The Diverse Faces Of Singapore Beauty
Her World Singapore|December 2020
These 10 women don’t look it, but they live, talk and are Singaporean born and bred. On Her World’s 60th, we pay tribute to the flourishing diversity of women with mixed ethnicities and heritage, who share their stories and experiences.
Goh Yee Huay

NIGERIAN CHINESE

NOELLE WOON

22, MODEL

“As a Blasian (black Asian) in Singapore, people find me cool and unique rather than weird. They ask: “Where are you from?”, “Is your hair real?” But once I speak, they know I’m Singaporean – my accent is so strong that it throws them off.

I’m glad to be mixed, as I have the traits of two races. For example, I naturally have a lot of rhythm because of my African side. I have a modelling contract and having an exotic look helps to bring across a different style in high fashion apparel.

However, I feel predominantly Chinese as I grew up with a single mum and the rest of my Chinese family. I have no exposure to African culture, although when I speak to African people, I learn more about the culture, and they are very open to showing me what it is like.”

EUROPEAN MELANESIAN CHINESE

MICHELLE AYN TESSENSOHN

46, LIFE COACH

“My Dad is Eurasian with Chinese, British, Portuguese, German and Melanesian heritage. My Mum is Dutch Burgher (Eurasian from Sri Lanka) and has Sinhalese, Dutch, Irish and Scottish blood. My parents met at a mutual friend’s party.

I recently learnt about my Melanesian roots after my paternal aunt took a DNA test, but I have no conscious connection to the culture. I identify most with my South-east Asian heritage – I always need to be near the sea, and I don’t do well in cold climates.

I went to a convent school and I speak Mandarin, but people don’t process that I’m local even when I’m speaking in Singlish or Mandarin.

Being Eurasian helps me connect with more diverse groups as I understand what it means to hold different cultures. It was a big culture shock when I went to the UK to study and realised how Asian I was at heart.”

CHINESE INDIAN PORTUGUESE

IRIS CHAI

39, PR CONSULTANT

“I grew up living with my grandparents, who are from China. They listened to Chinese radio, watched Channel 8 programmes, and spoke to me in Hakka. So I identify as Chinese.

I’m comfortable in my own skin now, but I used to wish I looked more Chinese. I was asked almost daily about my heritage, and I didn’t know how to deal with such situations. It had an impact on my confidence, knowing I look different.

But with age, I’ve learnt to cope. These things no longer make me feel any less myself.”

ARAB PERANAKAN CHINESE

INEZ ALSAGOFF

22, STUDENT

“People have a set of expectations of me because I look different. My standard introduction would be that I’m Arab-Chinese.

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