Empowering Every Woman to be Beautiful

Multi-ethnic Beauty

A few days ago I did makeup and wardrobe styling for a national Frigidaire ad. The model in the ad is biracial – she’s Indian and German.

I had to hand blend a rich brown foundation that would pick up her red undertones. As I applied her eye colors, I asked her about India. Was she born there or here in the states? Does she still have family there?

“People often think I’m Hispanic,” she said, surprised that I’d asked questions about India.

Strange. I knew the moment I saw her that she had Indian in her DNA. I didn’t think Hispanic at all.

About 70% of the time I can look at someone and guess their ethnic makeup. Seriously. It’s a gift. Well, actually, it’s a skill honed from years and years of working on thousands of faces. Especially in New York. There are some very eclectic, gorgeous blends of people in the Big Apple.

My friend, Macey, in the pictures above, is tri-racial. I knew that the first time we met. She’d hired me to do makeup and prop styling for a Wachovia Bank ad. It was a miserable, cold, rainy day and we had pounds of stuff to drag out of a van into the shoot location.

Once inside the building, we had to rearrange furniture because we were shooting in an office that didn’t lend itself to shoots. Anyway, during all of this I was trying not to stare at Macey.

I do this all of the time. I sit in restaurants and watch people coming and going. All the while, I’m wondering, “Is she Korean/French or maybe Malaysian and something.” At times I’ve been so overwhelmed with curiosity that I’ve wanted to go up to someone and ask them.

But I don’t. I realize some people are offended by the question. As a makeup artist, I’m simply intrigued by skin tones, eye colors, lip shapes. I want to know what creative partnering made this particular look. I honestly don’t mean any harm by it.

When I visited the Philippines as a short term missionary, women (and a few men) stopped me on the streets to ask where I was from. They also wanted to know what was up with my hair (I had dread locs), and could they touch it?!

But, I didn’t mind at all. I understand their curiosity. I got similar reactions when I was on a job in Iceland with Elle Magazine. Commuters stopped their cars to gawk at me as I walked down the main avenue in Reykjavik.

Anyway, back to Macey. I stalked her. I did. She’ll tell you. I made her become my friend. Part of it was my overwhelming curiosity about her ethnicity.

Finally, one day after we’d become solid friends, I asked her. “What’s your background – I mean culturally?”

She smiled. She’s so used to people asking her that.

“I’m Cuban, German and Chinese.”

Wow, I would never have gotten that one. Several times I thought she was Latina – because of her warm undertones, maybe. But then I definitely saw Asian in there because of her hair and her eyes. But, both of those seemed to give way to something else I couldn’t put my finger on.

After our conversation I was desperate to do her makeup. When I see someone who has various cultures in one face, I have to play with it. I begged her to let me do her makeup.

Macey’s sweet and a little bit shy. She doesn’t wear much makeup and she’s uncomfortable being the center of attention. But she finally agreed to let me do her makeup AND take pictures of her.

This was the outcome.

Are you bi/tri-racial? Are you offended when people are curious about your ethnicity?

What has been your experience in buying foundation to match your skin tone?