Raising A Mixed Race Girl In A White World

mixed race girl

My husband and I looked at each other shocked. We had just heard our daughter say something we never thought would be an issue. Our gorgeous little mixed race girl, only three years old, said she didn’t think she was beautiful.

Suddenly, I was aware I had a blind spot.

I had assumed – because everyone comments how pretty she is all the time, and because she is so clearly gorgeous – that us reinforcing her other qualities would be enough.

I didn’t expect that all the people she herself thought of as “beautiful” didn’t look like her.

It happened as I was watching my daughter playing with her precious Anna doll (from FROZEN) with her Dad. They were brushing Anna’s hair. My husband asked her, “oh look at her long hair. Is Anna beautiful?” “Yes,” said my daughter quickly.

Then he asked “Is Juni beautiful?” And then, just as quickly, my gorgeous little three-year-old said, “no.”

Hearing her say she didn’t think she was beautiful was like a punch in the gut.

I jumped into the conversation:

“Of course Juni is beautiful! Juni is also strong and brave just like Anna, and she’s kind and funny like Anna! And beautiful! Juni is very pretty like Anna! Why would you say Juni’s not beautiful, baby?”

She seemed so unbothered. We were definitely the more upset ones in this situation. But as we talked, she finally said it.

“Mama red hair. Anna red hair. Juni no red hair.”

It hit me like a ton of bricks. My daughter is a mixed race girl. Her favorite character is a white girl, with naturally red hair just like me. She saw those as the things that make you beautiful. Sweet, simple, and incredibly painful to realize.

The reality is, there are no children’s characters like my mixed race girl, half asian and half white.

My child is so uniquely beautiful. I had assumed that other people commenting on it all the time would sink under her skin, and if anything we would spend her life making sure she didn’t JUST value her beauty.

I knew that over-valuing my looks made some difficulties for me later in life. However I’d never had a lack of representation.

I grew up seeing myself in THE LITTLE MERMAID. In PIPPI LONGSTOCKING. In Jessica Rabbit. I knew my red hair made me special.

While we are generally getting more representation for people of color and ethnic minorities in our media, role models for mixed race girls and boys are in a whole different ballgame. Representation is a process in terms of our culture.

How long did it take to get people of color represented beyond the stereotypical roles at all? The answer is way too long.

When my daughter watches her favorite cartoons, there is no one with her skin tone, her eye shape, and hair color combo.

She is such a perfect mixture of our features. We get people commenting all the time:

“Where did she get those eyes!?”

The check out girl at the super market asks, looking at me and her father with our dark eyes. My daughter’s eyes are a hazel/grey/blue/green that she inherited from her uncles. Her hair is just slightly auburn in the light, but mostly a light brown neither of us have. Her eye shape is a subtle mix of her father’s almond and my own more round shape. This all makes her totally unique.

It also means no one looks like her and she will deal with the issues her life long.

Things my white privilege made me incredibly unaware about as the mother of a mixed race girl.

So what to do? Well, hop on the internet and talk to other mothers of mixed race children. While it might be that there is a lack of representation in media, mixed kids are more common than ever before. Mixed race families are practically the norm here in Southern California. Juniper certainly isn’t the only one in our friendship group, school, or anywhere else we go.

My friends suggested things from Barbies that look mixed race to this great article about how to celebrate diversity with our kids. Books are on their way to our house as we speak like It’s Okay to Be Different, and The Colors of Us.

Mostly, I’ve realized that issues of race and white privilege come much earlier in life than I anticipated.

That’s probably no shock to my friends who aren’t white. However, this stuff takes time to learn if you haven’t lived it yourself and even the most “woke” of us have so much room to grow.

I just hope I can do enough to make sure my mixed race girl knows she is beautiful, and her differences make her even more so.

Raising A Mixed Race Girl In A White World PIN

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Liz McTan is an entrepreneur, blogger, singer/songwriter and above all a mom. On her blog The Redheaded Rambling Mama she focuses on the necessity of connection and establishing our own village. Liz also writes about maintaining a sense of self after children, and beating the illusion of perfect parenting we see throughout social media and keeping a sense of humor to stay sane. She is a proponent of traveling, protesting, and even attending festivals with your kids. Through her battle with post-partum depression and anxiety she has found a new sense of self and purpose in her writing and music with her band Echo Hill. You can read more of her work at www.redheadedramblingmama.blog or on her social media pages www.facebook.com/redheadedramblingmama and www.instagram.com/redheadedramblingmama


  1. Hi Liz, thanks for sharing this perspective. Representation is so important for our littles and I certainly want them to know how beautiful they are, in addition to smart and kind! I’ll be looking into those books you mentioned for sure. Just a thought for your little Juniper: Little Einsteins has a character named June, an Asian girl who loves all forms of dance. My son has loved this show since he was a baby and now my daughter likes it too. Maybe your Juni will enjoy seeing someone like her onscreen, too.

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