Celebrity MasterChef’s Dami Im Says She’s Been Made To Look ‘Darker’ In Australia And ‘Light’ In Korea
The 32-year-old Celebrity MasterChef contestant has said that she's been made to look lighter and pale when performing in South Korea, where fairer complexions are often viewed as more worthy than darker skin tones.
Meanwhile in Australia, she says that makeup artists sometimes use products on her that are "completely wrong" for her Asian skin. While diversity in the beauty industry is gradually improving and it's happening less often than it did earlier in her career, Im still gets nervous in the makeup chair and tries to pre-empt any uncomfortable situations.
"In terms of hair and makeup, there's still of course occasions where I just know they're not going to understand my skin, my skin tone and my hair texture," Im told Refinery29 Australia.
"So I get a lot more nervous and kind of defensive because I've experienced that so many times where they do it a certain way and it's just completely wrong for this Asian skin."
Comparing the differences in experiences in Australia and South Korea, she explained, "they either make it super, super dark and that's usually the case [here], but then when you're in Korea, they would make it really, really light."
Im, who won The X Factor Australia back in 2013, said she was less vocal about her concerns during the earlier stages of her career. Over time she's developed the confidence to speak up, and while it's "tiring", she wants to take a stand.
"Now I can pre-empt what might happen so I can talk to them [makeup artists] and let them know what I don't want," she explained.
"Whereas back in the past, I just relied on them because I thought, 'Yeah they're professional, they know what they're doing. I don't know what I'm doing so let's see what happens.' Over the years of that experience, I now know what could go wrong and what shouldn't happen."
Im hopes that with greater education and more diverse people working in the industry, people of colour won't have to experience this so often.
"I think it can be tiring just being a bit different to the majority of people," she said. "It's something where you've got to learn to live with it and work with it as well and then, hopefully, things are changing as well and getting better for all of us."
The musician is up against a diverse lineup of famous faces including actors Rebecca Gibney and Matt LeNevez, radio host and former Big Brother star Chrissie Swan, fashion designer Collette Dinnigan, gold medal Olympian Ian Thorpe, comedian Dilruk Jayasinha, footballer Archie Thompson, AFL champ Nick Riewoldt and British kitchen royalty Tilly Ramsay, who is the daughter of acclaimed chef Gordon Ramsay.
She recently said her strategy in the kitchen was taking inspiration from her Korean heritage to create dishes with emotion and love that not only reflected her personal story but made her stand out against her rivals.
"That was my strategy from day one because I grew up eating Korean food," said Im. "I also thought, 'You know what, I probably know Korean food better than anybody else on the show and any of the judges, because it's my culture and I did it since I was born'."
Celebrity MasterChef Australia continues on Sunday and Monday at 7:30pm on Channel 10.