Stories of Resilience:

Speak Up When You Can

Her Story:

Name: Giulia Baldini
Born: Firenze (Florence, Italy)
Lives: Jersey City, NJ/New York City, N.Y.
Handle: @thecurlyflower

I was born into some sort of privilege that a lot of Black and Brown Italians don’t experience (citizenship at birth, stable middle class, healthy nuclear family). Because of the environment I grew up in, I was expected to not expand certain curiosities of mine and not dive into my Brazilian side. To many people, my Blackness wasn’t as relevant as my Italian heritage to study, connect with, or be proud of.

An academic path was more important than anything else. My love for the Arts (screenwriting, acting, dancing, modelling) and sports (swimming) was crushed when I was very young because I wouldn’t see my parents investing time and effort in pushing me to pursue any of them, along with the fact that when I was younger there was no Black or Brown representation in Italian media, academia, even less in the creative industries. For this reason, school was the only outlet I could freely and fully perform and devote my interests in.

During my last two years of high school. I had stopped straightening my hair and started dying it blonde. I was the only Black girl in high school with my hair like that. I could see I was “normal” like so many other girls on social media because a lot of girls from the USA and UK looked like me, but I knew that I couldn’t be normal anymore in Italy. It was then that I started having a hate/love relationship with Italy. I felt like my own country didn’t like me, people who looked like me, and I was getting really mad about it.

Being quiet among close-minded people when I could have taken up so much space with my voice.
When did you begin to realize you had to make a change?: When I moved to the USA I didn’t find the paradise I thought I would have encountered as a Black woman, but I knew that the power of community and storytelling was the key I was never able to grasp in Italy. It was during my sophomore year in college at Hofstra University that I realized I had to make a change for myself, first, and the community I was part of, second. I still didn’t know who and what was my community made of, but the one that I had found in the USA suited me the most.

By speaking up and doing every activity I could think of that would have been judged back home. Open mic nights, listening to rap, enjoying festivals, skating, skateboarding, hiking, going out to concerts and clubs, attending fashion shows, castings, and creative projects (which led me to more serious paths, eventually), traveling to places you barely hear of in Italy (San Juan, PR, Atlanta, GA, etc.). I started doing everything I wanted while sharing my stories of ups and downs. I wanted to feel welcomed and seen as much as represent the underrepresented with my words. I started being authentic and balancing my heritages, cultures, and identities all in one soul. That is why I define myself as a creative because creatives are by default problem solvers that use their skills and think out of the box under unfamiliar circumstances. That has been me, boldly and loudly, since 2016. My internal healing was my first problem-solving activity.

As bittersweet as it sounds, I never had a person I could really call a mentor. Everything that I have done is the result of my own strength and authenticity. One day, I still hope to have a mentor, a long-term and lasting figure I can relate to 100%. But I don’t want to wait till that day, and so I started mentoring womxn at “Fashion On The Beat”. Now I believe I gathered enough constructive and solid knowledge to share with younger journalists and upcoming creatives.

Reading and extra-curricular activities helped me lots. I’d say that even a few academic courses in college (from my minor in Civic Engagement at Hofstra University) were really game-changers in my path.

A romantic heartbreak. The heartbreak in 2018 led me to depression, which eventually exposed me to see and analyze a high number of cultural and personal traumas that I had swept under an imaginary carpet for way too long. This impacted my writing, studies, and well-being.

There were many different brief moments that were able to serve me to get through to the other side. The most significant one was my trip to San Juan in Puerto Rico. The first two days I was by myself in a land that made me feel safe, warm, and at home, in perfect balance with my heritages and in love with my body. After a very long time, I stopped crying every day and felt grateful for life, for the person I am, my love languages, and my purpose in life, which I thought I had lost: to represent the underrepresented.

It all started with a WordPress blog. Fast forward to 2020, I published a book and in 2021 I built my brand and made my editorial collective official and open to the public, a global one.

I admit that I’m still very hard on myself. I still do feel behind compared to what I see and consume, especially by being in a fast environment like New York City and the whole USA. I am very ambitious with my vision and goals, as well as meticulous and pragmatic with my capabilities. I know from experience that I don’t have the luxury to wait, stay quiet, or just throw words like *manifesting*. Sometimes I wish I could take life a little bit easier and softer on me, but if not now, I’m sure that time will come on my end in the future.

I want to grow my readership, through my newsletter and audience engagement on our platforms. I want our audience satisfied and happy with the content we work on. I want to solidify this sustainable editorial ecosystem through healthy connections and heartfelt engagement.

Sustainability, transparency, and equity. These three values reflect the kind of environment I want to create in media, but also speak for the type of individual I am: a person who wants to live well, with authenticity and inclusion, respectfully and intentionally.

Speak up when you can. Your work, whatever that is, has an audience that waits for you. Show off and show up for the values you believe in. Apply pressure to showcase your most authentic self.

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