My parents are very traditional, old-school, strict Asian parents. They used to criticize me about my school work, so I was lonely and didn’t have friends growing up. I know they care about me but they just don’t show it the way I needed it. They believe the more they forbid me, the more they think I will want to succeed and prove them wrong. They wanted me to be dissatisfied with my accomplishments, so I can work harder to have a better future than what they provided me with. I must admit — their traditional parenting approach, especially my Mom’s, gave me tolerance. There is no criticism from anyone else that I can’t take, thanks to my Mom.

After I graduated from college, my parents were looking forward to me getting married, because they wanted grandchildren. But by the time I was 26 years old and still single with no boyfriend, my parents referred me to a piece of “Christmas cake.” I was past 25 years old, so Mom told me to aim for marriage before I turn 31 years old to avoid becoming a stale piece of “New Years cake,” or an “old maid.” 

Regardless of what my traditional old school Asian parents preached — I know they meant well, and just wanted the best for me. I defied their age-related pressure, started working after I graduated, then used my savings on a down payment on my first home. My parents lost all hope on me, until when I finally got married and had my first child way past the expiration date of a piece of New Years cake.  I learned how to love myself, and allowed myself the freedom to defy my Mom’s traditional age-related expectations. I turned out more than OK, as I am now a very happy, proud mom, wife and working professional. Finally, I accomplished something so great that even my Mom approves of — a taste of my special version of Christmas and New Years cakes that do not expire!

Like my younger myself, many women today are constantly trying to look and feel more youthful. It may be trying new beauty and skincare products, cleansing regimen or learning about a new exercise routine. Even those who are in their 20’s and 30’s in today’s modern times turn to Botox or go under the knife. We all know that it’s not humanly possible to defy age and time, yet many us dread looking and feeling older.

I know I certainly don’t want to feel like an “expiration date” all over again. When I learned about SK-II’s global #INeverExpire campaign for the first time recently, I wished it existed when I was younger. This campaign brought back tears and old memories. It made me feel more inspired and much stronger from within. My best friend also agrees that SK-II’s message is very powerful, because it reinforces the fact that we need to love ourselves more and never let age-related pressure hold us back. Love is unconditional and priceless, and there is no amount of money that can buy true love. It’s an invaluable feeling that will never ever expire!

Millennial women today share their own stories in hopes of changing dialogue too. Renowned skincare SK-II always encourage women to challenge the belief that destiny is set at birth — for both their skin and their lives — with its ongoing global #ChangeDestiny campaign. For many years, SK-II inspired and celebrated the changes that women create in their lives via stories that empower them to challenge conventional norms and create their own destinies. SK-II extends from Asia its latest #INeverExpire campaign to the U.S. as the brand continues to fuel conversations around the issues that hold women back. The #INeverExpire initiative pinpoints the topic of age-related pressure, inspiring women to liberate themselves from societal expectations around age and live their lives on their own terms!

SK-II is shedding light on the fact that age-related pressure impacts women with different nuances around the world. The U.S. campaign is launched with a series of empowering videos, bringing to life the authentic age-related pressures experienced by real women. They discuss and share the manifestations of age-related pressures in America, from overt societal biases to the unconscious self-imposed barriers and expectations. Featuring five dynamic personalities – Chloe Bennet, actress; Elaine Welteroth, award-winning journalist and former editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue; Aimee Song, fashion influencer and founder of the blog Song of Style; Lauren “KITTENS” Abedini, DJ and producer; and Sophia Amoruso, CEO and founder of GirlBoss – the videos introduce #INeverExpire to a new audience in the U.S. 

This global #INeverExpire campaign made me weep, as I reminisced about what I went through with my parents, especially with my Mom, when I was young. It premiered last year in Asia with The Expiry Date, a moving film that powerfully showcases the proverbial expiration date — age 30 — that many women feel. This film received more than 100 million global views across all platforms and sparked a Pan-Asian discussion around age-related pressure.

Reflecting on themes observed in The Expiry Date, five women shared their personal experiences, in hopes of inspiring more conversations that challenge the social stigmas placed on women throughout the different stages of their lives. The first video that launched on April 30, 2018 features actress, Chloe Bennet. Per Ms. Bennet, actress in ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., “Age pressure exists all over the world, whether you’re in Asia, the U.S. or anywhere else. There’s this unwritten timeline for women that’s imposed by society. But ultimately, we each have a voice deep down that tells us what we really want and should do for ourselves — that’s what we need to listen to. I’m finally learning what makes me, Chloe, happy versus what makes everyone else happy. Only I have lived my journey, so I don’t listen to society’s expectations of who they think I should be. It’s time to change the conversation.”

The next video features four accomplished women, as they discuss age pressure as part of SK-II’s #INeverExpire campaign. Watch and get inspired as Elaine Welteroth, Aimee Song, Sophia Amoruso and Lauren Abedini talk about age-related pressures — from marriage to babies to careers. Inspired by SK-II’s film The Expiry Date, these women share how they choose to live life on their own terms, regardless of society’s unwritten timelines. 

Elaine Welteroth, award-winning journalist and former editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue stated, “We need to unsubscribe ourselves from age pressure. In the U.S., we are re-evaluating social norms that have historically suppressed women, but at the same time, these milestones and expectations still exist. Early on in my career, I felt pressure to pretend I was older so that I would be respected and taken seriously. Now, I look back and think of what I’ve accomplished by a certain age and I’m proud. I can’t wait to see where I’m headed.”

Aimee Song, fashion influencer and founder of the blog Song of Style advised, “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still trying to figure it all out. Confidence doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s amazing to know that we’re all just trying to find our own path and define our own journey. It’s so important not to compare ourselves to others since there’s no reason to adhere to a mold that someone else sets for you.”

Lauren “KITTENS” Abedini, DJ and producer confessed, “I had a ‘quarter life crisis’ when I was about 25. I was not where I thought I would be in my life or career, and I didn’t feel successful. Walking in that darkness is scary; you feel alone in that uncertainty. It took me a while to move past it, but I was eventually able to brush off the societal pressures. And now, I’m finally looking forward to what lies ahead for me. Age pressures shouldn’t dictate my life because they aren’t real.”

Sophia Amoruso, CEO and founder of GirlBoss suggested, “Feeling that you’ve ‘expired’ is a dangerous thing to tell yourself. Everything you need to learn will be presented to you in good time, probably in the form of challenges. All of our hurdles lead us somewhere new, and now, I don’t worry about any timeline society tries to force on me. I’ve learned that life is a marathon, not a sprint, and I’m finally slowing down. Whether it’s in our career or in our personal life, we have plenty of time to achieve what we want. We don’t have to do it all by the time we’re 30.”