Should My Skin Determine My Value? Episode 36 with Shakun Matani

Our guest today is Shakun Matani whew grew up in a predominantly white community, which valued Eurocentric beauty ideals, Shakun was painfully aware of how different she was as an Indian American. Currently, as a third-grade teacher in Westchester, NY she now goes to great lengths to ensure that everyone in her class understands they are valued. 

In this episode, Shakun talks about what it is like being a teacher at such a difficult moment in history - the pandemic, the election, the insurrection on the Capitol - Shakun shares why it is necessary to talk to children about these things and discusses how she does it in a way that makes her students feel safe. We also hear how she talks to her own children about anti-racism and what she has noticed from having these conversations with them. 

We then learn about her struggles with acne and the long-lasting impact this had on her. As women, we default to self-criticism, so embracing ourselves for all that we are is no easy feat. Wrapping up, we talk about representation and how Shakun’s understanding of what beauty is has shifted as she has gotten older.  

Our email this week (50:51) has the question "what skincare routine should someone do for teenage acne?" Erin and Josey break down some of their favorite products to help deal with teenage breakouts.  

Call Outs from the Episode: 

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Shakun’s experience as a teacher during the pandemic and the fear she has felt.
  • The difficulty Shakun had with her Indian identity when she was growing up.
  • Anti-racism conversations Shakun has with her children; it’s never too early to start.
  • The fear that white people may feel at the shifting discourse around race.
  • How Shakun navigated teaching her students about the election: starting with the history of voting rights.
  • Why Shakun addressed the storming of the Capitol on 6 January 2021.
  • The importance of making students feel safe during uncertain times while still telling them the facts.
  • Struggles Shakun has had with her name, even up until today.
  • How Shakun was different from most of the other students at her school growing up.
  • Shakun's difficulty with acne and the impact it had on her self-esteem.
  • Why it was so hard for Shakun to go to the dermatologist without makeup.
  • What happened to Shakun’s skin when she weaned her baby and why it triggered breakouts.
  • The moment that changed Shakun’s perception of what "good skin" means.
  • Positives that come with social media and the wider range of representation that platforms offer.
  • The effect that being told she was ugly had on Shakun.
  • Our ideas of beauty shift over time and we realize that attributes rather than looks make people beautiful.


 “This idea of being colorblind is very passé and outdated. We don’t do that. And I'm trying to explain to my son to recognize what people look like, recognize they are Black or brown or whatever else and celebrate it and remember that everyone deserves to be equal.” — Shakun Matani [0:12:22]

“Making others feel beautiful is the true meaning of beauty.” — Shakun Matani [0:49:00]

Come have fun with us!
Our private Facebook Group: Erin’s Faces Green Beauty Gathering
Instagram: @erinsfaces

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.