themselves that they may have never known.
Do you think fashion can change the world?
Yes! Fashion defines generations. When you think about it, one of the ways we landmark times in our history is by the fashion that existed defined that era. It is an important part of our culture. Yves Saint Laurent supported the women’s movement by creating the first women’s pantsuit, a symbol of power for men. By creating a pantsuit for women, he encouraged women to challenge gender roles and pursue empowering careers. If in this same way, fashion intently created positive messages, it is a quick way for others to follow suit. (Pun intended!) :)
They say fashion is pretentious and superficial. What's your stand on this?
I don’t ignore the fact that fashion can be superficial. It is an industry that relies so much on looks, which is why I want to add another layer to the way we interact with it. I am by no means calling myself a fashion expert or a fashionista — I am still aspiring to get to that level!
But what’s important to me is not fashion- it’s Style. Style is an individual’s personal flavor that can’t be imitated. It is not something you can buy. It is an organic process of expression that reveals itself when we own who we are. It does not matter how much something costs. What matters is how you carry it. And there’s nothing more empowering than knowing who you are, and letting the world catch a glimpse of the way you shine in the midst of your expression.
You are well travelled, what's your favorite city? Why?
Many people are surprised when they hear this, but my favorite city in the whole world is Oakland, California. It is the place where my heart will always live. It is the city that taught me all the things I love most about myself.
Oakland has a culture embedded within in that thrives on the concept of community and social change. Community is so important to me, because we need a strong circle to support each other, to genuinely cheer each other on. In Oakland, it doesn’t matter what you do or what you look like. What matters is what kind of good you do. The culture of the Bay Area (Oakland, San Francisco, etc.) is one of giving back to the world. That’s why I turned out the way I did. It’s also a place of vibrant artists, musicians, and organic vegetables! You can’t go wrong with that.
Oh, and honorable mention also goes to Paris, France. It’s true what they say. It is truly a stunning city of lights.
Whether it’s a gown or a pair of Converse sneakers, always wear what you feel comfortable in. When you’re uncomfortable, it shows! You carry the dress. Don’t ever let the dress carry you.
What is your biggest splurge or the most expensive item you ever bought?
A pair of leather, over the knee boots. To survive the cruel New York winter, you need a strong (and sexy) pair of shoes!
Do you find Filipinos fashionable or fashion forward?
I find Filipinos to be the flyest things the world has ever seen. But then again, I’m biased :)
Cover, Photographed by Ivy Kirzhner
Photo 1, 2, courtesy by the author
Photo 3, 4, from Retrofit Republic lookbook