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 her earliest memory of beauty… I used to just sit and watch my mum do her hair and makeup when I was younger. Seeing how she took care of her skin taught me how to care for mine. Today, I sometimes help her fix her hair, or put on eyeliner—she’s not great at that.
On their shared traits… I’ve obviously gotten her hair, but more importantly, I’ve learnt her discipline and respect for others.
On her mum’s best beauty tips… Always moisturise your skin, including your lips. And we both have curly hair, so it’s important to find a good hairstylist that understands how to treat and trim it. We’ve been going to the same person for years.
On turning into her mother… I realised this when I decided to pursue modelling. I would always see her pageant crowns in the house and knew it was something I was interested in from a very young age.
On her mum’s modelling advice… From the start, she taught me to show different expressions and to give options at shoots; to respect the crew around you because you are there for a job; and to always have fun.
On defining beauty… It’s about being natural, raw and comfortable in your own skin. That’s where people can see your true beauty—emotions, cares and thoughts are what I find beautiful.
On their relationship… Ours can be a love-hate relationship most of the time. But there’s always a special place in my heart for my princess. She gets away with murder sometimes.
On discipline… If you are disciplined with the things you do, at home and at work, and keep good personal ethics while at it, this will naturally be instilled in your children.
On the perception of beauty… When I was younger and modelling, we didn’t have digital imaging to help make us more beautiful. We had the job of taking a product and making it beautiful, and the team had to take a person and turn that into beauty. Beauty has changed with technology, and what we need to do is refocus on the raw, authentic beauty of individuals instead of the edited versions.
On empowering her daughter… We gave her the name Iman, which means “faith”. And that’s exactly what she must have in herself—faith that she will be able to do absolutely anything and everything she puts her mind to. And I will be behind her 110 percent.
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