Katie Couric, renowned journalist, author, business woman, mother and wife, started a global project with women recently. She traveled to Japan, China, Korea and USA to exercise her investigative journalism skills to beautiful use.
The award-winning journalist, partnered with skincare brand SK-II on a new docu-series, “Timelines,” that explores the societal expectations women face globally surrounding the topic of marriage within the brand’s #ChangeDestiny campaign. What I admire about this project is that Katie celebrates women who put their careers first, regardless of societal pressures — no matter what their path may be.
I wish “Timelines” existed when I was younger, as it brought back tears and old memories. It made me feel more inspired and much stronger from within, as it reinforces the fact that we need to love ourselves more and never let societal pressure hold us back. It’s so empowering, because it encourages women to shape their own destiny, which should not be a matter of chance but a matter of choice.
This campaign resonates with me, because my parents are very traditional, old-school and strict. They used to criticize my school work, so I was lonely and didn’t socialize growing up. I know they cared, but they just didn’t show it the way I needed it. They thought the more they forbid me, the more 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 gave me tolerance. There’s no criticism from anyone else that I can’t take, thanks to Mom. After I graduated from college, they pressured me to get married, because they wanted grandchildren. By the time I was 26 years old and still single, my parents called me a piece of “Christmas cake.” I was past 25 years old, so Mom told me to get married before 31 years old, or else I’d become an expired, stale piece of “New Years cake,” or an “old maid.” It made me very lonely and sad, because I knew my parents were disappointed.
Regardless of what my traditional parents preached, I know they meant well. I defied their age-related pressure, started working after I graduated, and purchased my first home. My parents lost all hope in me, until when I finally got married and had my first child after I settled on my career, which was 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 family’s expectations. I turned out more than OK, as I am now a very happy mom, wife and a working professional. Finally, I accomplished something so wonderful that even my Mom learned that cakes don’t have to expire!
Below is SK-II’s partnership with Katie Couric to launch “Timelines,” a four-part docu-series furthering the brand’s commitment to this cause.
In “Timelines New York,” Katie meets Maluca, a musician and her mother Liz, to explore the generational shift that has happened and what’s most important: a plan or a dream?
“Timelines Tokyo” reveals how Katie meets Maina, a fashion buyer and her mother and grandmother, Yumiko and Sahako, to explore what it means to be marriageable in a country with a tradition of conformity.
“Timelines Shanghai” shares how Katie meets Chun Xia, an award-winning Chinese actress and SK-II Global Brand Ambassador, and her childhood best friend, Dan Hua. Together they explore just how different expectations you can have on life, even though you grew up together.
“Timelines Seoul” reveals how Katie meets Nara, an artist and influencer, and her mother, Soon, who love each other very much but live in two different worlds. Together they try to navigate what it means to follow your own timeline in a country rapidly changing but grappling with traditional values.
Recently, I had the honor to interview Katie about “Timelines,” which you can learn more about below.
BL: You’re a renowned American Journalist, business woman, author, mother and wife. Why do you take time out of your incredibly busy schedule to help young women in different parts of the world challenge conventional norms and try to create their own destinies?
KATIE COURIC: Because it’s so important. You know, I think that when you have a bully pulpit or you have any influence in the world it’s important to use it effectively and responsibly. There still are many cultures that are in the midst of massive transformation and the role of women is continuing to change and evolve. And I think if we can help unleash the power of the majority of the population in the world, it not only will change the picture financially and make countries much better off, but it will be a way to make women feel much more fulfilled and also able to contribute to the world in a positive way… So why wouldn’t I?
BL: Did you ever experience pressure from your parents to get married and have children?
KATIE COURIC: No, I didn’t. I think probably when I was 30, I thought I’d achieved a certain level of success and I need to probably focus on this part of my life, because I always wanted to have a life partner – whether that meant being married or just having a life partner. I mean, I’m pretty traditional so I probably did really want to be married. At that point, I started focusing on it… I made a transition from focusing 110% on my career, to focusing on my career but also leaving room for finding a partner – and that’s when I got a little more serious about dating someone I could see spending the rest of my life with, and that’s when I met my husband Jay. It’s about timing, it’s about a lot of things, I think, when you meet the right person. But I did think about it at that time.
A specific time stands out in my mind… I remember seeing Cassie Mackin – who died of cancer and who was a correspondent for ABC News – when she was buried, and all her pole bearers were very significant people in the world, like Teddy Kennedy and others, and I remember thinking I love my job but I also want to have a life outside my job. And that was something that influenced me, as a young woman in her 20’s, to say you know, this is part of my life that I also want to be fulfilled in.
BL: Do your daughters discuss to you about any expectations and pressures they may encounter from society about marriage and children?
KATIE COURIC: No, I think they’ve really gone at their own pace and forged their own paths. I think if anything, I really encourage them to explore and see the world… Carrie is only 23, so she just graduated from college and then graduate school, and Ellie, my oldest daughter, is getting married next July – and you know, I respect her timeline just as I would respect anyone’s. So I think this conversation really goes both ways. If someone wants to take a “more traditional” path, then her wishes should be valued and respected as well. I think we all have to stop judging each other for our life choices – just period, end of sentence.
BL: What advise do you give young women today who are trying to create their own paths in life?
KATIE COURIC: I think they should listen to their own internal GPS, figure out their goals in life, and recognize that you can have personal and professional goals that can mutually coexist. Also, that you have to do what’s right for you know. We’re so programmed to be pleasers, I think that you ultimately really have to please yourself. Do what you want to do but also listen to your inner voice and pay attention to the things you want. And lastly, not to be ashamed for wanting to be happy and in all areas of your life.