#WellnessForAll Spotlight – Organic Beauty Lover
I’d like to preface this series of interviews be stating that considering the time I have been in the green beauty space and the daily conscious choice I make in living an alternative lifestyle. I personally have felt several times the diversity and unique nuances and backgrounds get lost and we forget to strive for and remember our individuality. The purpose of these interviews is to bring cultural awareness to not only the green beauty space but also on a global scale.
Tell us a bit about your ethnic background. Where were you born? Where were your parents born?
I was born in Los Angeles to Korean American parents and have been a California girl my whole life, though I have been living and working in Switzerland the past few years. Having grown up in such a diverse setting I never struggled with my identity and always identified as being American until I studied abroad in Paraguay as a high school foreign exchange student. Everyone there thought I was from Japan and it was then that I realized that outside of the US no one assumes that I’m American based on my appearance. Though my mom who was born in Seoul is very traditionally Korean I never truly identified with my Korean heritage other than being able to speak and understand the language somewhat and have never visited the country.
What ethnic traditions/customs do you remember vividly about your upbringing?
I remember on Jan 1 of every year we would go to my late uncle’s house and set up an offering of fruits & traditional Korean desserts for my deceased grandparents and do a series of bows before digging into the fruits. And every year on the morning of my birthday I would have seaweed soup. Actually, I don’t know if this is a cultural tradition for everyone in Korea or just my mother’s tradition. Other than that, I remember how strict my mother was on politeness and manners like always accepting something that’s handed to you by an adult with both hands- never one hand.
In your culture/ethnicity, what is considered aesthetically beautiful or acceptable?
It’s no secret that South Korea is obsessed with beauty with the explosion of K-beauty and all. I am aware that their idea of beauty is porcelain skin, a small face with a V-line jaw, high nose, large eyes etc. They’re also pretty obsessed with being thin as a rail.
What is a standout cultural ritual/custom that is extremely toxic that you wish didn’t exist or that you feel should be better understood?
I don’t believe this is a “custom” per se but the strictness of traditional Korean parenting is extremely harsh. It’s both a blessing and a curse because I don’t believe I would be who I am today without having been instilled with this drive to achieve. From a young age my mom had me enrolled in every kind of class or after school academy like most Korean moms and in high school getting a “B” was considered bad. I did have my own drive to succeed and get into a good university so actually I considered getting a B bad myself.
What do your family members or culture think about your alternative lifestyle?
I’m separated from my family living abroad so I don’t interact with them except for a few times a year. I’ll give them gifts whenever I’m back home in California but they’re not very interested in learning more or buying more green products. They could care less about holistic wellness, reiki, crystals etc. but they’re happy to know that I am passionate about such things.
What product/custom/dish do you miss and wish there was a green equivalent of or healthy version of?
I do wish there was a green equivalent of purple shampoo for my highlights. I still need to use a conventional purple conditioner to maintain my highlights but I make sure it doesn’t touch my scalp & roots.
What tips or advice would you give anyone in your ethnic group that might be intrigued about the alternative/greener lifestyle?
I don’t have advice specific to the Korean community other than advice that I would give anyone interested in a greener lifestyle and that would be to take a look at the products you’re using now and look up their toxicity level on the EWG or Think Dirty apps. I’d then advise them to read up on the information available online about the risks of the ingredients in their products, start following green bloggers like me and Cindy, look out for sales and start switching to cleaner options!
At any point in your upbringing, was the importance of holistic topics brought up? If so, what do you recall? If not, how did you come to this alternative lifestyle on your own?