One of the most frequently asked questions I get asked is, “Where are you from?” or (even more frequently), “What are you???” I’d always answer the first one with my hometown (yeah – suburbia, USA) but what they were really asking was what my ethnicity was. Yep, I’m one of those ambiguous types. A mix. My dad’s Polish and my mom’s Japanese…
When I was younger, I always assumed that I looked blatantly Asian (still kind of do). It wasn’t until later in life that I was suddenly some sort of exotic mix. Growing up, the way people responded to the way I looked really affected how I felt about my hair, my skin, my eyes… me – and I never really felt confident about any of it. I would look through fashion magazines, trying to figure out what skin tone I had so I knew what makeup palette to use. Am I olive? Yellow? The reality was that I was some sort of combination of both (there’s that ambiguity again). But there was no slot that I fit into, none of the pictures of the models looked like me.
I was speaking to Elle and Neada, my fellow mixed ladies in the studio, about what they went through and it’s funny how we experienced so many of the same things. We all get the “What are you?” question on the regular, we all had to figure out how to tailor beauty trends to our particular ethnicities (or mix of), and none of us ever fit into the “box” (thanks, Barbie).
Elle has naturally curly hair that she blow dries (John Freida Frizz-Ease is her go-to) — making it straighter made it more manageable for her to style growing up. Neada took a long time to work out the perfect blend for her skin tone (MAC concealer, Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer).
And one other thing that we all have in common is that we moved to New York. Here, you find yourself suddenly surrounded by gorgeous, ethnically ambiguous people – and it makes you feel so much more comfortable in your own skin (we all agreed that we’ve never felt more beautiful than we have being here).
But maybe that’s just how the world is moving? A more global world might mean that we’re all embracing a more diverse beauty look (about time!)? And I don’t think it’s just limited to those who are mixed, but all types.
So I want to hear, whether you’re a mix or not, what are some of the beauty challenges you’ve run into – whether it was how other people tried to label you or maybe finding good products for a specific skin or hair type? And did you ever find a good resolution for it?
What was your beauty experience growing up?
Model: Camilla Engstrom.