Faces of Australia is a weekly column highlighting BIPOC creatives to bring you their stories. Creators are asked to collaborate on a makeup look that empowers, holds meaning, or describes their experience as it relates to Australian beauty standards and the Australian beauty industry. Faces of Australia is written and produced by Ruchi Page, with a mission to show the beauty industry how accessible BIPOC talent is across this diverse nation.
Episode 9: Reena Lucas
The brief? Eye Candy.
This week’s episode is more than just a deliciously, drool worthy brief. Introducing Reena Lucas– I first stumbled upon Reena’s artistry on the Kevyn Aucoin Instagram feed and from that moment I was mesmerised. I recently sat down with the 26 year-old nurse to discuss the one thing for which she has felt a lifelong passion; the world of makeup.
Reena was born in the Philippines and moved to Australia with her parents and three brothers at the age of 12. She now works in the Emergency Department as a registered nurse but makes time for content creation on her days off. Creative makeup is a component of artistry that requires patience and determination, and so I asked the creator how this journey began. “I’ve always been into art ever since I was little. This lead to furthering that passion into creative makeup… I drew inspiration from other makeup creators on Instagram. I love using my face as my canvas and I find it amazing how I could be anyone I want to be [through] the power of makeup,” she tells me.
The freedom and flexibility makeup provides is praised in 2021, however in entering the makeup world initially, Reena was met with limitations. “It was not necessarily aimed towards me but Asians with hooded eyelids like mine are told to avoid using shimmer eyeshadows on our lids,” as a brown skin girl, I could relate to these rules. For so long I too believed lighter lip colours were not beautiful on deeper skin tones and to stay clear of them. We shared a moment of agreement that these rules are what tend to confine the BIPOC community in fitting into strict guidelines when it comes to makeup application and beauty. We both understood that makeup has the ability to enhance features when used in a specific way, but the freedom to choose our colours, finishes and techniques should stand, regardless of ethnicity. “I personally love using shimmer eyeshadows on my eyelids and I believe that anyone can use it.” A true rule breaker, Reena reiterates that what matters is your creative desire.
Our conversation progressed into the viral yet controversial social media trend, the Fox Eye. As this particular trend rose to fame in 2020, so too did the conversations around cultural appropriation. Reena acknowledges the beauty of the Fox Eye and has even used it for a glam look herself, however the creator mentions “it’s the pulling of the eyes that triggers me and my fellow Asians I’m sure, because at least once in our lives we’ve been teased for having “slanted eyes”.” Reena remembers moments of her own as a child, where other children would pull their eyes downward, laugh and chant ‘ching chong.’ “Of course it’s hurtful for us,” she confirms. Reena looks at the trend through a mixed lens; she hopes it is used respectfully and that the world is growing to embrace non-Eurocentric features of beauty rather than ridiculing them.
As a Filipino Australian, I wanted to understand if Reena saw herself in the Australian beauty industry. She reflected, “I definitely think that Asian-Australians are not represented enough.” Like many members of the BIPOC community, Reena couldn’t help but notice the extreme white washed campaigns, ads, posters and media. Consequently, she became familiar with confused, self reflective thoughts and often believed this was the [only] beauty standard to achieve. “I have learnt how to love my own features but I wish there were more Asian-Australians that I [could’ve looked] up to growing up.” We acknowledged that this seems to be a trending pattern, ‘wishing’ and ‘hoping’ for diverse faces, often dreamt about but yet to be consistently seen. The impact of representation on an individual is transformational, it creates goals, helps form positive self esteem and comfort, it promotes acceptance and belonging which in turn shapes a person to explore extraordinary paths.
To conclude episode 9, I asked Reena to share her advice for the fellow Filipino Australian community who wish to be acknowledged in the beauty industry…
“I have found that the USA and UK hold a strong community for creative makeup styles, so engaging and interacting with communities that put you on global recognition is beneficial. I would say keep creating and sharing your talents in multiple social media platforms that work for you within a niche similar to your own. Build a community of people who share the same interests as you and create a genuine bond between other creators as well as your fans (no matter how small your following is). I am sure someone is watching and cheering you on.”