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REAL STORIES FROM REAL WOMEN

We know you're absolutely living for our Passport To Beauty Campaign that's launching our limited edition Holiday Collection. Because at The Lip Bar, we're all about cultural appreciation, we decided to interview multiple women with roots in East Asia on beauty and culture. Check out their responses below as they come from all cultural, socio-economic and geographic backgrounds. 

 

CHELSEA RACELIS 

#1. What’s your ethnicity? 
I am half Chinese (my mom is from Singapore) and half Filipina.

#2. What culture was most dominant in your household? Growing up, were your parents adamant about instilling in you racial and/or ethnic pride?
Singaporean culture was definitely most dominant in my household; my mom has a lot of pride in being Singaporean and didn't want her children to lose that part of our heritage growing up in the US. That meant we grew up with Singaporean food and holidays like Chinese New Year, and it also meant we were raised with Chinese/Singaporean/Buddhist values like family, education, and integrity.

#3. Do you think there is an overarching ideal of what is beautiful amongst your ethnicity? If so, what? 
Absolutely. In many Asian cultures - including both Chinese/Singaporean and Filipino culture - being light-skinned ("fair") is beautiful. I grew up knowing that being "tan" was a bad thing, and to avoid it by covering up in the sun, not staying outside too long, and using skin-lightening products.

#4. How do you think the culture of your family informed your ideals of beauty? How has the affected you as you’ve evolved into an adult? 
I didn't know how much it had influenced my idea of my own beauty until I looked in the mirror one day two summers ago and realized it was the first time I genuinely thought I looked beautiful when I was tan. I was 21. I'd spent my whole life just accepting that I'm going to be uglier in the summer because I love being outside and didn't care enough about my looks to sacrifice that.

#5. Has your perspective on beauty changed as you’ve gotten older? 
Over the past year or two, I've been working on loving my tan skin. I've been lucky to have role models in women of color who love their tan or dark skin, who show off their glow in the summer (and all year round)! I'm realizing that beauty is not objective - it's a feeling. I've been trying this thing recently where my goal is to never leave a mirror feeling "meh" about my reflection; I will literally stand in front of that mirror until I feel fabulous.

#6. At what point in your life do you think your ideals of beauty have been challenged?
That moment two summers ago was definitely a turning point for me. But I think all of college has been a turning point - I've been surrounded by people of so many different identities (ethnicity, gender, body type, etc.) who express their beauty in such authentic ways, and it's inspired me to find my own expression.

 

  

IFY ODUM  

 

#1. What’s your ethnicity?

I’m half Cambodian and half Nigerian   

#2. What culture was most dominant in your household? Growing up, were your parents adamant about instilling in you racial and/or ethnic pride?

Both cultures were present in my house hold but I will say that my Nigerian side was more prominent due to having my father’s family living in the states compared to most of my mother’s side being in Cambodia. My parents were always talking about culture and the pride that we must take in our roots. Till this day they make sure we remain proud of where we come from.

#3. Do you think there is an overarching ideal of what is beautiful amongst your ethnicity? If so, what?
Yes of course! The ideal is European standards, lighter skin, straight long hair etc. But I’m starting to see the shift in Nigerian culture to be more accepting of their skin, hair texture, and natural curvaceous features. I’d say Cambodians have a long way to go.
#4. How do you think the culture of your family informed your ideals of beauty? How has the affected you as you’ve evolved into an adult?
I love my mother so much but as a child and young girl, it was confusing at times because much of my beauty ideals came from her, yet we have differing features. As a child you don’t understand why your hair isn’t as straight and long as your mom’s. My aunts on my dads side weren’t very helpful either because they too were caught up in old westernized beauty standards, now they’re thinking has gotten a lot better with information being more accessible. As I’ve evolved into a woman, I’ve had to do my own research and ask myself honest questions. What does being beautiful mean to me? And how will I define it? I'm a work in progress but my culture has allowed me to see that beauty comes in many forms.
#5. Has your perspective on beauty changed as you’ve gotten older?
I don’t believe there is one ideal form of beauty. We are all different for a reason and much of what we aspire to be and have is far less beautiful than what we already are. My thoughts around this have changed drastically in the last few years because I understand now, that no matter what you do, if how you perceive beauty doesn’t start from the inside through self-acceptance and self-love, it’d be easy to get caught up wishing I was someone else.
#6. At what point in your life do you think your ideals of beauty have been challenged?
My ideals of beauty changed my senior year of college. I had just gotten out of a long term relationship and I had to find myself again. I had to learn how to love myself, be comfortable by myself, accept all that I was without the assurance of another person. I’ve seen so many girls evaluate their beauty on the basis of male acceptance (myself included), and when I was single I really wanted to stop that habit. It took a while, but my idea of what beauty was started to shift when I took the first step to love myself, say kind words to myself, not care what other people said about me as long as I was happy. Beauty is simple, the first step starts inside and then radiates outwards.
 
#1. What’s your ethnicity?
I am Bengali.
#2. What culture was most dominant in your household? Growing up, were your parents adamant about instilling in you racial and/or ethnic pride?
There was a balance of cultures in my home growing up. My mom grew up in the UK, so being British was an integral part of her identity as being American is a part of mine. The Bengali culture also had a strong presence in my household. All three cultures were represented in the clothes we wore, the art displayed in our home, how we spoke, and the food we ate. We spoke both English and Bangla. I think the most accurate way to describe my upbringing is Banglish.

#3. Do you think there is an overarching ideal of what is beautiful amongst your ethnicity? If so, what? 
 
Like many cultures, my culture has unfortunately fallen into the idea that dark skin is unfavorable and light skin is beautiful. There are many skin-bleaching products sold in Bangladesh that are openly advertised to the public. Colorism isn't something that's been historically shamed, but I think the Bengali people are making strides towards accepting that all skin colors are beautiful. This is especially true among younger people.

#4. How do you think the culture of your family informed your ideals of beauty? How has the affected you as you’ve evolved into an adult? 
 
My family comes from many places and as a result, my ideals of beauty are not influenced by a single culture. In my house, we embrace natural beauty and self love. Nobody in home wears much makeup. It's totally cool if someone does prefer to wear more makeup, beautiful is whatever makes a person feel good. We just prefer bare to no makeup.

#5. Has your perspective on beauty changed as you’ve gotten older?
 
My perception of beauty has evolved a lot as I've grown up. Although my family embraces natural beauty, there was a time when I couldn't leave my house without wearing makeup. I was uncomfortable in my natural skin. This period of my life was in my teenage years, when my idea of self was reflected in how the people around me viewed me. I was beautiful if other people thought I was beautiful. It took me a minute, but I grew to prefer my bare face when I decided to look good for myself. To me, my face without makeup looks like best.  

#6. At what point in your life do you think your ideals of beauty have been challenged?
 
My ideals of beauty have never directly been challenged. At least, not that I've noticed. I'm so embedded in my idea of beauty for myself that I barely pay attention to what other have to say.

 

#1. What’s your ethnicity? 

 I'm Chinese 

#2. What culture was most dominant in your household? Growing up, were your parents adamant about instilling in you racial and/or ethnic pride?

Off the record, my home experience was different my parents came as immigrants so they didn’t have the best experience so they assimilated us to American culture—- but because I was raised by forced more American values than Chinese so they wanted us to have great opportunity but in high school lots of black culture because the families that raised me were black. 

#3. Do you think there is an overarching ideal of what is beautiful amongst your ethnicity? If so, what? 

Yeah absolutely, the one thing I appreciate about my ethnicity is delicacy and purity. So when I see Chinese women it’s a little bit of delicacy and purity with a lot of individualism. Asian women have their own style and they can bring elegance and beauty to whatever style it is— it does matter if it’s on trend or not. 

#4. How do you think the culture of your family informed your ideals of beauty? How has the affected you as you’ve evolved into an adult? 

 We don’t talk about beauty often so like being yourself and being very natural. You don’t have to use makeup to redefine who you are you use makeup to enhance your features. You are who you are. My moms the biggest proponent. It shouldn’t be used to turn you into a different person. 

#5. Has your perspective on beauty changed as you’ve gotten older? 

 As I’ve gotten older, you get more comfortable. What people traditionally see as beautiful — if I’m comfortable with myself or feel good on the inside.If I don’t have that effort or don’t want to do it today— I just do what I want and forget what other people or how others perceive what I’m bringing to the table. 

#6. At what point in your life do you think your ideals of beauty have been challenged?

 The first time it was challenged was when I was driving to school, picked up my boyfriend and while I was driving I was trying to do makeup and my boyfriend said, " Why are you putting on makeup while driving?" I figured that I didn't actually need to wear makeup that day if it meant doing it at an inconvenience. Now,  I don’t need to wear makeup like I used to think I did. Then, I shaved the side of my head when my dad passed. It was that moment when I realized whatever we’re feeling on the inside we want it reflected on the outside, and am the time I felt like crap and I thought what defines me was my long hair so I was going to get rid of it. 

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