Zoe Saldana: Growing up in the DR, they told me I was too skinny.
Actress and dancer Zoe Saldana best known for her roles in “Colombiana”, “Avatar” and the “Star Trek” franchise films opens up about growing up in a multicultural home and how it has molded her into who she is. Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New York City, taught Zoe to accept her natural beauty. Peep the excerpts below.
On growing up in a multicultural home:
There are so many advantages growing up in a multicultural home, but there are also disadvantages. I know that a lot of people who grow up in multicultural homes can sometimes feel a little divided, like they’re in between two different worlds, and they don’t know how to be.
I think that you have to embrace where you’re at and take the best out of every world that you’re a part of. You can’t feel that you’re letting someone down or letting your community down. America is a melting pot of beautiful cultures, and I think it’s great to honor the people who come here and start their families. But I also think those people should honor the children that they’re having here and allow them to be American. My mom was great at doing that. After we moved back to America when I was a teenager, she never made us feel that we had to be Dominican in order for us to be okay; but she also never deprived us of her Dominican heritage in order for us to be ‘full Americans.’ She always let us know that there are bonuses to being multicultural because it just means that you have more ways of finding yourself.
On the different beauty standards in America and Dominican Republic:
The beauty standards are so different. When I was in the Dominican Republic, I was too skinny. Because there, women are more accepted as full and curvaceous. I felt pressure to look that way. People would say, ‘Eat more; you’re too skinny,’ or they would pressure my mom and say, ‘She’s sick; she’s sick. Look how skinny she is.’ But my mom was always like, ‘Let her be. Let her be her own person.’ But I do like that I was exposed to that kind of beauty, because then coming back to New York, and choosing a career in ballet and then acting, those standards are drastically different. They’re also very imbalanced. But both of these standards shaped my approach to beauty.
In the Dominican Republic, women were accepting of their curves and shapes and the color of their skin and the texture of their hair. So by the time I was a young adult in America and I was encouraged to modify myself in ways that I didn’t feel comfortable with, I had that to fall back on.
On the importance of being healthy and “dieting” vs. “lifestyle”:
Nutrition is super important in my life. It always has been. These days, I’m really heavy into having a green juice in the morning because it’s hard for me to have a balanced meal sometimes as a working mom. I’m a professional; I’m working all the time. I want to make sure that I get my greens in, so I do that every day, and it helps me a great deal. But I try to be balanced. I don’t like hearing, ‘Oh, I’m doing this diet, or I’m doing that diet.’ I like when people use words like ‘my lifestyle.’
When we use the word ‘diet,’ we’re preparing ourselves for a big sacrifice that we know, the older we get, we’re going to be too weak to fulfill. We just end up crashing and defeating ourselves. So I like telling myself that I’m not doing a diet, that this is my lifestyle, and I’m choosing to have a balanced meal. I don’t like having zero carbs or all protein. I like getting all the nutrition that my body needs so that it can heal itself naturally.