health

As a woman of Asian ethnicity, let me tell you why Soo Joo Park’s signing to L’Oreal is meaningful to me.

Image: Getty. Soo Joo Park doing her thing at an event this year.

Soo Joo Park was recently announced as the newest spokesmodel for L’Oreal. This is a groundbreaking move by the beauty mega-company, because for the first time in its 108-year history, it has named an Asian-American as one of its new “faces”.

Related: Barbara Palvin reveals her makeup superpower – and the secret to perfect poached eggs.

Whenever L’Oreal makes a move, the beauty world takes notice. While you will know of the L’Oreal beauty brand from its presence in department stores, chemists and supermarkets, the larger L’Oreal Group owns several of the heavy-hitters in the beauty industry. Think of any of your favourite beauty brands, and it’s likely that the L’Oreal Group owns it – there’s Urban Decay, Lancome, Kiehl’s, Giorgio Armani, Maybelline… the list goes in.

Any move or announcement by the L’Oreal beauty brand is a good indication of what’s seriously important in the beauty world. As a woman of Asian ethnicity (I’m Australian-born Chinese), let me tell you why Soo Joo Park’s signing to L’Oreal is meaningful to me. (Post continues after gallery.)

While shopping for makeup, whether on the high street or online, I rarely see an image of an Asian woman. And I shop for makeup a lot – at least once a week. It’s my job, and hobby.

When an Asian person is included in a beauty brand’s visual merchandising, it makes me feel visible and relevant.

Related: 21 cruelty-free Australian beauty brands  

If a beauty brand features models, but none are of Asian ethnicity, I wonder whether the brand can cater to my Asian-specific skin tone and needs. If a beauty brand never features an image of an Asian woman, it makes me question whether they believe that an Asian woman can be beautiful.

Related: 5 beauty counter hacks that will change your shopping experience.

Image: Instagram. Soo Joo Park chilling out with some daffodils.

This may come across as extreme and dramatic. However, when I rarely see images of Asian women, or women of colour, in ads or on local TV shows or anywhere, it starts to bother to me.

A few years ago, I was trying my hardest to “make it” as an actress. I was rarely asked to audition for the role of the friend, daughter or girlfriend. I mean, the Rafters of “Packed to the Rafters” (the biggest Aussie show at the time) didn’t have an illegitimate, full-blooded Asian daughter, did they? When the only auditions I was getting were for Asian stir-fry sauce ads, it was all too clear that Asian faces weren’t considered “mainstream”.

Image: Vogue Korea. Soo Joo Park scores another magazine cover.
ADVERTISEMENT

That’s why I literally cheered when I read that Soo Joo Park was the new face of L’Oreal. An Asian spokesmodel makes me feel seen, acknowledged and even beautiful. I’m not invisible. It’s exciting to think that Soo Joo Park’s face could be splashed all over the makeup department of Target.

Since arriving on the fashion scene in 2012, Soo Joo Park has turned heads with her platinum hair and minimal approach to makeup. Unlike other models who started in the industry in their teens, Park completed a degree in architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, prior to starting her modelling career at the age of 26. Now, at 29, she’s a fashion favourite, walking for internationally renowned designers such as Chanel and Fendi, and featuring in all of your favourite fashion magazines and websites.

Related: The new hair colour trend every woman over 35 will be pretty happy about.

I want my daughter to grow up in a world where she sees images of people (like Soo Joo Park) who look like her. When I was a child, images of Asian people were even rarer, and I honestly used to wonder if Asian women were considered too ugly to be seen in ads or the entertainment industry. Today, I feel like we are moving towards an exciting and beautiful multi-racial future. Every person of every ethnicity is beautiful. Let's celebrate that.

Image: Instagram. Soo Joo Park celebrates her new contract with L'Oreal.

L’Oreal’s move to sign Park is not unusual, given that its spokesmodels include diverse faces such as Freida Pinto, Liya Kebede, Eva Longoria and our own Megan Gale. I’ve always admired the brand's choice of spokesmodels, as they are often interesting, experienced and beautiful. And, race aside, I would like to acknowledge that Soo Joo Park is a seriously cool and stunning girl.

I’ve never met at L’Oreal product that I didn't like, and if this is all a wider plan to secure the Asian dollar, well, it’s worked for me. Consider my wallet emptied.

00:00 / ???