Over the next few months, we’ll be focusing more on beauty. Rather, more on the beauty we choose to dismiss and/or makes us self conscious, different, or had an integral part in the way in which we’ve grown up. So much of who I am, has everything to do with growing up with vitiligo. It’s weird to lose that identity I bit externally, as my vitiligo on my face is mostly, no longer visible. But still, does that mean who I am because I grew up with it no longer exists? No.
Today, we get up close with Janet, as she shares a bit more about her freckles…
Tell us a little bit about yourself..
I am the “Bloom” in Sirin Bloom, which is a limited edition collection of laid back but luxurious vacation-inspired dresses. I work with my best friend, who is based in Miami; but I am a New Yorker for life—who occasionally dreams of living in a beach bungalow with lemon trees in the yard (maybe in another life). I would be devastated to leave the inspiration, diverse cultures, invincible energy, and adventure that’s intrinsic to living in NYC. I also live a short walk away from Central Park, which is ideal for life with a three-year-old. It’s our communal backyard!
What has your relationship been with your freckles?
I love my freckles, but often forget about them as they are just a part of me. People have always commented on them throughout my life, and these are the moments when I consider them. I try to focus on maintaining a healthy complexion and wear my freckles front-and-center with a little bronzer boost, but otherwise unadorned. I use Hoola bronzer by Benefit, which I’ve used for over a decade because it looks natural and blends nicely.
I try to stay away from a lot of make-up to allow my skin to breathe (and I’d rather not cover my freckles). I have been using the same Japanese foaming cleansers for almost 20 years. I discovered them in a Singaporean drugstore, but you can buy them for under $10 in almost any Asian supermarket in NY. I love the charcoal wash by Mandom; the green tea wash by Kracie; and the peach wash by Kanebo. They all smell great and leave my face feeling refreshed. I recently discovered orchid oil by Herbivore, which I use all over my face after cleansing in the morning and before bed. Just three drops makes my face nice and dewy, and the scent makes me happy. In the morning I use either Cetaphil moisturizer with SPF 30 or Olay Regenerist with SPF 30. Sunscreen is vital! I recently took two trips to Mexico a few months apart and my face looked kind of leathery after the first trip where I stuck to SPF30. I wised-up before my second trip and packed a Cerave SPF 50 with zinc and used it religiously. I highly recommend the Cerave facial sunscreen for the beach. You want to look sun-kissed, not like Magda from “There’s Something About Mary”.
At night I moisturize with Cerave night cream or good, old-fashioned La Mer when my skin is super dry. I’ve had about five facials in my life and don’t keep up with more rigorous at-home treatments. It all boils down to routine cleansing, moisturizing, and sun protection.
There’s also the whole water thing, which I do. I drink water throughout the day and try to drink at least 8 glasses, which I believe benefits my skin.
Freckles on an Asian face are pretty rare, so people often ask me about my ethnic origin, which is 100% Chinese. I love looking at old photos of my grandparents and seeing their freckles that were passed down to my father.
I grew up in New Jersey, and I was the only Asian kid in my class up until 5th grade. The other students were Caucasian. My vision of beauty at that time was defined by the other girls in my class. I was the polar opposite in terms of appearance with my darker skin, height (I was taller than the school principal who handed me my diploma at graduation in fifth grade), black hair, and Asian face. I also grew up in the 80’s and 90’s so my hair was basically permed from 4th-7th grades. I could have been in a heavy metal video with my hair.
I remember going to visit my grandmother in Taiwan when I was in 4th grade, and it took her a minute to take me in. My darker skin—the combination of genetics and sun worship—and freckles were a big contrast to her criteria of beauty. She made a quirky comment about it and then got over it. During the rest of that trip, I got a lot of Pocahontas jokes. At the time, and to this day, I see that as a compliment even if that wasn’t the intention. My grandmother always loved me and saw past my appearance, but because I only saw her every few years, there was always a moment of inspection before we got reacquainted.
Overall, I was ok with being different on the outside as a child. I think that it actually made me focus on looking at people on a deeper level and seeing beyond their appearances. It also prevented me from ever sticking to any particular clique of friends based on appearance or even ethnic background, which was great because I got the chance to click with really dynamic group of friends growing up. When I moved to NYC for college, I started modeling, and that opened a whole new world of stereotypes and snap judgements based on my looks. Unfortunately, that’s what the industry is built upon; although there are a few insiders who are working to make it more representative.
Are there any real differences in the beauty standards that surrounded you as a child that now surround your child?
Thankfully for my three-year-old daughter, the beauty standards now are light years ahead of where they were when I was growing up. Of course, living in NY offers a more diverse point-of-view simply because it’s reflected in the mixed population. But I do think that, globally, the standards of beauty are not as homogenous as they were when I was growing up.
My daughter goes to an international school, so she is surrounded by a beautifully rich mix of ethnicities and sees a spectrum of skin tones and features. She is also half Chinese, but in our neighborhood Eurasian children are everywhere. My daughter is lucky to be surrounded by a variety of different people. Her definition of beauty will have much more fluidity this way.
Any other beauty myths or quirks that you hope people break and/or embrace as we enter the new year?
I hope that people can look beyond celebrities for their beauty inspiration. Perhaps in 2018 people can be more introspective and come up with their own ideas of what is beautiful. I guess this is my nice way of saying, cool it with the dramatic contouring. But also, find something that works for you and stick with it. Be more intuitive about your beauty routine so that you are nurturing yourself at all times. Being healthy and happy is truly the most beautiful thing.
(Photographs by Heather Moore for LaTonya Yvette. Thank you Janet!)