women working, a member of my tribe?


Ethnic beauty, diversity, different definitions of beauty—concepts that are dear to me. I’ve written about the feeling of sisterhood that I experience when I see women who look like they come from my tribe. 

I saw this woman out of the corner of my eye, tending bar in a local restaurant. She caught my eye, well, because I’m always alert to #womenworking, and I was once a bartender; but there were other reasons this woman in particular drew my attention. She’s beautiful, yes; she was doing her work in a steady and highly competent manner, yes; but there was something else.

I didn’t immediately realize what it was, but I knew I needed to speak with her, and as soon as I did it became obvious. She’s Polish, and Latvia, the place I come from, the place whose “face” I wear, shares a border with Poland. We were sisters. 

At this time, it’s not always cool to identify people by how they look.

I understand that, but I also believe that different types of beauty need to be acknowledged. I’m a member of a tribe, and that membership, and pride, has taught me to respect and appreciate the beauty of other tribes. How do you feel about your tribe identity and how does that affect your idea of beauty?




  • Haralee says:

    There is no doubt a kinship to someone you see who looks like you. I saw a picture of women from Estonia before the iron curtain, and I saw my face but more of my Mother and Grandmother who was from Estonia. They were all smiling with heart shaped faces and dark curly wavy hair, they were my tribe!

  • Even if we all wore the same uniform each day, our differences and those things that make us unique would stand out. It’s okay to notice and comment on them. I know another woman in NYC who’s Latvian. She used to be a model and the eye is immediately drawn to her face BECAUSE she doesn’t look like everyone else. From my perspective, this woman and the one in your photograph and you are far more beautiful than the classic “All American Blonde.” xoxo, Brenda

    • Anita Irlen says:


      What a nice thing to say. Thank you! I know the same model, she’s just plain striking isn’t she? The funny thing is, the two of us, she and I have discussed the fact that neither one of us looks like we are “supposed” to. Latvian women are supposed to be tall, blonde, and fair skinned. So much for that. Always appreciate your comments. xxx

  • There are a variety of reasons why we tend to call one face beautiful and another not, familiarity being a big one. Which explains what you saw.

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