Yari Blanco is a lover of all things media. You can catch her flipping through Marie Claire for fashion inspo or reading first-person lifestyle pieces on Refinery29. But, as an Afro-Latina, she rarely finds narratives or images of women like her on print or web pages. That’s why she founded the Girl Mob, a website that celebrates the multidimensionality of millennial women of color.
“It’s really a reflection of young women and the many layers that make them up,” the New York-based Dominican-Spaniard told us. “You’re allowed to be ratchet on Saturday night and go to church on Sunday. You’re allowed to be both and all.”
Blanco believes ethnic publications exist in silos, disregarding multiracial and multicultural women like her. A reader of Latina and Essence, she is creating a space where content that may be found exclusively on one of the pages of the respective magazines can live together on the Girl Mob, just how the young women of color who follow the site fancy their content.
“I wanted to create a space that bridges the gap between women of color, so that all of us can get to know each other,” Blanco, 31, said. “Our stories might not be the same, but there will be common themes.”
The Girl Mob’s pink lightening logo perfectly describes its content: Natural, electrifying, bright and ultra femme. Its team, made up of 10 Black and brown women based in New York, and three contributors from different parts of the country, tackle issues like mental health, self-care, sex, politics, social justice, beauty, fashion, travel and food.
Each month, there’s a theme that informs their coverage. For May, it’s body positivity and sex. Recent posts include an in-depth interview with clinical sexologist Shannon Boodram, a list of sex-positive, bopo mujeres to follow – including Dascha Polanco and Denise Bidot – a personal essay about being a video vixen and more.
But Blanco didn’t just create the Girl Mob to fill a coverage gap. Another crack the New Yorker wants to fill is the one keeping career women of color from climbing to the top.
“I’ve been in corporate marketing for 10 years, and I felt like anytime I was around a female executive, I didn’t feel welcome, especially with women of color. And that really bothered me. I felt like, damn, if you are way ahead of the curb, my expectation is that I will be able to learn from you without you thinking I’m trying to take your job or that I’m below you. I wanted to create a space where people felt welcome and lead by example,” she said.
Blanco and her team aren’t just doing this through first-person stories, interviews and photo essays, either. The girls throw monthly events in the community for the women holdin’ them down.
This year alone the Girl Mob, which launched in 2016, has organized a trap aerobics class and a clothing swap, with 10 bags of stylish garbs going to a local homeless shelter. You can even catch them giving workshops, on panels or operating a booth at festivals like AfroPunk.
For Blanco, “the sky’s the limit.” Her hope is to expand and monetize the brand, so that the Girl Mob is able to reach women who don’t live in major cities and might lack the option to attend dope cultural events or see themselves reflected in media. “We want to talk to the brown girl in the middle of the country that doesn’t feel she has anyone to talk to,” she said.
Whether online or at an in-person affair, Blanco wants every mujer it reaches to feel like they’re a part of the mob.
"I want them to leave feeling that they’re loved and appreciated, and that we are really here to be their friend,” she said.