Today we’d like to introduce you to Yu-Chen Shih.
Yu-Chen, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I’m Malaysian and Taiwanese, so I grew up feeling darker, shorter, and curvier than most “ideal” Asian beauty standards. Growing up, I faced immense pressure from both outsiders and even my own family to change the way that I looked. A phrase I heard often throughout my life at home was “一白遮三醜” — which essentially means that no matter how ugly you are (literally and figuratively), you will look beautiful as long as you have fair skin. I spent most of my carefree years on endless diets and skin whitening treatments, and I eventually developed body dysmorphia and bulimia as a teenager. Even though this was a dark time in my life, it was what sparked my passion for helping other women see their own beauty. I didn’t know this then, but I channeled my pain into creativity and began my journey of healing myself through helping other women feel self-confident with the use of makeup.
Can you give our readers some background on your business?
I consider myself more of an entrepreneur than an artist, but (similar to artists), I was driven to create Orcé out of a need to both express myself and spread a message.
I was born in Asia and grew up in Asia, but I feel like I truly blossomed after moving to the United States when I was 18. When I was living in Asia as a young girl and as a teenager, I had very low self-esteem and lacked confidence. When I was growing up, I felt that there was a very narrow standard of beauty that was imposed on me – not only by society but also by my own mother. I was constantly criticized for being too dark (due to my mixed background and love for being out in the sun), too short and too fat. As a result, I spent my most carefree years on endless diets and skin whitening treatments.
Eventually, I developed body dysmorphia and bulimia from being told over and over again that I had to be more skinny/fair to be beautiful. When I moved to the United States, I first came into contact with the idea of “be yourself” and “you’re enough just the way you are”. Of course, American women struggle with the same issues surrounding body image and self-confidence like every woman does. However, I feel that the standard of beauty here is quite a bit more flexible than in Asia – especially with regards to weight and skin tone. In my personal experience here, women are generally very supportive of each other. For instance, I hear words of encouragement and compliments exchanged between women on a daily basis – between friends, coworkers and even strangers. Negative criticism of one’s appearance is generally frowned upon. Unlike in Asia, where “I think you’ll be much prettier if you lost some weight” seems to be viewed as less of a hostile statement and more of constructive criticism, although no less hurtful to the receiving party.
I remember the year that I moved to Los Angeles, an older woman complimented me on my appearance and I bashfully disagreed with her. Instead of just going on with her day, she stopped to tell me, “When someone tells you that you are beautiful, accept it and say thank you. Because you deserve it! You are beautiful and you are enough. Don’t ever let anyone convince you that you’re anything less.” I was completely taken aback by this stranger’s unexpected pep talk, but I remember being so impacted by her words that I was holding in tears when I thanked her and walked away. I wish to see more of this not only in Asia but everywhere in the world!
What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
Orcé just launched, and I’m involved in every single aspect, from product development to marketing & PR to customer service. Every time I see that we have a new customer coming to our website (www.orcecosmetics.com) to purchase an experience set or a full-size foundation, or following us on Instagram at @orcecosmetics or even just sending us a DM or email I get excited. I’m very involved in every aspect of the business so I see our community growing every day, I’m experiencing firsthand the way people are reacting to the concept and it’s incredible. My main goal with Orcé has always been to speak to a part of the population, myself included, that felt overlooked or underserved, and I’m already starting to see the effects of that by interacting with our customers and listening to their feedback. We’re currently working on new shades and products and hope to continue expanding our shade range so that we have something to offer everyone. That said, I’m a perfectionist so we are not rushing to get newness to the market just for the sake of newness—I want each new shade, each new product, to be created with attention to detail and quality that went into creating the first six shades.
- Website: www.orcecosmetics.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @orcecosmetics
- Facebook: @orcecosmetics/ Orce Cosmetics