For some, a lipstick is just a lipstick. But for others, it's a source of strength, creativity, and expression. In our series Power Faces, we'll explore the relationship between strong women and the makeup they choose to wear — or not. Our latest subject is 19-year-old Swedish model Lovisa Lager, who, with Target Beauty, is shattering traditional beauty ideals by embracing her multicultural heritage. This story was told to Andrea Cheng and edited for length and clarity.
I’m from Stockholm, Sweden — my dad is originally from Stockholm, but my mom is from Thailand. Growing up, I had unfair beauty ideals placed on me, coming from two different cultures. Asian beauty ideals value women who are very petite with very fair skin; I broke those norms once I turned 6 — I was already taller than my mom by then. And then growing up in Sweden: I’m not white. So I was the "wrong" kind of Asian and I was the "wrong" kind of Swedish. I used to feel caught in between, but I don't anymore. I’m just me.
My first memory of makeup is doing my older sister's makeup when she used to babysit my younger sister and me. She let us use this super-pigmented cobalt-blue eyeshadow that would not budge. It wasn't very good. The first product I used on my myself was red lipstick, and I thought it was weird because of the creamy texture. But I like makeup now — it's like painting your face. You’re using your face as a canvas. My dad went to art school, and he always encouraged us to be creative, like painting on walls. With makeup, you can do whatever you feel like.
I started struggling with my identity when I was 9 because I was enrolled in an all-white school, and it was hard going from a diverse community to being the minority. I don’t think I understood my insecurities or what I experienced until much later, until after school. There wasn’t full-on racism but more microaggressions, especially toward Asians because that's just what was normalized at the time.
It wasn’t until I was done with high school and Instagram became a huge part of my life that I began to embrace who I am. I met people through the app — people who looked like me or grew up in the same type of environment but on the other side of the city. When you meet people who understand you, who feel the same way you’ve been feeling your whole life, it’s mind-blowing.
I started putting myself out there — posting photos of myself on Instagram — because I didn’t see anyone out there who looked like me. Representation is so important. The people in movies, in fashion, in music, on social media, they all looked the same, promoting the same beauty ideals. So I thought to myself, If there’s no one for me to follow on Instagram, then I have to do it for myself. I never see curvy Asian women in media. Curvy Asians exist — there are loads of them — but they don’t exist in the fashion industry.
I’m trying to normalize a new type of beauty. By not making a big deal about being Asian or being body-positive, and not having these parts of me define me, I want to put in your brain that what I look like is normal. I was self-conscious at first, but I’m not anymore and I haven’t been in a long time.
I never thought I would be a model, but when I was posting pictures of myself, my agent found me on Instagram, which was two years ago. And modeling made me comfortable with who I am — it was validation. There’s nothing wrong with seeking validation so long as you stay true to yourself. My mom is happy that I’ve found my thing. Both of my parents are proud.
I’ve been going through different phases with makeup — experimenting with colors and styles — but right now I’m all about a natural, dewy face with brushed, feathery thick brows, just-curled lashes, and a natural brown-ish lip with lip gloss. For cheeks, I like to use a matte bronzer for contour and blush. I do love a full glam moment, but in a natural way: a dewy look with eyeliner and false single lashes. I like the balance.
When I feel uncreative or uninspired, I force myself to do a bold makeup look, and I feel better. Sometimes I do a strong eye — I would put color on my finger and swipe it across my lids, like finger painting. One of my more creative looks is taking a purple or pink eyeshadow and bringing it down to my cheeks. It looks like a sunset. I’m obsessed with sunsets and sunrises, and those are my favorite colors: pink, baby blue, purple, yellow, orange, and a little bit of red. Four years ago, during the summer, I couldn’t sleep, and I’d watch the sunrise at 2 a.m. and listen to music. It was my favorite summer — and this is my favorite type of beauty.
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