Finding Beauty: Four Asian American Stories

Mona Baltazar

Founder and Operator, The Mona Lower

“When we ended up 10 yrs outdated, my sister and I moved from the Philippines to San Jose. Coming from a place in which all of my neighbors looked like me, the US was a society shock. There ended up girls in my grade who towered more than me and appeared extremely unique. My sister and I have been a group, and we’d occur dwelling from college every single working day and focus on factors we picked up from our classmates so we could mix in as rapidly as attainable.

My spouse and children was not nicely-off in the US, and higher education was in no way a discussion. On vocation working day in significant faculty I observed a cosmetology pamphlet with a man with extensive, luscious hair on the entrance. If you talk to any individual, remaining Filipino is all about owning very long hair, and I preferred to do what he was executing. Although I was functioning in a salon in California I won a sales contest to fly to New York for a four-working day Redken course. It was my next time on an plane, and I fell in like with the town. I informed my manager I was placing in my one calendar year discover and when I was prepared he purchased me a a person-way ticket. Now I’ve been in this article for 16 decades.

In 2015 a girl named Edgy arrived to see me for a haircut. It was the beginning of a massive movement in the direction of organic, curly hair in Black and mixed communities, but there weren’t quite a few curly-hair cutters in New York. A ton of stylists would say, ‘Oh, you have also substantially hair, we’re heading to have to straighten it,’ or huff and puff like curly hair was such a chore. Curly hair was new to me but it didn’t end me—I’m a hairdresser, and my job is to assistance you have an understanding of your hair and come to feel very good about it. Edgy posted a photo of her haircut on Instagram and tagged me, and it was a chain reaction from there. Textured hair is extremely sensitive and has so numerous personalities, which is the natural beauty of it. I want a customer to experience actually relaxed with their personal texture, and I’m below to hold their hand on that journey. A client of mine gave me the identify ‘The Mona Lower,’ and in March 2018 I formally opened as The Mona Minimize independently.

Elegance is so limitless ideal now, and it is amazing that absolutely everyone has the prospect to choose how they want to glimpse, but at this moment I’m actively striving to not stand out. My mother is quite open-minded and bold, and elevated my sisters and I to under no circumstances experience like we had to glance a specified way. She just turned 66 the other day, and I really don’t think I have at any time viewed her search a lot more fabulous—her hair is silver and she wears it seriously shorter. A couple of a long time ago I was operating errands on my lunch break, and some dude came up at the rear of me and stated underneath his breath, ‘real American, so American.’ I recall questioning if that intended I’m not supposed to have tattoos due to the fact I’m Asian, or if simply because I have tattoos I’m hoping to healthy an American visual. The other day I anxious about leaving my house in a vibrant yellow Nike jacket, and I just acquired sun shades to try to hide that I’m Asian. But a little something thrilling about staying Filipino right here in New York is that young business people are highlighting road food stuff from the Philippines much more and much more. Undertaking Barkada highlights a whole lot of Filipino tiny businesses, which is how I identified Kabisera and FromKora donuts, which grew to become enormous this 12 months like how Cronuts have been substantial. I overlook property, and food is dwelling.”

—as told to ITG

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