Feminist, anthropologist, writer and co-founder of Agora Juntas, a collaborative feminist hub in Rio de Janeiro.
THE BEAUTY TALK
IS BEING A FEMINIST COMPATIBLE WITH FEMININITY?
People definitely think that all feminists look the same, but I think it really depends on the woman. I know men who are more feminine than I am. I have an issue with what is considered feminine and what is considered masculine. Society defines these genders, but it doesn’t mean one cannot be the other. For example I am very blunt and direct, and people would consider this a masculine trait. And then there are men who are actually more considerate than I am.
One of the things I thought about a lot these past months is taking care of myself, being kind to myself, feeling beautiful. And you know, the greatest compliment that a woman gets is from another woman. I definitely feel that’s the way I think I survive on a daily basis. We live in a terrible world really, you can tell me that I'm beautiful and lovely but when I was in high school I thought I was ugly and fat which lead to me controlling my diet every single day, I mean to the point that I didn’t menstruate for two years because I was so skinny! Thankfully I managed to come back to a healthy weight but it was long and difficult.
For me it is feminist already to accept yourself as you are. And very empowering too.
FINALLY EMBRACING YOUR INDIVIDUALITY IS A LONG PROCESS FOR A WOMAN WHO IS GROWING UP.
Not only for a woman, but for anyone actually. The standard of beauty for Asian people for example, is long hair. And my Asian friend has very short hair. Everyone thinks she’s a lesbian. She’s so brave to have accepted her individuality. You know I cut my hair once a year and the length I have now is short for me! I actually wanted to cut more but I couldn’t. It is a traumatic experience, every time I do it. It is such an exercise of how we are expected to be or look like.
WHAT IS YOUR FACE DAILY BEAUTY ROUTINE ?
To be honest, I think I need to do a little bit better on the whole self-care. And believe me, it has nothing to do with any kind of wild feminist mantra like “we have to rid ourselves of these dominating beauty routines”, no! (laughs). It is simply the fact that I am a very anxious person and I always have a million things in my head and I need to do a lot better in terms of organizing my life.
In terms of beauty routine, ideally, I put on sunscreen. I use any sunscreen but for my face it has to be 50+. La Roche-Posay is the best, I think. If I manage not to forget to put sunscreen on, it means it is a good day (laughs).
Then, I always wear make-up but I have irregular skin with freckles and rosacea. So I always wear a foundation that has SPF and I also always wear eyeliner. I use mostly make-up from E.L.F which is a really affordable mineral based make-up brand in NYC. It has taken me a really long time to love my eyes. Actually it is more about loving that feature that every single person makes a comment about!
If I'm going to a party than I’ll use lipstick. I got some nice YSL lipsticks and I like them. A hot pink gloss and a nice beige matte lipstick are my two go-tos for different situations. But not on an everyday basis because I think my lips call attention, so I can't wear lipstick during the day. But you know what? Maybe that is another exercise (laughs).
HAHA. I CAN TOTALLY IDENTIFY WITH THAT MYSELF! WHEN I WAS YOUNGER I WOULD BE ASHAMED OF WEARING BOLD AND SHINY COLORS ON MY LIPS BECAUSE THEY ARE BIG, UNTIL THE MATTE TREND CAME OUT! THIS WAS MY SAVIOR TREND (LAUGHS). WHY ARE WE SEXUALIZED AND FEELING ASHAMED ABOUT IT?
I feel the same way. When I was in high school, I took a feminist photography course. The instructor with whom I recently reconnected, taught me about all the beautiful messages behind these photographs taken by women. And one thing she always said is that women, above all, are judged for their appearance first. Men are never judged for their beauty first. She is the person who changed my life. It is oppressive to feel the obligation to “maintain”, would I become a social pariah if I stopped suddenly?
YOU HAVE BEAUTIFUL LONG, SHINY BLACK HAIR. TELL US HOW YOU TAKE CARE OF THEM?
Brazilian society is obsessed with beauty and hair care. But to be honest I don’t do anything to my hair, neither when I was in other countries such as France for example, which by the way has the best products, so I would buy my stuff there but I don’t even use them (laughs). Here in Brazil I buy coconut oil and I pass it on my skin and on my hair. But really I don’t do a single thing apart from that. I am very lucky with my hair.
I feel more balanced here with the nature, the sun, the exercise and the social dynamic, than in NYC for example, where people do take very good care of themselves but in a more fashionable way. It looks very “forced” to me.
In Rio, my priority is to get outdoor exercise, eat fresh, and get some sun… This is my beauty routine.
DO YOU GO TO THESE ACADEMIAS (*GYMS) HERE? I FEEL PEOPLE HERE ARE OBSESSED WITH THEM!
Nooooooooo, no, no! I think these gym places here are very strange. I prefer to play tennis, volley-ball… Right now, I’m trying to find someone to go rock climbing with me.
It’s funny now that I think about it, I remember once I went to see a Samba School in Sambodrome during Carnival and their theme was “Beauty”. It was so well researched. They looked at the concept of beauty from the Greek Age until present in Brazil and managed to show how men and women subject themselves to it. Some people were shown as plastic surgeons, some as bodybuilders in the gym, some people had mirrors attached to themselves denunciating vanity, some were beauty queens, etc… It was amazing to see their point of view and everything was amazingly well executed.
It is true that beauty is very strong is Brazil, and sometimes I don’t even see it. I think because I surround myself with a community of women who are like “fuck this” (laughs)… They don't really wear make-up and don’t care but at the same I'm always really careful to say that not all one movement is entirely like this.
I take a lot of inspiration from looking at different groups of women. I believe there need to be a balance. You need to critically examine beauty and know what makes more sense for you; sometimes I feel like making more of an effort but at the end of the day I try to tell myself that I am a beautiful Asian-American woman and I am not here to be your Geisha! Meaning that I can take care of myself but I am not here to be your girlfriend beauty ideal. I do it for me. And at other times I just want to crawl out of the house in flip flops and not take care of myself for the entire week because I focus more on work at that moment… And it’s fine too.
DO YOU HAVE ANY BEAUTY ICON?
I definitely look up more to women who embrace their beauty in a politicized way. For example, that woman who is a public figure in Rio and whom I became friends with. Her name is Juliana Luna. She is a very spiritual person, she is very sure of herself, not only as a woman, but as a beautiful black woman. She has a way of carrying her beauty that is so effortless and still commands your respect. And that is what I'm interested in. I'm not interested in a standard of beauty where I have to conform to look like someone else. I want to create my own aesthetic, my own beauty and having people respect it and not in a male dictated type of beauty.
That is her aesthetics. She always uses a turban, she loves capes, she is 30 years old and looks like she could be 25 but the way that she dresses herself commands the respect as if she was your grandmother (laughs). She did an event at Agora Juntas and everyone loved it. I find her very genuine and authentic. That is a type of beauty that inspires me and I think the reason is that it comes from a beautiful human being who respects others. She is a very good listener and she is a very good conversationalist and during our event everyone witnessed it and felt very emotional. She is a great person. I would definitely love to have that type of presence one day.
THANK YOU BEAUTIFUL ANI! x