For the 15th BEAUTYfull post, we shine a spotlight on this self-proclaimed “Span-Asian” who mixes beauty and femininity with inner strength and sheer perseverance. Nicole Siobal has overcome many challenges throughout her life and her fighter instincts make her a survivor against any odds. Her signature long locks and dimples soften her up a bit… but just a bit. Having known Nicole for years, I have seen a recent shift into self-care — and subsequently a new self-assuredness and self-awareness — that has created an unmistakable light emanating from a woman forever full of surprises.
BEHIND THE CONCEPT: What is BEAUTYfull™
Spread beauty. It’s our mission. And our goal in spreading beauty is that it reaches everyone. We believe beauty comes in all ages, races, genders, features, abilities, sizes, shapes, body types… in all the unique elements that form each of our unique whole. There is a FULL spectrum of BEAUTY and we all exist in it. With our own personal experiences, stories and voices. And with that, originated the concept of BEAUTYfull™.
For our 15th feature, we introduce to you… Nicole Siobal.
Special note: All photography by Stephania Stanley. Concept, makeup and interview by Lauren Cosenza. Shot in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
THE 15th SUBJECT: Nicole Siobal
Nicole Siobal is a modern-day girlboss with an entrepreneurial spirit. With a background in PR, Nicole now runs a startup called Enjoyye as well as consults for small businesses like Black Iron Burger and Christian Lahoude on marketing, branding and social media. Nicole is Filipino, Chinese and Spanish, and was born and raised in Malaga, Spain before moving to the states at age 13. While people identify her as Asian based on appearance, she identifies and relates most to her Spanish roots mixed with her American upbringing.
Because of both cultural and language barriers, growing up Nicole “was bullied and constantly made to feel like an outsider, which lead to putting more emphasis on social activities such as cheerleading and student government rather than focusing on academics.” Nicole was forced to move out of her parents house and drop out of high school the last semester of her senior year at only 17 years old. She worked as a cocktail waitress at a high-end lounge in Washington, DC, where a dear friend inspired her to pursue her GED. After obtaining it, Nicole attended the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business where she earned a double BS in Marketing and International Business, with a minor in Spanish and Business Culture.
Nicole believes that “facing many trials and tribulations at such a young age ultimately made me much more focused, wiser, stronger and confident in my current journey. It taught me to be quick at making decisions, solving problems, and ultimately skilled at turning adversity into opportunity.”
THE INTERVIEW: Nicole on the pressure to assimilate when you look “different,” coming to love the very things that make you different, and how feeling beautiful starts with self-care.
What appealed to you about the BEAUTYfull project? Why did you want to participate in the series?
What appealed to me about the BEAUTYfull project was its mission to empower every day women and men to celebrate their own beauty inside and out. I wanted to take part in this series, because like 80% of women out there I’ve had had my own struggles in learning how to love myself. Growing up in a place where there were not many people who looked like me, I was constantly faced with comparing myself to others. I always had to learn how to assimilate and being myself was ultimately extremely hard.
Even as an adult, I found myself facing the same struggles. Working in an industry that was all about helping others with their own image, as well as watching your own reputation, made it very hard to be and love myself for who I really am. For a very long time, I feared sharing much of myself with the public because of fear of judgment. It wasn’t until I moved to NYC that the journey to learn to love myself and accept that is okay to be yourself begun. And I can now say that I am happier, more confident and more comfortable in my skin that I’ve ever been.
I know this is something so many of us face in today’s society, therefore, I believe that a platform like BEAUTYfull, where everyday people can share their stories and struggles, is necessary to help and inspire others facing the same issues, and make them realize that is okay to BE who they are. And that no matter what society’s standards are, we are all beautiful in our own way.
Where do you think you (or all women) get their cues about how they “should” look?
I believe that the media plays a major role in what little girls grow up wanting to look like, but I also think that it begins right at home. A lot of beauty rituals and cues of how I should look came from my mom. My mom always taught me that brains were the most important thing first, over beauty. Education was a major thing in my household.
Can you describe the idealized standard of beauty for women as you see it today. What does the perfect woman, as defined by Hollywood, fashion, advertising and social media, look like?
The idealized standard for woman nowadays has gotten way out of line. It’s true that in the old days, women were already made to feel as though they needed to look like a Victoria’s Secret model. But nowadays with social media, the perfect woman must have more than just a good body. They must have the perfect skin, body, outfit, nails… They must have the perfect pose and life. This even goes for men. It’s a bit borderline how obsessed our society has become with being perfect or “appearing” to be perfect, when there is no such thing. I guess we have to thank the tech world for all of the photoshopping apps out there.
How do you think most women compare to this standard, or feel about it? How do you personally?
I think most women feel pressured to keep up with it. Nowadays, you don’t only see influencers and models worrying about their Instagram followers and how many likes they have. I have several friends who are so obsessed with it that they literally live their every day lives watching how many likes or comments they have. I am pretty active on social media myself, but that’s because I have to be do to my line of work.
How do you think social media plays in with both impossible (and in many instances, retouched to perfection) beauty standards on the one side and the democratization and diversification of beauty standards on the other? How does social media affect your views on beauty?
I think social media has played a huge role on how ridiculously obsessed and over critical we all have become with ourselves. Now, we not only have models anymore, but we have influencers and bloggers, and we even have doctors, lawyers, and moms retouching their photos. Although I’ve always been a social media ambassador, I try to draw the limit on my obsession for looking perfect through a visual. Because I’m finally becoming comfortable in my own skin, I don’t think that social media affects my views on beauty as much as it may another person.
When you were younger, was it important to see women in Hollywood or advertising or in music or the modeling world who looked like you?
I didn’t grow up paying too much mind to Hollywood given that I was not raised in the US for the critical years of my childhood, but the lack of diversity in print media and TV still affected me as a child.
Growing up as a mixed child in Spain during the 80’s was extremely difficult, as Spain could be a very racist and unwelcoming country to others of color, especially in the entertainment industry and society world. I believe this was the reason why I became so obsessed with Isabel Preysler (Enrique Iglesia’s mom) who is Filipina. She was the only Filipina celebrity I had to look up to in the media. When I moved to the US, I thought this would change given how much more diverse America is, but this wasn’t the case. Now things are changing and you’re seeing more Asian models, actresses, and celebrities, but that ratio is still very minimal, and I hope to see this change in the next 10 years so that the coming generation does not have to face the same challenges so many of us minorities and people of mixed background had to face growing up.
Is it important to you now?
I believe now more than ever it is more important to me, because I would like to see our society change and stop racially profiling everyone. As someone who has constantly faced racism and criticism because of the color or my skin, I always hoped for the day that people would stop being so shocked when they hear me speak Spanish. This even happens with minorities. True story, the other day I met a man of African decent who was originally from Madrid, who was flipping out because I spoke Spanish as well as I did. I understood his surprise, because where he grew up there weren’t many people like him and I. Growing up, I always thought: imagine the day that you would see an Asian person like me on TV playing themselves, speaking Spanish or English with a heavy Spanish accent. I highly doubt this will happen in the near future, but one can hope.
Who were your first beauty icons? Who do you see as a beauty icon now?
My first beauty icons were my mom and my mom’s litter sister my auntie, Baby. They both always had such style and beautiful skin, therefore, my passion for fashion and skin products begin at a much earlier age than others. By 5, I was already attempting to draw dresses for my mom to sew, and by 10 years old I was already using my mom’s creams and moisturizers. My second beauty icon was Isabel Preysler (Enrique Iglesia’s mom). One of the main reasons was obviously because she was Filipino, but the second was because I loved her posh style.
What do you love about yourself physically? Why?
I would have to say my eyes and face dimples. Which ironically, were always the two things I hated the most growing up. I always hated being called Chinese as a little girl and feeling left out because I didn’t look like anyone else. I felt my dimples made me look fat every time I smiled, so I always tried not to smile too big so they wouldn’t show. Now, I think my eyes is what shows my story, my enthusiasm, my passion for life and is what makes me “me”. My dimples are what showcases my level of happiness, the deeper the dimples, the happier I am feeling ;)
What have you felt pressure to change or alter, or have you otherwise struggled with or felt insecure about? What about your appearance would you like to or have you changed?
I’ve always felt insecure about my stomach. It’s something that I think I struggled with since I was very young. Even though I danced my whole life up to my high school years, I could never seem to get my stomach be as flat as many of my dance team members or friends. I always had a bit of fat on my tummy. Because I have such a small torso, my stomach is where all the fat goes, therefore, I have to work extra hard in that area.
I am finally realizing that diet plays a huge part. The past year, I completely changed my diet. I no longer eat pasta or complex carbs at night and notice a huge difference the next day. I also started working out moderately, some weeks I do yoga, others I train with my awesome friend/personal trainer Stan who also trains Andy Cohen at Equinox, or take a Soulcycle class with my favorite and old-time college friend/instructor Eve Kessler. I am incorporating exercise into my daily routine to fit my hyper active and social personality. I am making each workout session a fun time to spend with friends.
When do you feel beautiful? What makes you feel beautiful?
I feel beautiful when I am feeling good about myself. When I look in the mirror and I am happy with my body, my face and feeling happy overall about life. I think feeling beautiful first comes from learning how to love and be okay with yourself, but you must work on changes and live a lifestyle that allows you to do so. You have to take care of you first.
When don’t you feel beautiful? What makes you feel not beautiful?
I don’t feel beautiful when I know I am not taking care of myself and letting myself go, when my clothes are not fitting, my face looks tired and I am gaining weight because I let myself go.
What is your beauty regimen?
I’ve always taken care of my skin, but not so much my body. Because I am petite, I always took for granted that I would stay petite forever. But when I started working on my startup, I barely saw the light of day. I would barely come out of my house or my office. All I did was work, work, work. Sometimes I would work into the late night/morning hours putting in 14-16 hr consecutive days. That drove me to gain a lot of weight and not really take care of my health or watch was I was eating. In the past year, I have dropped over 20 lbs and have changed my diet and sleep habits. I’m learning how to balance my work and personal life. I have changed my eating habits, incorporated exercise into my life and even started meditating once a day. I even do this to go to sleep, it helps me master that late night owl in me.
Any beauty advice you’ve been given that you particularly appreciated?
Always protect your skin. At a very early age my mom taught me to wear moisturizer and stay away from the sun, which has served me well in addition to having Asian genes.
Who is beautiful to you?
Beautiful to me are those who are confident, happy, caring, giving and kind to others. Those that are happy with themselves and are not afraid to love themselves. Those who have enough courage to recognize their worth and show it to the world. Those who love seeing others succeed around them. Those who give and don’t expect anything back. Those who practice humanity and want to see a better world without hate, racism, inequality and criticism.
What is beautiful to you?
To me beautiful is kindness and humanity. Beauty to me is not about the physical appearance, but about character. You can be the most beautiful person or have the most amazing body or life on instagram, but if you’re ugly and selfish on the inside you become just as ugly on the outside. I believe that a person’s character is what defines how beautiful they are.
Please note this post is not sponsored. All thoughts are unbiased and my own and the subject’s own. All photos are property of DIVAlicious and Stephania Stanley Photography.
For more BEAUTYfull interviews, click HERE.
Lauren Cosenza is the creator and editor-in-chief of DIVAlicious, a trusted beauty/fashionexpert, an on-camera personality and spokesperson, a leading NYC-based professional makeup artist, a published contributor and writer, a brand consultant, a product junkie and an insatiable style seeker — with a former life at Cosmopolitan and Shape magazines.
Serving up style with a side of attitude, her site DIVAlicious gives women (and men) the confidence and permission to be fabulous. The site, with a goal to SPREAD BEAUTY, is filled with must-have products, pro tips and tricks, how-to DIY tutorials, makeovers, style inspiration and insider access. Topics range from beauty, fashion, culture, career, fitness, wellbeing, men’s and unisex offerings.
Stephanie Stanley (or Stephania, as her Greek family calls her) is a New York City-based advertising and editorial photographer who specializes in fashion, beauty, and lifestyle. Her work can be found on ELLE, Harper’s BAZAAR, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Marie Claire, TODAY, DailyCandy, and TeenVogue. Her client list includes Levi’s, JCPenney, Clean & Clear, Microsoft, Olay, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Garnier, TRESemmé, Estée Lauder, Nexxus, GAP, Secret, and more.
Stephanie holds an MFA in Photography from Parsons and lives in Brooklyn with her husband and puppy, Ophelia, where she can be found running along Brooklyn Bridge Park and enjoying chocolate croissants from the local Italian bakery (typically in that exact order).