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My beauty uniform: Angela Garbe’s Cup of Jo

Angela Garbe's beauty uniform

Angela Garbes Essential Labor: Mothering as Social Change is the book you will give to anyone who has ever spent part of their life taking care of another human being. We were excited to talk to the Seattle-based Filipino-American author – and mother of two young girls – about signature lipstick, gray hair and her love of Dance Church …

My beauty uniform: Angela Garbes

I cried almost immediately when I started reading Necessary work. The moment that pushed me over the edge: “If we were to think about working in relation to our humanity – making people feel worthy, valued and whole – then caring is the most important work we can do with our time on the earth.”
If you do nothing in your life but take care of yourself – which is hard – and take care of your people, and maybe expand it a little bit into your community, that’s a lot! It is worthy work, it is essential work, and it must be celebrated as such. But it has never given its right and value.

This felt especially true during the pandemic.
I felt that of course we should talk about health and grocery and sanitation workers as essential workers, but I kept thinking: Why do we not talk about mothers and parents as essential workers? It was so obvious!

My beauty uniform: Angela Garbes

You open the concept of motherhood to include much more than just “mothers” – you frame it as a verb that can be performed and performed by so many different people.
Taking care of elderly, sick or disabled people is not an individual responsibility, it is a social responsibility. Raising children is a social responsibility. So much of parenting is talked about as individual choices: If we choose the right baby carrier, it will somehow lead to a better human being. But it is so not that! What makes a difference is if we have health care and a village of people who can help raise our children. A village includes mothers but also fathers, aunts, grandparents, friends, babysitters. Mothers typically still perform most of the care, but this work must be performed jointly.

My beauty uniform: Angela Garbes

Photo of Elizabeth Rudge.

Pleasure comes up several times even in the intro – I love that you anchored it as a fundamental aspect of being alive. And that it is NOT about pleasure in especially motherhood. How did you come to that understanding?
I’m totally a hedonist! However, I have struggled with this part of me: Am I lazy? Is hedonism bad? I just like to feel good! And I do not know how we are driven away from feeling good. Some people worry: How can we feel good when the world is on fire? But the work of survival is something that marginalized people and people of color have mastered over time. You do not survive without finding joy or finding hope. I’m very aware of how difficult the world is right now, but I’m come to a place where it’s my right to feel joy. I want to give people a push to find it for themselves.

My beauty uniform: Angela Garbes

During the pandemic, how did you write practically Necessary work?
Number one: my husband, Will. My husband, bless him, is the best and hottest person I know. He pulled out our Google Calendar and said, ‘I know that in order to write this book, you do NOT have to be at home. So every three weeks you have to leave, for a minimum of three nights and up to a week. It’s my time to go up. Let’s put this on the calendar right now. ‘ He had our support system: our pod family, my parents. I was supposed to be the beast who drank coffee at all times, ate spaghetti for breakfast and had no other obligations than to work.

My beauty uniform: Angela Garbes

Angela and her mother

What did the women in your family teach you about beauty?
What I was explicitly taught about beauty was what the women in my family were taught: colonial beauty standards. This was not a place that felt good to me, so I have spent most of my life rejecting it. So it was kind of a blank slate with regard to my daughters.

My beauty uniform: Angela Garbes

What are you hoping to give your daughters?
Our babysitter Penelope – who is Lindy Wests stepdaughter! is mixed race just like my daughters. They always compare their skin color with Penelopes. One day she appeared in a T-shirt that read: ‘You were brainwashed into believing that European traits are the epitome of beauty.’ Noli, my older daughter, read everything, so we asked, ‘Have you read Penelope’s T-shirt? Let’s talk about it! ‘ We talked about what Europe is like this area of ​​the world which is really small and that Penelope’s family is from Nigeria, in Africa which is a very large continent. And this is where our family comes from, the Philippines, in Asia, where most people in the world are concentrated. We explained that people like us are more than those who fit this unattainable European standard of beauty.

I feel like we have the same beauty routine: gray hair, oily lipstick, earrings. Let’s start with hair.
I dyed my hair for almost 10 years but kept my gray line in front because I did not want to hide completely and it was a step towards body acceptance. During the pandemic, I became curious about what my hair really looked like and figured I could always dye it back. The end result is freedom.

My beauty uniform: Angela Garbes

Has it made you look any different about aging?
The lack of imagination I had as a thief-something. It was not because I did not think I would survive after 40, I just never thought about it! The Middle Ages were just a cliff. But now I know that some of my most transformative changes will happen in the next 20 years. I do not have to look the same way!

My beauty uniform: Angela Garbes

How do you care for your hair?
I’m about simplifying my life. I wash my hair only once or twice a week using New washalso Undressed spray at style.

And lipstick: you have a lot!
I rotate through distinctive lipsticks and wear each faithfully for several years. They have become ever brighter and more playful: in my twenties it was MAC Paramount (maroon, my personal tribute to Mary J. Blige); my thirties were MAC Chile (brick red); in the forties I settled on a bright orange red, which unfortunately seems to have expired. Next I will try Tigress by Studio Tanaisa WOC-owned company that I am so happy to support.

My beauty uniform: Angela Garbes

How does lipstick make you feel?
I have plump lips, so when I put on lipstick I do not think about what is wrong with my body. I highlight a part that I have always loved.

What about earrings?
These days, my hangers are perfect Laura Lombardi’s Curve Earrings. I also experiment with Sevilla Michelle’s gold leather bamboo door hammers.

You mentioned that your beauty inspiration is Sade. What do you admire about her?
It’s sad! Gold earrings, bold lip, minimal makeup and beautiful brown skin. Sade is one I grew up watching, and who was unlike any other, a breath of fresh air. I know I do not look like her, but I thought, here is a beautiful brown woman.

My beauty uniform: Angela Garbes

Dancing is a big part of your book – especially the guided fitness class Dance church. What has Dansekirken done for you?
The way I appear in a dance class is not always how I have appeared in rooms throughout my life. I feel free, as if I am dancing only for myself. Much of my life I have felt like too much, but on the dance floor I am not.

My beauty uniform: Angela Garbes

What is one thing you hope people take from your book?
It’s easy to call people up, but I’m much more interested in inviting people in. So how do you do that? How can we encourage children and the elderly to interact? How do we encourage care as a thing that gives us things that we are not used to in our world of immediate gratification? I am talking about a non-quantifiable but deeply meaningful and emotional experience.

Can you recommend an action we could all do right now?
My friend Ai-jen Poo, chairwoman of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, says we are in a historic moment where she believes there is a direct line between caregivers and change, and the next month is critical. She encourages everyone to do so call their senators and legislators, tell them that caring matters. They have provisions for funding nursing at the federal level. So call to share your care stories, share photos on social media and tag your senators; Tell them that care is important. Anyone can do this as a tangible, small object of action.

My beauty uniform: Angela Garbes

Thank you, Angela!! Find her book here.

PS More women share their beauty uniformsincluding cook Zoe François and Japanese breakfast Michelle Zauner.

(Two portraits of Elizabeth Rudge. The dance church’s picture is lent by Dansekirkens Instagram. All other images courtesy of Angela Garbes’ Instagram. )

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