- Edition 9, Chapter 6 -
by Alexander Brebner
Many of us are first-generation Americans, but not so many of us have tragic reasons for being born here. Danica’s parents migrated to the US from Cambodia before she was born, escaping from the genocide during which two million people were killed, including everyone but a few in their family.
“Who I am stems from a situation before my time, and has had an impact for generations,” Danica says. Her parents met through a matchmaking elder, fell in love, married, and settled in the Northwest, where they still live. “Mom became a social worker, and dad an accountant; they had their ups and downs, but they did it – raised three children who are all well-educated with good jobs and who give back to their communities.”
Danica went to The University of Washington where she was elected student body president, her first foray into politics. “I met the governor and saw local politicians, and as an individual from humble beginnings I wanted to make a difference in my community,” she says. She became a legislative aide, went to law school at Cornell, and is now a campaign finance lawyer encouraging everyday people to run for office with the support of public funds and matching campaign contributions from the Campaign Finance Board of New York City.
With the birth of her first child, Danica admires her parents even more: “It’s so hard to be a parent, even with resources, to find the inner strength to provide for a family. I never felt I lacked anything, and despite what my parents lived through, they found joy and love in their life; they didn’t dwell in negativity. My mom is very blunt. When I’d come home and complain about teenage things, she’d say, ‘Well, at least it isn’t genocide.’”
Danica’s name means ‘morning star,’ and her time in our studio was the first time she’d spent away from her two-month-old boy named Kiran, Sanskrit for ‘ray of light.’ “We’re the antidotes for the darkness. We’re the bright in the night,” she says. “I’m regaining a sense of myself even with the family history raised to the surface – it’s the first time we’ve had three generations.”
Like so many women with demanding careers and young children, Danica wanted a day that could be just about her. “Given what Hairstory stands for – the heart of this place is a focus on individuality, identity – everyone has a different story personified, she says. “I am regaining my emotional footing but physically feel a mess. I look different, and I’m afraid of becoming the stereotypical mom – plain, dowdy, pushing the stroller in the park – that’s not me. I’m taking the time to remember myself, which is also important for my child; me being confident is essential to him becoming a well-rounded, little human being.”
At home, Danica had bought New Wash, but, “I forgot about it as I was organizing for the baby, but started using it a few months ago and loved it. I had to transition because my scalp was normally very oily, and I had to wash my hair every day.” But, she reports, “After a few weeks I didn’t need to wash it as often, and the four products a day – wet creme, mousse, dry shampoo, which I was really into, a constant product cycle – also cost a lot of money, and I slowly weaned myself.”
Danica’s discomfort in her post-pregnancy body and, “clothes not fitting,” made us even more determined to help her feel comfortable. “It’s great to be surrounded by people I’ve just met who are so warm and kind. I have such respect for people who are serious about what they do and engage others in the work,” she says. “And I’m excited to have my hair and makeup done, and treated by pros. Who wouldn’t, pregnancy or not?”