Ayumi Teresa: Identity, Empowerment & Beauty
Japanese-American model and content creator Ayumi Teresa Yokoyama shares with BEAUBIT on identity struggles, female empowerment and beauty.
Growing up in America and then Japan, Ayumi Teresa Yokoyama struggled with her bicultural identity and so, was inspired to help others who are experiencing similar difficulties. The Japanese-American model, who is also a content creator, has modelled for brands like Guerlain, Shu Uemura, Dolce & Gabbana and Valentino. Now she aspires to empower Asian women within various Asian communities through her online platform.
What’s your story?
I’ve been modelling for 6 years and it has allowed me to travel all over the world. I lived in Thailand from late 2018 to mid-2019. I was supposed to move to Singapore for another model contract but it was postponed because of the pandemic. So I decided to move to LA to explore my American identity since this was something I’ve always wanted to do. I am now based in LA and I’m very happy with my decision despite the ongoing pandemic.
Where did you grow up and how has your experience shaped the person you are, and the career that you have today?
I grew up both in the United States and in Japan, so I’ve always struggled with my Japanese-American identity. This, and noticing the Eurocentric beauty standards in the model industry inspired me to build a platform to speak out. Creating YouTube videos talking about multiculturalism and beauty standards was a scary thing for me at first, but it brings me so much fulfilment knowing I’m helping others that are struggling with similar issues I had while growing up.
How did you overcome the challenges of balancing dual cultures?
I was born and raised in the United States but I moved to Japan when I was 11. So I was often bullied during my first years in Japan because I was very different from the other Japanese kids. I definitely had to learn everything the hard way because no one taught me what was “normal” and what wasn’t in Japan. I slowly learned how to read all the social cues and cultural rules and started to abide by them. It wasn’t until college—where I majored in intercultural communication— that I realised there was nothing wrong with me and the only reason I had been struggling was because of my cultural differences and my inability to understand them.
What do you hope to achieve with your platform?
I would like to become someone that the younger generation can look up to. I didn’t have anyone to guide me through my identity crisis or my insecurities when I was growing up, so I want to be that person for others, who may be experiencing the same difficulties I had. I’m especially passionate about empowering Asian women and helping them feel comfortable in their own skin.
How do you deal with negativity online? What advice would you give women who are insecure about the way they look?
I see hate and negativity online as a portrayal of that person’s insecurities. The more hate a person gives, the more engaged they are in the content. I try not to let it get to me too much. If I decide to respond, I do so in a respectful manner because I believe in “you give what you get”.
I always tell women not to compare themselves to others because we are all beautiful and unique in our own way. It’s definitely easier said than done, especially with everyone posting the better aspects of their lives on social media, but I think it’s essential that we know that that is only a snippet of reality.
I encourage everyone to take breaks or limit their time on their feeds. I set a 15-minute timer on Instagram and have my notifications turned off for my social accounts so that I won’t get too caught up in it. Try not to scroll through your social media feed too, right before bed.
What does female empowerment look like for you?
For me, the largest form of success in women empowerment is that my fellow Asian women are able to have boundaries and stand up for themselves. Male dominance is deeply and heavily rooted within Asian culture and I would love to see that change over the next few generations.
“Oftentimes, many of us feel like we do not have a voice. We are trained to stay silent and are too afraid to say anything. But I think it’s about time we start standing up for ourselves and for each other.”
Talk us through your skincare routine and your holy-grail beauty products.
In the mornings, I like to keep it simple. I skip serum and I follow up my toner with a couple of drops of CBD oil from NURISH. It honestly has made a really big difference in my skin! I never have any big skin issues since I started incorporating CBD into my routine.
For my daily nighttime skincare routine, I like to start with an alcohol-free and hydrating toner. Right now, I’m using the Missha Misa Chogongjin Toner. I have also started using anti-ageing products since I entered my late 20s and my current favourite is the BareMinerals Vital Power Infusion. Then I lock it all in with a creamy moisturiser—the Missha Misa Chogongjin Lotion.
Another holy grail of mine is the Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Masque. I use this once a week to unclog my pores and it’s also my emergency solution whenever I start to have acne. The mud sucks all the dirt out of my skin and leaves my skin soft and plump. I like to go in with the Farmacy Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Hydration Mask after the mud mask, and then my regular skincare routine right after.
Are there any beauty tips from your culture that you can share?
Taking half-body baths is a health and beauty tip that I learned from my Japanese mother. I would take long baths where I only bathe the lower half of my body in lukewarm water. You start dripping sweat about 10 minutes in, and I usually stay in for at least 20 to 30 minutes.
This bathing technique gets rid of all the toxins in the body and helps with bloating. I also do lymphatic massage on my face and body after. It also helps with bloating and it de-puffs the face when done properly.
What is the best beauty advice you’ve ever received?
My mom and aunt have told me countless times to never touch my eyebrows; don’t pluck or shave them, because you’ll regret it if you do (laughs)! And now I’m glad I listened to them because I have perfectly natural bushy eyebrows that are super easy to maintain.
Ayumi’s Beauty Picks
Missha Misa Chogongjin Toner, SGD55
BareMinerals Vital Power Infusion, SGD78.95
Missha Misa Chogongjin Lotion, SGD55
Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Masque, SGD49
Farmacy Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Hydration Mask, SGD61
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