Michelle Phan, a Vietnamese-American make-up artist, is known as the “mother of the beauty community.” With 8.85 million subscribers on YouTube, and two million followers on Instagram, she is a prominent figure on social media and regarded as a pioneer in the YouTube make-up community. Although there are many popular makeup artists and emerging beauty influencers today, Michelle Phan remains one of the most influential and important figures in the beauty community for Asian-Americans.
In most beauty communities around the world, there is a desire for Eurocentric features, which usually include fair, light skin, smaller noses, thin lips, straight hair, and big, “European eyes.” Of course, these kinds of standards are extremely harmful to people of color, who don’t usually possess those features. There is a subtle message being sent out, that if you’re not “European” enough, you’re ugly by default… which is absolutely not true!
Phan’s rise to popularity as an Asian-American makeup artist is super important because there aren’t a lot of makeup artists of color to begin with. Representation, especially in the realm of beauty and makeup, is crucial because enforcing strictly Eurocentric features is severely damaging to people’s self esteem, mental health, and creates a divide between people and their original culture. It’s exhausting to be in a constant tug-o-war battle with your own face and body!
In a society where Eurocentric features are pushed upon people, especially the younger generation, Phan’s presence is a reminder that your natural features are beautiful and unique, and you are capable of being successful. Embrace the special features you have, because no one else was created just like you.
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Chopsticks Alley Intern
Ashley is a landscape architecture student and freelance illustrator based in the Bay Area. She hopes to explore more about her own Southeast Asian culture, and also encourages others to do the same. Ashley believes that creativity and culture go hand in hand. When she is not working on her creative projects, she enjoys swimming, gardening, and baking.