How I’m Teaching My Daughter To Love Her Curls, Curves and Brown Skin
Joe Chea

Growing up, I was told I was beautiful, but didn’t always know it for myself. Learning to believe that you’re truly beautiful – without hair, makeup and all the other glam fixings – is truly a process. It’s a lifelong process that requires constant reminders and self-affirmation.

It has taken me years to become comfortable in my own skin. My blog LoveBrownSugar has contributed greatly to helping me tell my story and develop confidence by connecting with other women who want to recognize the beauty in their uniqueness as well.

I really believe that one of the greatest gifts I can give my daughter Cadence on Mother’s Day and everyday, is the gift of self confidence. A woman with confidence is simply unstoppable.

As a mother to a beautiful Black girl, the first thing I want her to know about her beauty is that it existed from the day she was born. I want her to know and fully understand that no amount of lipstick or deep conditioner or edge control could ever change how beautiful she already is.

I think that’s a misconception that many of us grow up with. Because we see the women in our lives get fancied up with makeup and hair and hours of preparation for special occasions, we automatically draw the conclusion that beauty equals “stuff.” It equals perfect eyebrows, perfectly shaped curls, smooth edges and rounded lips with bright color. We assume beauty equals everything in its proper place and smelling good and sitting upright. It equals dangly earrings and high heels and Spanx and Chanel No.5.

Joe Chea


And when we don’t have those things; when we rush out of the house and we’ve forgotten our perfect brows or our lip liner or mascara, suddenly we’re not beautiful. And when we’re not beautiful, we’re not worthy. And when we don’t feel worthy, we negatively compare ourselves with others, which takes a shot to our confidence. And when we lack confidence, we underperform.

It’s a vicious cycle that we women are subjected to. So if there is any legacy I want to leave my baby girl with, it’s the knowledge and power of knowing that she is absolutely beautiful from the minute she wakes up with crust in her eyes, until the minute she falls back asleep after a long day. I want to break the cycle for her so that she doesn’t equate “things” with beauty. 

I want Cadence to know how blessed she is to have curves and kinky curls; how beautiful her brown skin is when it glistens in the sun, and how insanely stunning her almond shaped eyes are. I want her to understand first that Mommy is beautiful, with or without a red lip. When the time comes for her to wear makeup, I want her to know that it doesn’t define her beauty; that it’s fun, like playing with toys. But it’s not a necessity like drinking water or brushing your teeth.

She’s grown to become obsessed with watching me put on my makeup – whether it’s in the morning before work or at night before I head to a press event. She knows the only time she gets to play in mommy’s makeup is the one time of year she takes her dance recital photos. She loves to dance, so I put her in ballet and tap class at the age of two. Ever since that first time I put highlighter and lip gloss on her before her dance pictures, she’s been utterly obsessed with makeup.

She’ll sneak and touch my eyeshadow palettes when I’m not paying attention. Or put her Chapstick on three times throughout the day in the mirror; not because she has dry lips, but because the reapply is a thing. It’s what mommy does, so it must be necessary.

Joe Chea

One day she was looking in the mirror and asked me for the 497th time if she could put on makeup. Instead of saying no like I usually do, I asked her why she wanted to wear it so badly. She replied, “Because I want to be pretty.” My heart broke into a million pieces. Not because her answer was unexpected, but because in that moment, I wanted so badly for her little toddler eyes to see what I saw.

I wanted her in her limited understanding to “get it.” To know that she was so pretty already and that mommy didn’t do all those things to make her “pretty.” I said to myself, “Damn. Should I stop wearing makeup in front of her?” With all my press interviews and red carpet events, I knew that wasn’t realistic.

In that moment I told her “Baby, makeup doesn’t make you pretty. You are already pretty.” I kissed her little forehead and promise to tell her that as many times she needed to hear it.

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As a style-obsessed blogger, I obviously still love and appreciate great beauty products, but as a new mom and an entrepreneur, I’ve had to cut down my time in favor of a more simplified beauty routine. I’m also a little more sensitive to finding products with organic and non-toxic ingredients. Here’s how my routine has changed: