Sephora Canada has launched its fifth iteration of its Lunar New Year Campaign to celebrate the Year of the Ox.
This year, the beauty brand is not only offering an assortment of limited-edition beauty goods and custom Lunar New year gift cards and promo offers, but has also tapped two Asian Canadian influencers as its stars: Brigitte Truong and Angel Zheng.
Both Truong and Zheng have been featured on Sephora Canada’s social media channels on the days and weeks leading up to Lunar New Year (which kicks off on February 12, 2021) sharing what Lunar New Year means to them and how they’ll celebrate amidst the COVID-19 pandemic where gatherings may not be possible.
Truong is also be featured in campaign imagery, alongside her mother, both online and in select stores.
“It still doesn’t feel real to me that my mom and I are part of this campaign,” Truong, who’s based in Toronto, tells The RepresentASIAN Project. “It means so much to have our traditions and values showcased on this scale by a respected brand like Sephora Canada. As an only child to immigrant parents, there’s a level of responsibility to make them proud and to pass on all the cultural traditions, if and when I do have children of my own.
“This is not only an incredible memory we’ll have for the rest of our lives but also an invaluable experience that I can share with my kids and generations to come. I hope that others in our community celebrating Lunar New Year see this campaign as a massive step forward in representation, and that they are inspired by the world of possibilities that it represents for all of us.”
The impact of being featured in a national campaign is not lost on Truong and Zheng, who both say they grew up not seeing people who looked like them represented in mainstream media.
“The only Asian representation I saw in mainstream media was in Bruce Lee flicks or Jackie Chan movies where every actor was dubbed with exaggerated accents,” says Truong. “I think this contributed to my teenage angst and lack of confidence. Seeing diversity celebrated on large platforms will allow future generations to relate, and in turn, have faith and confidence in who they are and who they can become. I think we have a long way to go, but with annual campaigns like this, and with more and more studios producing Asian-centric stories with Asian actors, I think we’re working towards expanding our reach and our voices.”
Zheng, who is based in Vancouver, says although Asian representation was scarce when she was a child, she believes social media has helped amplify Asian voices and stories.
“With social media becoming such a large part of the content we consume and a popular source of media, it’s amazing to see so many Asian influencers and role models who can represent, showcase and celebrate our culture in such beautiful ways,” she says. “It’s also wonderful to see big companies like Sephora honouring our culture, and I think it’s pushing the younger generations to be proud of their own cultures and traditions. The representation of Asian cultures (beyond just Chinese culture and celebrations) is so much more prevalent in today’s Western landscape and it has been impactful to witness the growth and acceptance that has developed over the years.”
As for Truong and Zheng’s favourite Lunar New Year traditions? Zheng enjoys creating her own Lunar New Year decor — something her grandmother taught her as a child — as well as enjoying sweet Chinese treats.
“[ 剪纸 (traditional papercutting)] was always a really fun and creative way to spend time with [my grandma] and my little sister,” Zheng explains. “[And] being a big food person, I’ve always loved all the treats that my family prepares for the holidays—rice cakes, sesame balls, dumplings, noodles and tang yuan (glutinous rice balls with sweet filling).”
Truong’s favourite ways to celebrate also include childhood traditions, along with some reimagined rituals.
“I remember [having] the BEST Lunar New Year dinners at [my late, paternal grandmother’s] table. She’d always have the freshest fruit out for deities and ancestors who have passed on. It’s not the fresh fruit or special holiday food that I miss, but the values and honour encapsulated in those moments,” says Truong. “Today, my favourite traditions have to be the annual visit to the temple with my parents, and the exchanging of lucky money and lucky red lipstick between my mom and I. Giving a ‘lucky red lipstick’ is not traditional in our culture by any means, but, hey, it never hurts to reimagine what traditions look like!”