Journal

How I learned self-care despite my immigrant mother's asceticism

Sergei Celementa @ 2022-05-06 07:07:24 -0400

Like most immigrant children, I grew up speaking the language of longing. Not for material goods (although those impulses would emerge eventually) but for experiences beyond my own purview. Mostly I coveted romantic tropes I’d learned from books or movies: How families would gather in kitchens thick with chatter and warm bodies, as in Diane Keaton’s films; or how girls would forge friendships in their bedrooms after school, as in the Baby-Sitters Club. Most indelible in my memory were the mother-daughter interactions in Gilmore Girls: the way Rory watched her mother Lorelai prepare for dates, dipped into her mom’s makeup stash, and borrowed...

How to Consume Collagen the Old-School Chinese Way

Sergei Celementa @ 2022-05-06 07:37:37 -0400

Bottled as gummies, ground into powders, or sold as miracle pills, today collagen is touted as an easy-to-swallow skin miracle. Only Chinese women have been eating this protein-rich substance straight from the source, in the form of gelatinous sea cucumbers or stringy bird’s nest soup, for centuries.  While the Western wellness industry now embraces the wonders of collagen-rich bone broth, growing up with a Chinese mom every broth was bone broth. Since childhood, I’ve been eating collagen from all kinds of “weird” and wonderful foods that horrified my white suburban friends. “You’re eating pig’s feet?” a girl once asked me, gaping at my...

On Turmeric, the Root of Love and Healing in My Bengali Home

Sergei Celementa @ 2022-05-06 08:25:13 -0400

The presence of turmeric can be traced back to nearly four thousand years ago. In Sushruta Samhita, a foundational text of Ayurveda, the Indian physician Sushruta recommends the use of an ointment containing turmeric to alleviate the symptoms of food poisoning in 250 BC.  Originally from South and Southeast Asia, turmeric grows as a verdant plant with a lean, spiny flower above ground. Beneath the earth its knobby, parched-looking root contains a center that, when sliced or grated, is golden in color. Turmeric was a medicinal and culinary mainstay throughout the Asian and African continents and amongst Indigenous communities for centuries. In...

I'm Persian — And I Know Nothing About Persian Beauty

Sergei Celementa @ 2022-05-06 08:32:03 -0400

I wish I had a cool story to tell you about how Persian women beautify themselves. Something with rose water or almond eyeliner. Maybe a Cleopatra reference that would sound exotic and make you go, “Oooh, chic.” I don’t. I grew up Persian in America in the ’90s. The era of Cher Horowitz and “yo quiero Taco Bell,” a time when Western society expected minorities to be caricatures of themselves. Much like Jasmine from Aladdin, I was supposed to travel on my magic carpet and serve black tea from a samovar while carrying an array of exotic spices in my harem...

Brown Girl Hands Makes Space for Black Individuality in Beauty

Sergei Celementa @ 2022-05-06 08:28:19 -0400

Founder Hannah Harris is paving the way for the next generation of Black women and brands to rise. They say mother knows best, and I started Brown Girl Hands, a beauty photography product studio, partly because of my mom. After our bi-weekly nail appointment, I pulled my signature Glossier Balm Dot Com from my favorite purse. “Your nails match your balm,” she observed, pointing to my baby blue and yellow french tips that matched the tube’s color palette. “You should take a photo and send it to them.”  I laughed, but my mother’s simple comment stuck with me. It reminded...