Teen takes New York Fashion Week by storm, combines creativity with activism to stop Asian hate

LOWER EAST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- She is just 13 years old, and like most kids her age, Ashlyn So loves fashion.

In fact, she is a designer and is taking New York Fashion Week by storm. What makes her stand out is that she combines her creativity with activism to stop Asian hate.

So is from the Bay Area, and her collection is born from the hurt of a community's collective trauma - pouncing down the runway of New York Fashion Week.

"Some of the pieces have a lot of repeating objects. Kind of like a storyline. It started with a couple of people, then it turned into a community, and then it turned into this mass movement," So said.

This is So's third fashion week. However, this time down the runway it is different. The 'Stop Asian Hate' movement, she says, helped her find her voice.

"I thought I'd never find a way to never be not shy. I thought I'm stuck like this forever. But I think after this year, I just broke out of my shell," she said.

So calls herself an 'accidental activist,' but her execution has been deliberate. Among the rallies she organized was a black and gold unity rally.

"I saw there's a lot of tension between these two communities, and I thought were so similar in many ways. But instead of comparing our issues, we should be supporting one another," she says.
As an Asian American, she says it feels expected to be excluded. What does it say about our society that a 13-year-old has felt this much pain?

"It's ok to feel like you've been hurt, because a lot of people are feeling how you feel. That's why what you're doing is so important," said her mother, Angela Wu.

If art is a reflection of society, this middle schooler's art is giving everyone a lot to talk about - she is silent and shy no more.

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