Monday, June 10, 2013

Bitch, I'm Hawaiian and I'm Fabulous!

Today I had a very bizarre experience.  I went to a local make-up store, I won't say which one. It's one of those stand alone larger ones.  I'd never been there before, but my friend Julie Swenson, who is also an amazing make-up artist, recommended a product I thought I could find there.

I couldn't remember the name of the product.  I'm having to combat not just wrinkles, but CRS syndrome, "Can't Remember Shit" syndrome.  I approached the first employee I saw and asked her if she could point me in the direction of products which would help minimize or conceal the dark circles under my eyes. The woman looked at me and said "Your dark circles are hereditary because of your dark skin."  Her attitude seemed to be that there is nothing we can do about it, due to my dark skin and all.

Now, I know for fact that something can be done about it because I've worked with multiple make-up artist who do a great job covering up those dark circles.  The woman had nothing left to offer, and quite frankly left me kind of stunned by her attitude of, we can't help you.

So, I turned to another employee nearby and said the same thing to her.  She took me over to a line of products, which she thought may be helpful.  Everything would have been fine, except she looks at me and says "Your wrinkles are because of all the tanning you must do.  You look like you do a lot of tanning."

Excuse me?  This woman just assumed that I must spend hours at a tanning salon because I wasn't as fair skinned as she was.  I'm darker than most Minnesotans, but I'm far from looking like that crazy, leathery "Tan Mom" woman.

My sister Lana and I. I'm in the grey.
 I looked at her and said, "I'm dark because I'm Hawaiian.  20 minutes in the sun and I get darker. I don't do "tons of tanning", I'm multiracial.  Additionally, I think the fact that I'm 42 years old has more to do with the wrinkles that I'm here to address."

She was making an assumption, never considering that I may be dark because of my nationality or in my case nationalities.  I was born and raised in Hawaii and I'm Hawaiian, Chinese, American Indian, Portuguese, Scotch and Irish.  Hawaiian being my dominate nationality.  I don't think either of the women were trying to be mean.  In truth, I think they were both just incredibly ignorant.

Running into one ignorant person at a business like this would be one thing, but two of them?  For a minute I thought I was probably on one of those hidden camera shows and Chris Hanson from Dateline was going to jump out.  Not the case, they were just two ignorant women who shouldn't be working at a make-up store.

This incident reminded me of something similar that happened to a good friend of mine.  She is half German and half African American, she is truly stunning.  She did a pageant and received her judges feedback afterwards.  One judge wrote "Too tan".  Seriously? Yes, it was all over her bio that she was multiracial and this idiot judge no doubt took away points because she was "too tan".

People are not just black, white, asian, or hispanic.  When filling out paperwork requiring me to check a box for race, I could pick a few: Pacific Islander, Asian, or Caucasian, sometimes all of the above.  No one box describes what I am anymore than one personality trait can describe who I am.

Recently General Mills put out a commercial with a mixed race couple with a multiracial child.  The dad is African American, and the mom is white. I greatly applaud this!  It's about dang time.

I purchased two items and went to my car.  There were tears in my eyes as I tried to make sense of what had happened and my own feelings about it. I realized that the comments, assumptions and looks of disapproval by those two women made me feel somehow wrong for being what I was.

Looking at myself in my rearview mirror, I realized that I'm lucky to come from a line of people who chose to love each other despite race, or cultural differences.  People from six different parts of the globe came together to eventually create my family.  I wiped away my tears, gave myself a smile and said out loud "Bitch, I'm Hawaiian and I'm fabulous!"

My sister and I with our Dad back home in Hawaii

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Jeff Henninger said...

You go, Natalie! You'll always be Fabulous in my eyes!

"THAT" Girl :) said...

Awesome! I'm pretty sure I know what store you are talking about. The requirements to work there must include but not be limited to :
1. Being ignorant,
2. White,
3. Under 25,
4. And have absolutely no tact !
Oh, and they must be hourly ,not on commission!

I've had my own"experiences" that were not so pleasant.

Ali Holman said...

As a mom of 2 biracial girls & in an interracial marriage--we have had our fair share of ignorant comments. From "where did you get her" about my daughter to "she is so pretty--so fair skinned" about their lighter skin tone. I know I was "chosen" to be a mom of these two beautiful girls because I don't accept ignorance as an excuse. We educate ourselves on finances, health and wellness, real estate trends, fashion--why in the world are people not educating themselves on diversity? If you live in an area that is populated by only white people, grab your kids and drive out of "the bubble"--make it a priority.
I think your brown skin is beautiful, I love that you OWN it, and we need more people that say how things really are because when people are not confronted with covert racism, they don't think it "still exists". Clearly, it does.

You GO, Natalie!