You’re too young to know anything, much less stand for causes.
Not to be dismissed easily for her young age of 23, fashion marketing student Samantha Lara shares why she is not letting age stereotypes hold her back from fighting for causes and supporting her dream.
Hi Samo! You’re a long way from home–Mexico. What was it that attracted you to make the move to Singapore?
Diversity has been a large part of my life being in a Mexican-Spanish family, and vibrant conversations have always been something I assimilate with even in new environments. I left Mexico City at 20 for Singapore to pursue new opportunities with a six-month fashion course.
It was my first chance to live abroad, and the first country I visited in Asia. My first year here wasn’t easy, being young and away from home. Singaporeans were not as open to conversations with strangers compared to Mexicans or other folks I’ve met on my travels, and it wasn’t easy to find my bearings. Fast forward to three years later, I’m enjoying and embracing the melting pot of cultures in Singapore. I’ve found belonging and community, and I’m enjoying my academic career in fashion marketing and management.
How do you deal with not fitting in?
It’s important to find a support system. I’m glad to have found a community of like-minded friends in Singapore, and it definitely helps that I’m naturally optimistic! You’re your own biggest cheerleader. Of course, I miss home too, so I try to go home once a year to visit my parents and cousins.
You travelled across the world to pursue fashion as a career and fashion sustainability as a cause. Was fashion always your first love?
I studied medicine for three years before I decided that it wasn’t for me. Practising medicine in Mexico is not as simple as a measure of your skills and experience.
It was that experience that shaped me. I’m a feminist, and I’m proud of it. I stand for women empowerment and I want to be part of that movement to make gender inequality a thing of the past, or rather, backward thinking, so that future generations would not have to face the discrimination and unjust treatment women still face to date.
Growing up, I rebelled against the notion that women should live their lives in a way dictated to them that made them inferior compared to men.
You’re really passionate about your beliefs! How does that passion translate to everyday actions?
My family has commented on several occasions that I should have been a lawyer since I like to fight for causes. Besides women empowerment, I’m also a big activist for animals! I’ve been a vegetarian and vegan for five years. I support PETA causes and on a personal note, I shop more consciously and only support product and brands that are against animal testing.
At home, my aunt, whom I talked to about the causes I love, has started a community to house street dogs and provide a temporary safe house for them. She offers treatment and adoption drives to find new homes for them. I’m glad that my passion for animals has also inspired my loved ones!
How did you first find interest in medicine?
While I was inspired by my parents who are medical professionals in the medical field, I saw too many instances where my mom was dismissed by her peers because she was a woman, and not because of her capabilities and merits. But my mom, being the strong woman and role model she is, pulled her weight to come to work in her best–I love her fashion and makeup–while raising a family. She is resilient, and I really admire that about her.
What will you do next?
After graduation, I intend to participate more actively in things I believe in–fashion styling, sustainability and gender equality. Movements that are big on diversity, equality, community and inclusivity really draws me and excites me. I love fighting for things I believe in, regardless of my age.
In your opinion, is sustainability a trend/fad or is it here to stay?
Sustainability is something close to my heart. Growing up so close to nature in Mexico, I’m able to witness first-hand the effects of poor recycling, unhealthy plastic consumption, and lack of initiatives.
- Home: Start with your home or your family. While it’s small, every effort counts. I remember posting notes all over the house when growing up to remind them to turn off the lights if not in use or to be more conscious about water wastage. It was innate and fun to increase awareness and encouraging perspective from a young age.
- Lifestyle: Of course, you can also reduce your plastic use when you buy takeaway drinks at cafes and local coffee shops.
- Fashion: I love the concept of sharing a wardrobe to reduce fashion consumption, so that was why I worked at Fashion Revolution and subscribed to Style Theory since its early years. It’s more than just fashionable clothes for work and travel. It’s about being conscious of how to remain stylish in a financially and environmentally sustainable way. It’s also important to know where your clothes come from and its impact on the environment!
Rent from Samantha’s top picks:
Beat the stereotypes and embraces the differences. Find out more about our celebration about diversity in our community from our interview series: