I have met quite a number of powerful women. They are successful leaders in their fields, women who have ‘been there and done that’, having experienced and lived their lives beyond my twenty-six years. There is the powerful businesswoman, the powerful lawyer, the powerful banker, the powerful entrepreneur, the powerful homemaker- but none of whom are quite like Dr Loretta Chen.
‘My definition of being empowered is being able to be self-confident, knowing who you are…but more importantly, being empowered means you pay it forward… because I realize a lot of women are empowered, but they are not empowering. I think it is very important to be empowered, and recognize that it is a privilege…not a given.’
Dr Loretta Chen is fun, smart, sassy and super stylish. Punctually arriving at the Ann Teoh atelier with a crystal-encrusted cane wearing an all-black dress with faux-leather trimmings, intentionally exposing a thigh high leg brace (a fashion statement in its own right after an accident while surfing), Dr Loretta Chen is quite the character.
‘If women can gain access to money or spending power, then spend a little bit…get yourself a nice outfit. That is the instant boost…it’s the instant thing to make yourself not feel like a sack…’
Speaking with her at the Ann Teoh atelier, Loretta displayed such an admirable sense of confidence and finesse, and I realized that I was truly speaking with an empowered woman who is so generous and genuine with her advice.
An author, radio DJ, theater director, television presenter, lecturer, consultant (not spelt out in any particular order) Dr Loretta Chen has evidently accomplished many titles under her name. Her recent tell-all autobiography titled ‘Woman On Top’ gives us a raw glimpse into her whirlwind life in the past, which she tells from her heart with such honesty and openness while recounting some of the saddest and darkest moments of her life.
I asked Loretta how she does it. How does one draw strength when faced with such hardship and adversity?
“The irony is…it’s often the women from first world countries that have no self-confidence and low self esteem. Whenever I travel to Cambodia, Vietnam… I work with so many women shelters and I work with rescued sex workers, and one of the stories that I will always remember…is that I went to a women’s shelter…and (there) are girls and they are between the ages of eight to eighteen and they are sold into sexual slavery…I remember asking them through a translator ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ They all say ‘I want to be a doctor, a lawyer, a nurse, a teacher’ and because they want to help other people. And it really puts things in perspective, because here are eight, nine, ten year-olds whose bodies (had) been broken, abused and sexually humiliated in the most horrifying ways, and here they are still saying ‘We want to help other people!’
That just puts it into perspective for me, so I think gaining perspective is one of the best ways to opening yourself up to realizing that you’re not the only one and you certainly don’t need to be a victim of your circumstance because some of these women are truly victims of their circumstance… and I mean, I’m not belittling anyone’s pain in more established first-world nations but we do sometimes allow ourselves to be victimized…
I think that’s also why I love the oceans and the mountains so much, because you realize you’re so, so small… and your pain, or your fears or your insecurities is so small compared to so many other things.”
Dr Loretta Chen is currently based in Hawaii with her husband and has two books set to be released this year.
‘I think an empowered woman should have a lot of compassion as well. And it always helps to have a nice dress too!’