The definition of beauty is ever-changing—be it Cleopatra of ancient Egypt, Yang Guifei of the Tang Dynasty, or Marilyn Monroe of ’60s Hollywood, these women were considered the epitome of beauty in the era they belonged to. Fast forward to present day and, thanks to the increasingly inclusive representation of beauty, icons now span all ages, shapes and ethnicities, empowering women across the world. But before these inspirational visions, a girl’s first beauty icon is often her mother: From the earliest memories of watching her mother getting primped and prepped, to stealing a swipe of lipstick or a spritz of perfume off the vanity, these are the moments that set the foundation for the beauty rituals that she cultivates through her life. For many, it marks the start of the myriad life lessons a daughter learns from her mother. To celebrate Mother’s Day, Harper’s BAZAAR delves into the precious bonds that reinforce what it means to be truly beautiful through the decades. And remember, mummy always knows best.
On their relationship… My mum and I see each other at least three or four times a week because she takes care of my daughters, and we’ll have dinner together.
On turning into her mother… My husband says that I’ve inherited my mother’s penchant for nagging and her love of cleanliness. I’ve also begun to fuss about the things she used to fuss about.
On having an open heart… From a very young age, my mother has always taught me to be forgiving.
On her hopes for her daughters… I just want them to be kind and happy.
On beauty… Be kind and loving, and it will radiate from within.
On the perception of beauty… Stereotypes have been thrown out the window. Anybody can be beautiful.
On her earliest memory of makeup… I would sit and watch my mum get ready to go out. I remember she had all these perfume bottles and compact makeup on her vanity table.
On her mum’s best beauty tips… Sunblock is the one thing she’s been nagging about since I was a teenager. That, and drinking lots of water.
On the greatest gift she has given her daughter… Unconditional love.
On lessons she has learnt from her daughter… I can be quite particular about certain things so she’s definitely taught me to chill.
On life lessons… Look beyond yourself, consider the bigger picture and always consider the other party’s feelings.
On defining beauty… Basically, it’s just love. When you can love yourself and love others, I think that’s the beauty of it all.
On the perception of beauty… We never relied so much on products or treatments in the past. Now, it’s all about, “which cream works best?”, which is a good thing because women can do so much more to take care of themselves.
On her earliest memory of makeup… I was about 13 when my grandmother told me: “Do you know that you’re becoming a young lady? I think you need some lipstick.”
On her skincare essentials… I never leave home without sunblock.
By Dana Koh and Joyce Cheo
Photographer: Darren Gabriel Leow
Stylist: Windy Aulia
Hair: Manisa Tan/PaletteINC using Keune Haircosmetics
Makeup: Larry Yeo using Chanel
Photography assistant: Eric Tan
Assistant stylist: Gracia Phang
Editorial assistant: Adriel Chiun
Stylist’s assistant: Kimberly Ong