5 Badass Asian Women to Follow on Instagram

Jackie Chan. Bruce Lee. Lucy Liu. These were the Asian role models I had while growing up. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good kung fu or Tarantino movie as much as the next moviegoer. To this day, I still worship the ground that Lucy Liu walks on. But, I really wish someone was around to show six-year-old me that there are way more ways to be Asian and badass than wielding a pair of nunchucks (although that would be a pretty cool addition to your LinkedIn) and breaking down doors with a karate chop.

So, without further ado, here are 5 badass Asian women to follow on Instagram:

1. Joyce Mao (@joyceinblack)

Image via @joyceinblack

Alright, I know I promised martial-arts-free content, but hear me out. I just couldn’t write an article about badass Asian women without mentioning runway model, NYU student, and boxer Joyce Mao. Her list of occupations is already truly something to behold, but what truly gave this 22-year-old triple threat a spot on this list is how she balances them all. In an interview with The COOLs, Mao opened up about how a black eye from a particularly sparring session had her out of modeling work for a couple of weeks. But, in Mao’s words, “[i]t was kind of cool though.” If that isn’t the dictionary definition of badass, then I don’t know what is.

2. Nadya Okamoto (@nadyaokamoto)

Image via nadyaokamoto

Nadya Okamoto is the co-founder and executive director of PERIOD, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making menstrual products readily available to people who need them. She is also the author of Period PowerA Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement and a current part of Harvard’s Class of 2020. These are only some of Okamoto’s recent successe. Given the number of achievements she’s accrued as a 21-year-old, she most definitely has plenty of time to keep changing the world. Oh, and did I mention that she ran for Cambridge City Council when she was 19? (Bet the “follow” button is looking pretty darn tempting right now, huh?)

3. Jameela Jamil (@jameelajamilofficial)

Image via jameelajamilofficial

If you enjoy discourse on existentialism and really, really bad puns, chances are you’ve at least heard of NBC’s The Good Place, in which Jamil co-stars alongside the likes of Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. But even if you haven’t seen the show, you should still insta-stalk this “feminist-in-progress.” But Jamil’s badassery (it’s a technical term, trust me) comes from how she uses her platform to tackle issues like problematic diet culture as well as the unrealistic representation of women in the media. She even started a separate Instagram page called iWeigh dedicated to encouraging us all to “see how amazing we are beyond the flesh on our bones.”

4. AWKWAFINA (Nora Lum) (@awkwafina)

Image via awkwafina

Out of all the badass women on this list, I love Awkwafina’s story the most. Partially because it starts out at Laguardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts where she studied to be a concert trumpeter, but also because what was just a passion project--her rapping career--helped her build a considerable fanbase. She has some certified bops like “My Vag” (a jab at Mickey Avalon’s “My Dick”) and, my personal favorite, “Yellow Ranger.” But like many of the women on this list, Awkwafina’s ambitions (and subsequent achievements) are multidisciplinary, à la her recent supporting role in Crazy Rich Asians. Truly badass with a capital “b.”

5. Lexie Liu (@lexieliu_)

Image via lexieliu_

One thing we as college students can all relate to is not knowing exactly who we want to be just yet. Everything about 20-year-old breakout rapper Lexie Liu’s career trajectory shows that she not only embraces that existential crisis that defines many young adults today, but she also lets it guide her. And it’s worked pretty darn well for her so far. She first started out as a contestant on the Korean idol show K-pop Star 5but even after placing fourth, she chose to return to her education and study business at NYC’s Fordham University. But, it wasn’t long before she returned to music and made waves as a contestant in China’s rap survival show Rap of China. Liu is currently signed with 88Rising, an international label and collective responsible for the break-out fame of the likes of Joji and Rich Brian.