Style

My Beauty Uniform: Minaa B.

beauty uniform: minaa

Minaa B. is a Queens-based social worker and psychotherapist, who works with both children and adults. She’s a beautiful person inside and out. Here, she talks about how to build your self esteem, growing up in a family of 15 (!) and products that actually work for acne-prone skin…

beauty uniform: minaa

What is your daily facial skincare routine?
I begin my day by drinking eight ounces of water. I do this to flush out my kidneys and hydrate my skin and body. Then, in the morning and evening, I do a full routine on my skin — and not just on my face, but my neck, chest, upper back and arms, too. I’m 26 now, but I have been dealing with oily, acne-prone skin since I was an adolescent. I’ve found that Neutrogena’s Oil-Free Acne Wash works best. While washing my skin, I also exfoliate by rubbing an exfoliating cotton round in a circular motion. After that, I use Clindamycin phosphate gel 1% prescribed by my dermatologist to deal with the oil. Finally, I apply a little Aveeno facial moisturizer and a dab of African Shea Butter. I recently discovered shea butter and now I’m obsessed.

What’s so amazing about shea butter?
It helps with eczema, dark spots, preventing wrinkles, even body aches. I sometimes get lower back pain, so I massage in she butter, and within five minutes I feel better.

beauty uniform: minaa

Do you wear makeup everyday?
Most days, I apply only a light amount of makeup — I work with infants and toddlers all day, so I don’t need too much! I wear bareMinerals Original Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 15 in Warm Tan to protect and even out my skin. Thankfully, I was blessed with great eyebrows like my dad. They’re naturally thin and arched, but I do brush the Elf Eyebrow Kit (the dark shade) along the curve of my eyebrow — it darkens them and makes them pop.

beauty uniform: minaa

What about for special occasions?
Since I work long hours, any time I get to go out feels like a special occasion. Even if I’m just going to brunch or a museum, I’ll still put on a dress and red lipstick. If I get a night out, I love to go dancing on Thursdays at Arlene’s Grocery in the Lower East Side. It’s free admission, and the music is always a surprise, it could be soul, jazz, rap… Lately I’ve been using lip pencil instead of lipstick. I cover my entire lip with MAC Cherry liner, and it’s surprisingly more moisturizing than the matte MAC Ruby Woo I was using — and it never smudges.

beauty uniform: minaa

Minaa and her mother at her graduation from NYU; she got her master’s degree in social work.

Can you tell us about your job?
Since graduating last year, I have been working as a mental health consultant in the Head Start program. I work alongside pre-school teachers with children who are having a harder time understanding social cues, learning spacial boundaries or verbalizing their needs. I love helping people, especially at this tender age. I also volunteer for the First Lady of New York Chirlane Mccray’s Thrive NYC campaign, which is a plan to overhaul the city’s mental health system; and I founded Respect Your Struggle, a digital magazine that aims to help people manage mental illnesses.

beauty uniform: minaa

Why did you decide to get into mental health?
I struggled with depression as a young child, through adolescence and into adulthood. When I was 16, things got so bad I broke down in the hallway of my high school. A teacher I was close to saw me and suggested I go to counseling, and I remained in therapy for five years. I was the youngest of 13 kids and was very introverted growing up. My family was really loving, but there was just so much going on in our house that I was in my head a lot. I was bullied and teased at school — I felt like an outcast. When I was in college, I realized I wanted to be in a profession where I could help people struggling with similar things. I come from a community where mental health is often overlooked; as an African American woman, I feel like it is not really talked about. I actually hid my struggle with depression from my family. I didn’t tell my mom until I was 23 years old.

How did she react when you told her?
She was shocked. I think her response said a lot about the misinformation of mental health. She said, ‘I tried my best to do everything for you and you seemed really happy. With all the great things in your life, how could you not be?’ But at the end of the day, regardless of how much someone accomplishes, or how much they get in life, they can still struggle with depression. My mother was very open to learn more once I talked to her more about it, which also made me realize even how important it is to discuss openly.

beauty uniform: minaa

What was your household like with 13 kids?
We grew up in Rockaway, Queens. My older siblings were in and out of the house, but there were always at least eight or nine of us staying there — my uncle and cousins lived there for periods of time, too. The kids all shared rooms. My dad loved cooking, so he made dinner for everyone no matter how many people there were. Sometimes we couldn’t all fit around the table, and some people would just eat on the couch. My parents are originally from Panama, so we had lots of Caribbean food — rice and beans, jerk chicken. Despite my struggles, I have very fond memories of growing up with everyone there.

Is there any feature that you weren’t into growing up that you’ve now grown to like?
As a child, I was bullied for my my height and looks. I was always the tallest in the class, and have terrible memories of having to line up by height. Kids also called me ‘Bugs Bunny’ because my teeth protruded and I had a really large gap. It used to agitate the heck out of me. But through therapy and evolving into womanhood, I learned to not let such trivial things bother me or to care about how others define beauty. I love my smile now, I love my gap! I also love my height. I’m 5’10″. It makes me feel sexy — which means a lot now, since once upon a time my height played such a huge factor in my low self-esteem.

beauty uniform: minaa

How do you care for your hair?
My hair is natural, so shampooing can strip the natural oils and make it brittle and dry. So, I shampoo once to twice a month, alternating between Aussie Mega Moist shampoo and By Nature From New Zealand shampoo — which has no parabens, sulfates or silicones. They’re both great for dry hair. Then, on a weekly basis, I wash with just the conditioner that goes with my shampoos.

What about styling?
For a curly look, I use the LOC Method. I apply water as my liquid, I use refined coconut oil to moisturize my hair, and then cream from Aunt Jackie’s Curl La La. Every few months, when the mood strikes, I flat iron my hair. I spray a bit of L’Oreal Sleek It heat protectant, followed by coconut oil, and then I straighten it out with my CHI ceramic flat iron. It lasts about a week.

beauty uniform: minaa

Are you into any new beauty finds for the summer?
Nail polish! Normally, I stick to a simple manicure — I love Covergirl, and my favorite summer colors are Coral Silk and Nuclear Green. But lately, out of nowhere, I’ve found myself wanting something more dramatic. So my new thing is press-on nails by KISS. I apply them with KISS Maximum Speed Nail Glue, file them and apply polish. I’m done in 15 minutes. They last more than a week, and I always carry the glue with me, so if one pops off, I can put it back on!

beauty uniform: minaa

Are there any little luxuries you love in your home?
I’ve had insomnia over the last three years, lying in bed awake for hours before I fall asleep. So now I start winding down two hours before bed — no TV, laptop or phone (that’s a tough one). I always burn a candle to help keep my space safe, sacred and calm. I’m currently burning Zen White Camomile by Colonial Candle, which soothes the soul. I play the Lucid Dreamer playlist on Spotify as my sleep soundtrack, or I use the sleep monitor Sense by Hello, which plays music and tracks my sleep. I apply Vitamin A&D ointment to my eyelids to help with bags and sleep with a silk eye mask so that everything is dark.

beauty uniform: minaa

Are there any scents you love in general?
My signature scent would be a hand and body cream called Milk & Honey by formulary55. For perfume, Prada Milano is my favorite. It’s soft and flowery and lasts all day.

beauty uniform: minaa

Do you have any other major beauty inspirations?
I love Tracee Ellis Ross and her character Joan in Girlfriends. I still watch an episode most nights. Joan is very quirky, very intellectual, and also has this internal battle where she wants more but fails to realize that she’s getting in her own way. I feel like that is me at times. When it comes to her style, I related to her because she has small boobs like me! She always talked about them and always embraced them. I used to want to get a boob job, but she inspired me to accept them. I also looked to her for styling tips for women with small breasts; she taught me that I can still look sexy.

beauty uniform: minaa

What’s the most drastic thing you’ve ever done with your overall look?
When I was younger, I damaged my hair with relaxers, dye and heating tools. My hairstylist told me I had to cut it off. At the time, Rihanna had short hair, so I went for her look. Eventually I kept cutting it shorter and shorter and when Rihanna got a Mohawk, I did too. I occasionally think about chopping it again, but being able to finally put it in a bun on top of my head feels like such an accomplishment!

beauty uniform: minaa

Do you have any other rituals that help you feel great?
I believe in the power of prayer. I have been going to church since I was five and being a part of that community played huge part in getting through my depression. Now, I go to a Christian church in Bed Stuy called Epiphany BK every Sunday and pray every morning. I have an open conversation with God. There is no specific way of doing it — I don’t get on my knees, or do anything ritualistically, I just talk to God like I am talking to anybody.

beauty uniform: minaa

Do you have an overall beauty philosophy? 
I see beauty in kindness, grace, compassion, love, effort, adventure, ideas, community and connection. Living as your most authentic self is the ultimate prize in life. What you look like or how you dress is the last thing on the list.

Thank you, Minaa!

P.S. More women share their beauty uniforms, and the case for snail masks.

(Photos courtesy of Minaa B. Interview by Megan Cahn.)

  1. Mullica says...

    How can I be part of the Beauty Uniform?? I’m NYC based does that help haha.

  2. Stephanie says...

    Can I just say how refreshing it is to see a beauty uniform that involves clindamycin phosphate! :) I have had to use it for the past 2 years to control perioral dermatitis that appeared out of no where. After exhausting all my natural remedy efforts, I finally gave in to this . Now this and Cetaphil Foaming Face Wash are the ONLY things that touch my face.

  3. Audra says...

    I really enjoyed this Beauty Uniform! Such a beautiful and unique person. I also liked seeing someone with affordable tastes and habits, like me!!

  4. Kaci says...

    It is truly great to see a woman of color included in this series. Diversity is beautiful! Keep it coming.

  5. Carolyn says...

    As someone currently working towards my masters in social work and currently working in mental health, it was SO wonderful to see this point of view reflected on your site. I love the beauty uniform series, and I love it even more now that you are expanding the types of professional women that are featured :)

  6. j says...

    this babe has it on LOCK. swooning a little!

  7. Becca says...

    You are a beautiful person in every way. I really loved reading about your bedtime routine! I’m putting candles in my bedroom tonight!

    • Thank you so much! i’m glad you enjoyed reading! xx

  8. Lauren says...

    Love everything about this one!

  9. That was very inspiring!!! I still have a lot of doubts and low self-esteem. This really helped lift my mood up :). Thank you.

    Love,

    http://bemymemories.com

    • Thank you Kann! I hope this will elevate your self-esteem in someway. xx

  10. Erica says...

    loved this BU. Thanks for such stellar contributions, CoJ!

  11. Rosy says...

    As a new(ish) mother I struggle with making enough time to properly eat, sleep, and tending to things that make me joyful. This beauty uniform was a great reminder that self care is a powerful path to beauty! Minaa is perfect – thank you for sharing your thoughtful message.

    • Yes! self-care is soon fundamental to our health and wellness, and doesn’t always need a huge chunk of time. even a daily check in with yourself and how you’re feeling is important. glad you enjoyed reading Rosy. xx

  12. Jen says...

    I also thought this beauty uniform was the best yet. I agree it was refreshing to see someone interviewed whose job and beauty-budget I could relate to. Her digital magazine is amazing too.

  13. CindyV says...

    Wow! This is my favorite Beauty Uniform yet! I love how she has triumphed over adversity and is now helping others. She is gorgeous inside and out. What a stellar role model for young women. Thank you for showcasing women of all ethnicities. Every woman is beautiful! Keep them coming.

    • Thank you Cindy! Much love! xx

  14. Bille says...

    What a refreshing and relatable BU. Well done! More like this please!!

  15. Beth says...

    This one! I always enjoy reading the beauty uniform series, but this one actually had me in tears. I just can really relate to so much of what Minaa talked about, and I appreciate that this blog always brings such a diverse range of ideas to the topic of beauty. “Respect Your Struggle” is such an empowering affirmation, and Minaa is a true beauty.

    • Thank you Beth. Your words are much appreciated. Glad you enjoyed reading! xx

  16. spark says...

    BEST post yet! Thank you. Minaa – you are gorgeous. I want to be your bestie :)

    • Haha!! Thank you so much! ; )

  17. Ethel says...

    a beautiful lady who is very real about her struggles. thank you so much for sharing!

  18. Jennifer says...

    Another stunning woman! And that pic of her with fuchsia lips and turquoise swimsuit–crazy beautiful.

    I love the endless riches of inspiring, beautiful women you share with us. Please never stop doing this series!

    • Thank you Jennifer! That is my favorite summer color ;)

  19. Joy says...

    Really inspiring person. Also love your beauty philosophy!

  20. I am so honored and flattered you have chosen our Milk & Honey as your signature scent! Thank you!

    -Cordelia/Formulary 55

  21. Great, inspirational post! Thanks for introducing me to such a beautiful human.

  22. Beautiful interview (and lady)! Love this series so much.

  23. Mia says...

    We need more Minaas in the world! You are a beautiful person, inside and out. My father lost his battle with depression in 2013, and his embarrassment of his struggle played a huge role, as he hid it from nearly everyone until it was too late. I would love to support your magazine by purchasing that awesome t-shirt you’re sporting, is it for sale?

    • Robin says...

      Here’s the tank, plus a few other great options:

      http://respectyourstruggleshop.bigcartel.com

      Love loved this beauty uniform, as always! Minaa is gorgeous and inspiring inside and out.

  24. Jenny Koenig says...

    Love that prayer is a part of her beauty routine.

  25. Molly says...

    Thank you so so much for starting to focus on women outside the art and design world. I began to find it discouraging to read these articles – even though the previous women all LOOK different, as an outsider, they seemed to have all the same access and process to helping them look good and have their ish together – it started to all feel so similar! This woman is HONEST! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! (Also, as a fellow career woman in direct service myself, there is a stigma in the direct service community around women who also very much care about fashion, makeup, etc. I sometimes feel like I can’t be beautiful and work in low-income communities and do a job well done, or be taken seriously. This perspective illuminates that they are, in fact, irrelevant!)

    • Your comment is so appreciated! Thank you Molly!! xx

  26. Siobhan says...

    Best beauty uniform to date. Please feature more WOC! And women who aren’t the “artist/creative type” as Megan said at the top!

    P.S. Is it possible to get a “Respect Your Struggle” tank anywhere?

  27. Jamie says...

    I NEVER comment (although I read often), but I just have to say how amazing it is to read this beauty uniform. THANK YOU for showcasing a social worker! Wow. So often your beauty uniforms (though lovely and informative) showcase amazing NY artists/designers who can afford more expensive products and whose lives feel unrelatable. It is was so nice to read her story and her approach to beauty. What a beautiful soul.

    • Sara says...

      100% agree

  28. Megan says...

    Been reading for a few years, never commented until today. I have to say this is my favorite Beauty Uniform post so far. I agree with another woman that it is nice to see someone who isn’t an artist/creative type being featured. Please do more!

  29. I am in my sixties, and reading this wonderful post and especially the last piece on Minaa’s overall beauty philosophy has inspired me and reconnected me in this moment on how true beauty feels.
    Wishing you much joy in your life adventure Minaa!

    • Tiffany says...

      I wanted to echo what Jane has commented. Her overall beauty philosophy is wonderful, made me smile. There is still so much beauty in un-worldly things, glad to know others can see it too. Thanks for sharing Minaa (how do you pronounce?)

    • Thank you Jane. Means so much to me that you found this relatable and inspired you in some way.

      Tiffany: It’s pronounced mee-nuh ; )
      Thanks for the lovely words!

  30. Shannon says...

    What a beautiful soul.

  31. Sophia says...

    This is great, thank you for sharing

  32. Jennie says...

    Best Beauty Uniform interview yet!

  33. Megan says...

    Way to take a style post and make it deep, COJ! This is why I love love love this site.

  34. Hanka Gerretsen says...

    Like Minaa B. a lot. She gives me energy. I love to see how she loves life!

  35. Jennifer Marston says...

    SO INSPIRING. Touching on such wonderful head matters and internal conflicts which in turn rule your daily stress level is so important. Once your head and heart are calm, the beauty shines from the inside out – she’s so beautiful! Embracing your past and yourself is so key to daily happiness and her struggles have made her gorgeous – her smile goes to her eyes. And all of her beauty regimes are so core simple and lovely. I loved this post!! Thanks so much!!

  36. Liz says...

    I loved reading this post. As a current MSW student, I got excited as soon as I saw “social worker!” I appreciated Minaa’s honesty. The Thrive NYC program looks like an amazing endeavor, working to address mental health issues early on and inviting people out of isolation…beautiful stuff! Thanks for sharing, cup of Jo staff!

    • Yayyy to MSW students! Thank you dear =)

  37. Rebekka says...

    A beautiful Interview, loved it!

  38. Haley says...

    Maybe I’m biased (I’m a social worker ;) ) but this is my absolute favorite beauty uniform blog yet. I feel like Minaa’s personality and spirit just shines through.

  39. Anastasia says...

    I loved this Beauty Uniform. It’s wonderful to hear from someone who isn’t a fashion expert but who understands beauty is inside and out. Also I love her words on prayer. What wisdom!

  40. LB says...

    I appreciate how open and honest Minaa is rather than trying to project a perfect self which seems to be the mainstream MO these days. Her honesty in talking about her struggles with mental health is really refreshing, as is her general no BS attitude; she’s not afraid to lay it all bare which is very admirable!

    • Ha! I try to have a no BS attitude when it comes loving as my authentic self. So glad you enjoyed reading! xx

  41. Emma says...

    I am so happy that you are covering people that want to make our community better. We do not hear from them often. I would enjoy seeing more content similar to this.

    I just graduated with a Masters of Social Work and work for the office of mental health. It is such a rewarding job.

    Very great post!

  42. How amazing are you Minaa? I love her authenticity and the fact she is so open about how her faith helped her deal with depression. Best beauty uniform yet!

  43. I love that this is so real. Thank you, Minaa. It’s true you have perfect eyebrows! ;)

  44. Stephanie says...

    My favorite so far! I admire her strength and shoutout to mental health professionals!!

  45. Momzi says...

    I am trying to get my masters in social work. I am nearly double Minaa’s age. I wish I knew what I wanted to do when I was younger like her. It is impressive. It really is. I love natural hair too. It looks great.

    • So glad that your are staring somewhere, no matter how old you are. Thank you Momzi, best of luck to you! xx

  46. Cristina says...

    Thanks for this beauty routine. She is awesome and a real beauty. Best one yet!!!

  47. Kate says...

    I loved this one. Thanks Minaa!

  48. Praise for this post! What a well adjusted young woman.

  49. Suzanna says...

    Yes and more.

  50. Wendy says...

    Awesome.

  51. Josephine says...

    This post especially resonated with me- I’m a former counselor and native New Yorker who was born and raised in LIC, Queens. Her story is amazing! Would love to see more features of native New Yorkers in future blog posts.

  52. “Living as your most authentic self is the ultimate prize in life. What you look like or how you dress is the last thing on the list.”

    YES. 🙌🏼

    • Yessssss! xx

  53. Tiffani Green says...

    I love how diverse the beauty uniform profiles are. So many media outlets focus on a very narrow range when they cover beauty, but I love seeing different races, ages and walks of life represented in this series. And all of the women are lovely in a relatable way so I feel like their beauty tips are things I can emulate. Great work.

  54. Renae says...

    Love this one! I have worked closely with so many social workers so know what warriors they can be (child protection in my case). Great choice! She is lovely and smart – great combination – plus I love the price point of her suggestions!

  55. Marlene says...

    I am so happy to finally see a beauty uniform from someone who is not an artist or artisan! I love Minaa look, outlook, and obvious passion for her work. I love this series, and it would be great to see more women from diverse fields. What about someone in a STEM field? We like makeup too :-)

  56. Brianna says...

    Loved this one. The Sense sleep aid looks awesome. I usually fall asleep with Netflix on, but it definitely affects my sleep. I have blackout curtains, but it’s not as dark as I’d like. I may need to make some changes.

    • Sense is awesome (I am biased). Swap out Netflix for some meditative Sleep Sounds.

    • Sense is really awesome! Best thing ever for people who struggle with setting the proper sleep conditions at night.

  57. Cheryl says...

    I had acne all over (face, back, shoulders, chest, etc…) during my teens and twenties. I covered up all the time and felt like I couldn’t just rock a tank top. I often felt so low about it. It’s sad I didn’t have the confidence to say screw it, I’m not perfect and I don’t have to be and just went with the flow. I’m impressed to see this young woman addressing it and accepting it and owning it. My acne is much better now but even my husband reminds me when it flares up, “it’s just a few zits and you’re much more than that zit.”
    Minaa, I see your spiritual, centered and gorgeous old soul. Good luck on your journey!

    • Amber says...

      Oh girl, me too! I didn’t start wearing tank tops until about 4 years ago (I’m 29) and I’m actually considering wearing a bathing suit (haven’t worn one in YEARS because of my acne). It took some uncomfortable/insecure outside of my comfort zone moments to get to this point, but I’m thankful.

  58. Becky says...

    oh my gosh – I just love her! And it is really wonderful to hear a young woman talk about what is beautiful because she lists things that really last. Minaa’s words gives me a lot of hope for our younger generation and she will be a leading light. THANK YOU!

    • Awww thank you so much Becky! xx

  59. Loren says...

    Yes, love her! Very exciting to read such a different BU. Honest and insightful.

  60. Amy says...

    I love what Minaa said about having an open conversation with God every morning. It is my ultimate therapy, too.

    • Stephanie says...

      Same here, Amy! Loved that part.

  61. I love the gap in your teeth, and can’t wait to try the noise maker/sleep tracker!

  62. Nicky says...

    Loved this profile. What an accomplished woman.

  63. Loved this post! She seems awesome. (Also, as a Tracee Ellis Ross fan here as well, there’s an Into The Gloss interview with her, if Minaa doesn’t already know about it:) )

  64. M. says...

    THANK YOU for showcasing this hard-working woman. I’m a social worker and I delighted in reading this.

  65. annie says...

    I really really enjoyed reading this BU. I love how honest she was about her depression. Also thanks for diversifying your BU–both racially and *professionally*! It’s nice to see someone other than a writer/designer/editor/creative type who lives in BK.

  66. Samantha says...

    I must add that I too tried Neutrogena’s oil free facial cleanser but it dried out my skin too much (which is very dry all over my body except my T-zone), and then tried Top Care’s version of it, and I must say it’s even better! I compared the ingredients and about the first half are all the same, and the Neutrogena’s has a bunch of chemicals, but Top Care’s has aloe vera, chamomile and other good stuff for your skin, so I guess that’s why it doesn’t dry it out. Also, Top Care’s scrub for acne (which is made to be compared to St. Yves, that I also used but didn’t love) is great. I had neglected my skin for a long time, and then went back to both of these products and I’m very pleased with the results.

  67. Fiona says...

    I love this blog so much also the parenting around the world…I get ridiculously excited when it comes up in my news feed. Thank you and don’t stop …..please.

  68. Shannon says...

    Awesome Beauty Uniform! I love the Respect Your Struggle tank she is wearing in one of the pictures. As I read on I was excited to see it is a digital magazine she created that I can follow! Great lipstick colors too.

  69. Abby says...

    For the very tall among you, can I ask — is there a way that your loved ones could have talked about your height to make things better?

    My daughter is almost 5 now, but has been at the VERY top of the height charts since she was a baby, and frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if she ended up near 6 feet tall. We talk about it a decent amount now, always as a positive, and she knows that sometimes people think she’s older than she actually is, due to her height.

    Is there a way to speak about it sensitively and supportively? I feel prepared for conversations about body acceptance in terms of weight, but not sure about height.

    • Angela says...

      I’m 5’11” and was always tall. I think it may be more personality-based than anything. Growing up, I wanted to be like everyone else and did not want to stand out, so constantly hearing from family and other adults how great it was that I was tall actually made it worse for me. However, I’ve grown into my height as an adult- I’m more comfortable and feel proud of my height.

    • Rebecca says...

      I’m 5’10 and in my family the only way it was EVER discussed was as a celebration of it. No nicknames relating to my height, no talk about it as unusual in a negative sense. My mum used to tell me how special it was to be tall (she isn’t particularly), and encouraged me not to slouch or hunch my shoulders, which is what you do as a teenager if you’re head and shoulders taller than everyone else. My grandma used to always tell me how much she wished she had been my height and had my long legs, which always made these things feel like special qualities. My love of high heels was never questioned at home, and I was never made to feel as if my height was something I should question.

      Bear in mind also that everything can change at puberty- my darling best friend and I were the same height until we were about 16, both tall for our age, and then I kept growing upwards and she didn’t! I’m 5’10, she’s 5’5! So it’s worth being prepared for celebrating whatever height she is, and ends up, rather than focusing too strongly on specifically celebrating tallness. I hope that makes some sense.

    • Eva says...

      I come from a family of 4 tall sisters (my dad is 6’8) and for us growing up, the most helpful thing was my parents not making a big deal about our height. The hardest was in middle school when the girls hit puberty and the boys are still a few years behind. Having tall, confident role models definitely helps too! (As is the Internet as it’s so much easier to find pants that fit nowadays.) We all wear heels, have dated shorter men, and it’s no big deal! When all 4 of us are together, we still get asked if we are a basketball team :/

    • Abby says...

      Thank you for your replies, ladies!

      Rebecca, great note too about not emphasizing it too much in case it doesn’t pan out. ;)

      My husband is 6’4″ and I’m 5’7″ — so it’s not that likely that either of our girls will be too petite, but I’m just astounded by how our oldest keeps growing and growing. Right now, she LOVES talking about being tall and how she’ll probably be taller than me by the time she stops growing, and how old will she be when she’s at my shoulders or at daddy’s shoulders, etc.

      I wouldn’t discourage her enthusiasm about it at this age, but yeah, I definitely want to keep these things in mind as she gets older and potentially more self-conscious.

    • Kelly says...

      I hit 5’3″ in 4th grade (about 9 years old) and 5’10” in 7th grade (13?) and have settled around 5’11”. Even in my 5’11” frame, I rock my 3″ heels when I want and have been in relationships with shorter guys.

      I was really lucky to have two tall friends in middle school (a guy right around my height and a girlfriend who was a couple inches taller than me!). We were the “tall trio.” I think that made me more comfortable in my height today. All of my family is tall, as well (parents are 5’10”, 6’3″, sister is 6’1″), so that really helped.

      One older family member (kind of like a grandfather) always says “oh, you’re not tall, you’re statuesque.” He’s been saying that since I was a little kid, and that always made me stand up straight and feel proud about my height (when I would sometimes slump my shoulders or round my back to not appear as tall).

      My biggest suggestions would be to not push/limit her because she is tall (e.g., sports, heels), but let her decide about things for herself. Everyone always said “You should play volleyball!” “Umm, no thanks, I’m a theater nerd.” Also, if you do notice her starting to slouch, talk to her about why she’s doing it and why she should be proud of her height/body, whatever it is. Bad posture can be hard to correct once you’re settled into it (hello, bad sitting posture at my work desk!). I know you said she’s young and actually really excited about being tall (which is awesome!), so I’ll keep my fingers crossed this doesn’t become an issue!

    • Kelcey says...

      Yep. I hit 5’10” in 7th grade. There were times it was hard, but I found ways to deal. Finding great clothes that were long enough was tough, but I highly reccommend the Asos Tall line– it’s not just pants that are too short if you’re tall! When I finally started to find clothes that fit, I felt comfortable in my skin. I said this elsewhere in the thread, but CJ Cregg (Allison Janney’s character on the West Wing) was great source of inspiration too. She towered over the men she worked with and just rocked it.

    • Hi Abby!
      I love all these gems the other women shared with you around embracing height. For me I was teased in school but at hope there was nothing weird about it because everyone was tall. I would say continue to speak positive affirmations over our daughter. Remind her of her beauty and her attributes. Teach her that being a “tall woman” is nothing to be ashamed about. Body acceptance is so important and it starts off with planting the seeds of positive self-talk about re-defining the standards society has shaped around beauty. xx

  70. Elizabeth says...

    Loved this so much. Felt so drawn to her I couldn’t stop think how I wished I could be her friend! Thank you for sharing you, Minaa.

  71. This has to be my favorite one. She reminds me of me and congrats to Minaa on her graduate degree ! I am also a Shea butter fanatic and I love her hair and her hair oh if I could get my natural hair to curl just right lol. I al happy to see a person I can relate with because it’s just the little things such as life , likes beauty obsessions that make you feel that you are not alone. as being African Americans she is right when she points out the misinformation on mental health. The past generations would rather hide it and tell you to be strong and not seeing that you indeed need help showing it as a weakness. I’m glad my mother sees it differently and I do also as well as my siblings and close family members. We show the older generation of tough New Yorkers that mental is big and to get treated is a must. She has a great job I know a few people who do it and they are also from New York but relocated here as I myself did to DC. Thanks for the post it made my weekend.

  72. Yes, yes, yes! Lovely. xx

  73. Samantha says...

    This has been by far one of my favorite BU, if not my favorite. At first I though “she definitely reminds me of my best friend in many ways”, like being a psychotherapist and having natural hair, but I can see myself in a lot more things. Physically I might look very different from her, but I can relate in many ways, like the Caribbean background, struggles with acne prone/oily skin, struggling with depression, having small boobs (I wish I didn’t want a boob job anymore) and believing in the power of prayer. I also wear Mac’s lipliner in Cherry as a lipstick! We might as well be long lost sisters, lol.

    I know how hard it is to admit to your mom that you’re struggling with depression, because they do feel like it might be their fault, and like they failed at providing you a good life. For a significant other is hard too. These are people who wanna see you happy and do everything they can to make that happen, and the depression is like a huge slap in their faces. But it’s not something we can control, neither can they. You just have to learn to deal with it, be it through therapy, medication, both or your own thing. It’s been super hard for me to deal with it. Medication didn’t seat well and I’ve been afraid to try anything else, for the fear of depending on it, and therapy is not something I can afford right now. I’m just trying to remind myself of all the positive things in my life when I feel like breaking down, and staying grateful has helped me in not letting depression overpower me.

    • SG says...

      Please don’t give up on therapy! I’m a graduate student now, getting my master’s in counseling, and I know that there are many nonprofits and other centers that offer therapy on a sliding scale. I’m not sure where you live, but here in DC, they can offer therapy for less than $50. Please don’t try to go it alone if you need help. Therapy is pricey, but what it can offer is priceless. I was there, and I know firsthand. Hang in there!

  74. catalina says...

    I love this post! what an adorable young woman, so deep and mature.
    I too was bullied for my height, and as for the gap between the front teeth, in France it’s actually a cool thing, it’s called “les dents du bonheur”: happiness teeth!

  75. Jan W says...

    I’m blown away by the easiness to connect to and the openness of this post! I noticed a lot of commonalities with myself and Minaa and it is simply just amazing to see her have that incredible internal love and energy and for her to share it with us! I’m a SPED educator so I loved reading about someone who I could actually interact with on a regular basis and be able to relate to on so many levels! Go Minaa!!!!!!
    Thanks for sharing Cup of Jo crew!

    • Thank you Jan! = )

  76. Maureen says...

    What a beautiful woman. I have struggled with depression as well and prayer helps me too. It’s hard to claw your way out of the pit on your own strength. I think God sits patiently with us in the darkness, waiting for us to ask for help.

    • Colleen says...

      What a beautiful picture of God! I wish you well in your journey:)

  77. Jenni says...

    I don’t think I’ve ever commented before but I’ve been reading your blog forever Joanna and I feel compelled to applaud this woman and this Beauty Uniform post, for featuring an incredibly inspiring woman of color who is more relatable in her products she uses for those of us with not a ton of money to burn on beauty items. I love the aspirational side of beauty as well, but this was wonderful to see. With the passing of Bill Cunningham I have been thinking a lot this week about how he captured style from all sorts of people. Thanks for the reminder that the designers/creative industry are not the only people to follow in this world!

  78. Cynthia says...

    Minaa is amazing! I’m really impressed with her being a social worker, and her attitude toward life. Her inner beauty shines through, and I enjoy reading about young women who are not obsessed with using expensive products. I pray, too, and it really helps.

  79. Meg says...

    My favorite so far – so inspiring!

  80. Lauren E. says...

    Girlfriends!!! My favorite sitcom of all time. And just one of the many, many mentions in this article that spoke right to my heart. Thanks for a fantastic profile.

  81. Sara says...

    I use the Kiss nails, too! And also carry nail glue in every bag. I love them, and I feel like no one really talks about them!

  82. So much beauty. I also love love love her “Respect Your Struggle” shirt. She should sell those. xo

  83. Beautiful inside and out! I loved hearing her story and I believe in the power of prayer too.

  84. LC says...

    Loved this beauty uniform. I think I need to try Shea butter now!!

  85. Lovely inside and out, indeed! Bright colors, like that jade green, are particularly beautiful for you.

  86. Laura says...

    So lovely!

  87. Love, love, love this! Minaa, you are beautiful, strong, and an inspiration!

  88. Jeanine says...

    YES! A woman of color AND a woman who has a normal non-design/tech/startup/lifestyle job!

  89. Jill H. says...

    Loved this one. An ‘ordinary, extraordinary’ woman of color. Keep ’em coming, Jo!

  90. Liz says...

    love love love!

  91. It was great to hear from someone in the helping field! As a counselor I really enjoyed her perspective. I love the comfort she exhibits in sharing her story!

  92. Heather D says...

    LOVE this. Thank you so much for putting the spotlight on such a beautiful, soulful woman. I really, really appreciate that she uses products that are affordable. Most of the beauty products mentioned in these uniform articles are way out of reach for me, but this stuff is affordable! Love it!

    I also love that she openly speaks in support of her faith and Christianity. That’s not a popular road these days and I highly respect it.

    • rachel says...

      I totally agree with everything she said!

    • I agree Heather. I live my life unashamed of my faith, morals and beliefs. That comes with practicing authenticity. So glad you enjoyed reading!

  93. Katie says...

    What a beautiful profile! THANK YOU for featuring a social worker in this series!! As a fellow MSW it is great to see positive examples of the profession in the real world.

  94. Erin says...

    I can attest to the magic that is pure Shea Butter – one year I got poison ivy all over my forearms, which caused horrible blisters, followed by what seemed like involuntary itching, followed by scars that looked like someone had clawed my forearms for a week. Someone told me about shea butter, and I tried it on these scars, which are now completely GONE. Great Beauty Uniform!

  95. Gina says...

    Probably the best one so far. It’s nice to read about women using expensive potions etc but there is something that very real about this profile. I can relate. She’s a recent grad, she is doing good in the world (and not just selling some hipster Brooklyn product) and a woman of colour. Joanna, you are getting me in all the right places.

  96. Amber says...

    Wow! This comment section is so telling and fascinating. Just me observing :D Anyway, “exfoliating cotton round”! These exist?! Gonna have to try them.
    Another fantastic Beauty Uniform post for sure. Like everyone said, Minaa is incredible inside and out.

  97. Anaclara says...

    An inspiration! Thank you. My favorite Beauty Uniform to date!

  98. your are so beautiful inside and out, Minaa. Love the beauty uniform!

  99. Becky says...

    Thank you for featuring women of color! Articles like this help me own my beauty and love myself more fully.

  100. Rachel says...

    Hands down best Beauty Uniform ever.

    I don’t have acne prone skin. I have to wash my hair quite regularly. I am in a completely different life stage, different region of the country, different profession, etc., but I still found it to be the most relatable and inspiring profile yet–I think because above all, I see Minaa’s beautiful spirit shining through as I read her words.

    • married w/2 says...

      Yep. Me too

    • Thank you dear! =)

  101. Meghan says...

    What an inspirational woman! Social workers do hard, important and vastly under appreciated work. This woman’s beauty and vivacious spirit SHINES.
    I love all that you put out, Jo, but this is a particularly refreshing, compelling and thoughtful read. Thank you for your commitment to diversity, mental health and different socio-economic status. We all just love you, Jo! (Can I call you Jo? :)

  102. Theresa says...

    Loved this post…beautiful person! I am a social worker and an ethnic minority, so it was great to see a post about someone in the same profession as me and a woman of color! I have a gap in my front teeth as well! I’ve learned to embrace it and so glad my Mom balked at putting braces on me for “cosmetic” reasons.

  103. jen says...

    wow gorgeous inside and out.

  104. Kelsey says...

    Fist bumps to representing the social workers! All of your work sounds amazing Minaa- thanks for sharing!

  105. g says...

    What a gorgeous woman, inside and out! Loved this.

  106. Minaa is my favorite beauty profile you have done. She seems so low-key and relatable!
    And the work she is doing, my goodnes, what a difference she is making in the world! Bless her!

  107. Jamie says...

    What a gorgeous human being! I absolutely love Minaa’s beauty philosophy (and need to write that down).

  108. J. M. G says...

    Thank you so much for this profile. She’s inspiring on so many levels, both personally and professionally.

  109. Leah says...

    Beautiful and real! Her web site is wonderful and inspiring too. I would love to know if she is selling her RYS t-shirts…!

    • Erin Mary says...

      Agreed! I want a shirt (especially if the proceeds support her awesome organization!)

  110. Emma says...

    Minna B. is so awesome! Thanks for sharing. On a side note, I am really surprised that her derm thinks Aveeno and Neutrogena are OK for her to use. Aveeno is FILLED with horrible ingredients (everal are known carcinogens, many other ingredients banned by Canada and EU) Di-PPG 2 myreth-10 adipate, TEA cocoyl glutamate, 1,4-dioxane etc… Face wash doesn’t stay on the skin long enough to be well absorbed so it’s OK to buy a cheaper item but the product should be incredibly mild, containing nothing that can further irritate the skin. My two cents…

  111. Kate says...

    I’ve literally never commented on the site before, but seeing this article inspired me to. Thank you so much for including someone who isn’t in the design field, who works in a helping profession, who uses mostly affordably priced products, and who is a woman of color. Please include more like this!

    • Emily says...

      I agree with Kate!

    • Trish says...

      I agree! Very refreshing!

    • Anitra Sweet says...

      Yes!! Couldn’t agree more!

    • So true! Really loved reading about someone who works in a slightly more relatable field.

    • elizabeth says...

      AGREED!

    • Tracy says...

      Another AGREE from a fellow therapist! And I would love to wear one of those shirts to work! Sell them, Minaa! You are just adorable.

  112. K says...

    Thank you so much for profiling someone who is not a ‘tastemaker’. It is hard to avoid the design world on the internet, and seeing someone who’s career is not about social media or self promotion is really, really refreshing and relatable.

    • Sil says...

      It’s true! We finally see someone who has a “real” job!

    • I thought the exact same thing reading the introduction!! Such a refreshing change in profession (as well as the usual racial/physical diversity).
      Such a great read!

    • Rebekah says...

      Yes!!

  113. Claire says...

    I really loved this post, Joanna and Megan! It was really refreshing to hear someone talk so openly about experiencing depression and how hard it can be to share that with your family, even if you have a close relationship with them. It was so fitting in a beauty uniform post as mental health so heavily impacts your perception of your appearance and outlook on the world. Thanks for sharing with us, Minaa!

    And three cheers for social workers! What important work! Thanks for sharing the First Lady’s website – I learned so much about what’s being done in NYC!

  114. Katie Bunyea says...

    LOVE this woman. Beautiful words, beautiful soul. Thank you so much for sharing. <3

  115. Celeste says...

    This was so candid and she seems like a really beautiful person from the very core! The part where she talked about telling her mom about her depression was really tender and lovely. This is one of my favorites!

  116. I had the opposite problem! I was usually the shortest in my class. For class pictures, they’d line up all the boys sitting on the bottom and the girls standing behind them, and more than once, they had me as the only girl sitting down with the boys because of my shorter stature. Of course now I wouldn’t care, but it was one of those trivial things that can’t go unnoticed at that age.

  117. Lovely! What a beautiful and inspiring woman. I can’t wait to check out “Respect Your Struggle.” I grew up with a mother who has mental health issues, and occasionally struggle with depression and anxiety myself, so I love seeing more support in this area.

    Also, Neutrogena’s Oil-Free Acne Wash really is the best. Love the body wash too!

  118. Remy Robert says...

    Minaa is so beautiful! I loved this. I am always so happy to read the latest installment in this wonderful series! FYI, the link to the Spotify playlist is broken! There’s still a TK on it :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you, remy!

  119. Lauren says...

    I’m also very excited to check out her digital magazine!

  120. Kelcey says...

    I’m a tall girl too– 5’11” barefoot. When I was preteen I was ALL ABOUT the show The West Wing (very normal for my age group…not), and part of it was that I totally wanted to BE CJ Cregg. She was so much taller than most of the men on the show and still wore heels and just owned it. I certainly don’t work at the White House or wear a suit every day, but I still consider CJ (And Allison Janney) style icons.

    • Anne says...

      5’11” – me too. And I can totally relate to you, Kelcey. One of the many reasons (loyal, smart, sharp tongue, The Jackal lip sync…) I liked CJ Cregg was her height. I love my heels – we don’t need to wear them to look taller, but we can and should wear them despite our height.

  121. Loved this!! Beautiful!!

  122. cca says...

    I love this, God Bless her.

    These post are so diverse and informative. Great job

  123. Tall girls unite! As a 6′ 2″ girl who ALSO dreaded lining up by height in school….I have to wonder: why is that even a thing? You would never dream of lining up a class by any other physical characteristic (weight? hair color? skin color?) So why height?

    Even though it sounds like I’m still not over it, I promise you, I am. :)

    • Kelcey says...

      As a photographer– we line people up by height so that when we stack kids up on the risers for class photos we can see everyone’s beautiful faces :)

  124. Kathy says...

    Social Workers ROCK! Saving the world one person at a time with kindness :-) Kathy (social worker too) Great Beauty Uniform!

  125. Jenny says...

    I LOVED this post!! I follow Cup of jo religiously and feel very connected to the stories and postings…but I love seeing women of color AND women in the helping professions (I’m a social worker too). I love design, shopping and fashion but also really love posts about women in other professions too, especially mental health and helping others. THANK YOU!! :) Keep them coming please!!

    • Kat says...

      I couldn’t agree with this more.

  126. Amanda says...

    I’ve been using the Neutrogena Oil-free Acne Wash since I was 12. I’ve tried other cleansers, but in 17 years, nothing has worked as well for my skin. My doctor thinks I’m crazy, but my staple wash with a prescription topical keeps my skin under control. I’m so glad to hear I’m not the only one!

  127. Gorgeous! That picture from graduation is especially lovely – you can see so much happiness on both their faces :)

  128. Anna says...

    Thank you Joanna for featuring such a lovely young woman! Minaa, I loved everything you shared. There were so many things I felt like we had in common: I too was often the tallest girl in the class growing up and felt so insecure about it, but I’ve learned to love my height and even embrace heels — something I thought I would never do! I am learning to love my small breasts. And I too often speak with God in conversation. It’s a wonderful way to start the day. Finally, I must compliment your beautiful natural hair. I use the LOC method on my Ethiopian daughter’s hair and it’s been exciting to watch it grow. I’m looking forward to looking into the products you recommended. You rock a great bun!

  129. Minaa, the work you do is so important and I thank you for giving to others the way that you do. That made me smile at you. Secondly, HELL YES for small boobs! As a woman who has been every size (college weight gain, post-college weight loss, birth control, then no birth control), I find myself admiring smaller boobs these days. They are feminine and fantastic and look good in all styles of clothing. I love how you’ve grown to embrace everything about yourself. It’s the best way to be. Rock on, girlfriend :)

    • Amy says...

      Yes to small boobs! I always had small boobs and had a love-hate relationship with them (my husband just loved them), and then they exploded when I had my first baby (from an A/B cup to a DD). Three babies later, I’m done having big boobs and hope that they shrink back down when I’m done feeding the last babe! It’s not that they look bad; they look fine – it’s mostly because they still feel foreign. I still think of myself as small-chested and when I see myself in a mirror I still feel surprised!

  130. Cindy says...

    I confess that sometimes I skim the articles in this series, but I drank in every single word of this one. What a beautiful woman.

  131. My opinion :
    It doesn’t matter what she wears or how her hair is styled, that is all “window dressing” … that girl has the most beautiful smile .. that is all she needs :)

  132. Love. This. Such a refreshing read and really admire her for owning her struggles and embracing them.

  133. Nicole says...

    I want to echo what a lot of the commenters are saying – it’s so refreshing to see someone REAL. A woman of color who has a prescription from her derm and uses drugstore products! She isn’t an “influencer” or creative professional! I love it, more of this please!!

    • R. says...

      yes, I felt the same way! So nice to see someone working-class and whose favorite products I can actually afford.

    • Yes, praise for the beautifully ordinary! I love this series and the other women that have been featured, but I love learning about women outside of the elite circle of stylists/designers/creative “influencers”; the rest of us bring beauty and meaning to the world, too. Thank you so much for featuring Minaa! More of this, please!

    • Alice says...

      Totally agree! More women outside of the upper middle class/white bubble please!

    • Emily H says...

      Agree! I am loving how a woman of color, working a normal (yet extraordinary!) job that had nothing to do with design/fashion using everyday products I can actually afford is featured. Please feature more women like this!!

    • Lauren says...

      yes! also, she just seems wonderful. i love how she talked about how she prays/talks to God. Really great to see someone in your non-blog field!

    • Jessica says...

      Word! I love reading about all kinds of people! This was fantastic!

    • Heather says...

      i was scrolling down to the comments to say something just like this. I’ll jump on this group – YES to all of this!

    • Cooper says...

      I totally agree! I was thrilled to see that so many of the products she uses could be found at my local Target!

      I’ve loved all of the beauty uniforms in this series, and I enjoy reading about the products others use, even if they’re generally too expensive for me, but this post just really emphasized that living as your authentic self is what makes you beautiful! I also appreciated her very real description of prayer!

    • Jennifer says...

      Totally agree! So nice to see a diverse group of women featured here – as a woman with a more rigid career that requires me to work a lot on hours that I don’t have a lot of control over, I really relate to Minaa’s life. As interesting as the tastemaker / fashion-industry profiles can be, after a while they feel so foreign to me that I find it hard to relate or stay interested.

  134. Sarah says...

    I love her confidence. It really does add so much to someone’s look. And now I want to try the press on nails!

  135. Meg says...

    In a series that I anticipate and adore, this is one of my favorites! At every turn, I keep saying out loud, “She is the most beautiful person…she is the most beautiful person…”

    • Meg says...

      Also, I LOVE the show Girlfriends, too. Joan’s my favorite.

    • Kathy says...

      Ditto!! Thanks, Joanna, for this one.

  136. RT says...

    Down to Earth, and beautiful inside and out. Loved this one Jo!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      agreed! thank you, RT!

  137. Talia says...

    I loved this! Her down to earth attitude is so refreshing. She is truly a beautiful woman inside and out – delightful!

  138. Emily says...

    Love her and her honesty about mental health. As a public health professional, I appreciate seeing somebody in the healthcare/social justice-oriented world represented here. I’d love to see more Beauty Uniforms like her please!

    • Lauren says...

      This fellow public health professional seconds that!

  139. AmyB says...

    I second the other comments made, and wanted to add one more – it was fantastic to see a feature on someone who uses drug-store products! Blogs, in general and this one specifically, so often feature products that are high end labels…my budget is not everyone’s, and I know lots of people can afford $200 shoes and $70 face creams, but this woman uses Neutrogena! And Elf! Things I can test out, too, without feeling guilty about the expense. So thanks for that :)

    • Emily says...

      I agree! Yes to affordable products!

    • RT says...

      I was about to say the exact same thing. It was nice to read about a person who uses things the vast majority of us do!

  140. Ali says...

    She is lovely! I like her openness and outlook on life. Love this series!

  141. She is just lovely in every way. She has an amazing ability to change her look with hairstyle and makeup–so different yet always beautiful. And I love what she says about her career choice.

  142. This was wonderful and she is fabulous. I have lots to comment on, but mostly I have to say it was nice to hear from someone with acne-prone skin. I always had clear skin until I went off birth control and then BAM. Now I’m always so self-conscious about it and I really wish I could knock that off. Anyway, this was a nice change from the “my skin is naturally flawless so I don’t have to do anything” ladies. I used to be one of them… and I hope to get back… but for now, this was refreshing to hear someone say they struggle too. (And her skin looks GREAT! :)

  143. Lauren says...

    Loved this Beauty Uniform! The vulnerability in her honesty is so empowering for all women. And that last paragraph of her overall philosophy is just brilliant. Thank you for sharing, Minaa B!

  144. Dana says...

    Two takeaways: 1) girl can rock a strong lip, 2) what a fantastic overall beauty philosophy. Minaa, you’re lovely through and through.

  145. Katy says...

    I love this interview, especially her overall beauty philosophy!

  146. Isa says...

    Joanna,
    Thank you so much for including amazing non-fashion/blogger/social media guru women in your My Beauty Uniform series. As a young healthcare provider who also enjoys fashion, writing, photography, blogs, clothing, makeup, etc. I often feel out of the loop with these types of articles on other websites and blogs because I’m not employed full time in a creative profession. Even though it’s my own insecurity that I’m overcoming regarding not following my creative pursuits as my primary source of income, it is really validating to read about the interesting beauty regimens and and creative inspirations of someone in a similar profession as me.
    xoxo

    • Katherine says...

      Definitely agree! I’m someone else who works in healthcare, and it’s good to see non creative-working types featured. I understand that many who work in creative industries may be more focused on aesthetics than those in science/data, and so may want or feel able to talk about it more (which helps in interviews), but variety, and breaking across our divides, is great.

    • Breena says...

      Yes!! I feel the exact same way!

  147. Cortney Bolek says...

    what a beautiful woman! inside AND out!