IN HER SKIN: Yendi Phillipps

By Shanique Palmer

Monday, November 30, 2015

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This is part one of a feature In Her Skin, which will have Jamaican women sharing their philosophies on beauty, and revealing some of their own beauty secrets and practices. We start with Yendi Phillipps.


EVERY year, a beautiful, confident young woman is selected for the coveted title of Miss Jamaica after being meticulously assessed by a panel of judges on her elegance, poise and grace. Yendi Phillipps was all that and more when she was chosen as Miss Jamaica World 2007 and Miss Jamaica Universe 2010, and then coming just a few points shy of winning the Miss Universe competition a short while later.

It's lunchtime in Kingston, and Phillipps saunters gracefully into Cannonball Café to chat with All Woman.

She turns diners' heads, probably unknowingly commanding attention in the usually quiet and unbothered Sovereign North eatery.

The 5ft 10in beauty recently celebrated her 30th birthday with close friends and colleagues at the trendy Santorini Skylounge at OPA Greek Restaurant and Lounge after completing a 14-country worldwide tour for the self-fulfilling objective of visiting 30 international cities before age 30.

Fresh-faced, she says, "Beauty for me is a lot more holistic. It's being in alignment and at peace with oneself. It's so much more than having on a stitch of make-up to go out."

She says when one's spirituality is where it needs to be, and when you're physically where you need to be, there is an energy -- something that radiates from you that people just cannot resist.

Phillipps confesses to never being too worried about her appearance while opting for a natural, fuss-free day-to-day look. In fact, many will be surprised to know that most of the time she's actually not the dolled-up version of herself that we're used to seeing during her Smile Jamaica morning show and Digicel Rising Stars stints on TVJ, in addition to the pageant glam that we synonymously identify her with.

"I wear make-up when I have work," she says.

This contrasts sharply with the beauty standards that she grew up around as a child. In the nineties, it was all about the glam.

"I think today we're quite back to where it was when I was a child," she reminisces. "It was all about the big hair, when your hair just came out of rollers looking big, nice and fluffy. It was the heavy make-up -- lipstick was di lick. And high-waisted pants where the waistline fell right into your waist so it was very accentuated."

And which style-savvy woman today wouldn't agree? Testament to this is the content on the numerous hair, make-up and fashion blogs that exist, Instagram profiles with women only posting their best-looking, filter-edited photos, and hashtags reading #iwokeuplikethis and #onfleek. Worthy of mention is also the booming hair weave industry that Jamaican women have heavily invested in, which as of 2013 was projected to hit over $1billion in imports to the island.

Now, with the advent of social media, one can easily see what the current standards of beauty are in the world. Phillipps does acknowledge, however, that this adds to the pressure on women to always be perfectly polished.

"I think for a lot of youngsters it creates a false sense of what it is to be a woman," she says.

She admits that the hardest lesson she's had to learn was embracing her own beauty by learning to love herself and being comfortable in her skin.

"It was extremely hard. I was very insecure growing up. I was teased severely about my breasts in high school. I got ridiculed so badly for it... I'd even go to castings and people would love me but then they'd say, 'You don't have enough breasts for the shoot'."

Entering into pageantry subjected her to even more scrutiny. Being judged on one's appearance while among at least 80 of the world's most beautiful women can easily take its toll. Now combine that with being under the general public's watchful eye. For the weak, this can prove disastrous for one's self-esteem.

A long way since those days, however, the mother of one has no problem getting booked for public appearances based on her image and the brand that she's built. She has long been a Digicel ambassador, whose most recent gigs featured her hosting a free dance fitness class for the public at Emancipation Park ahead of the company's annual 5K, and she dazzled as LehwegoSleek's section leader in Barbados' Xhosa mas band for this year's Cropover.

Big on wellness, Phillipps maintains an active lifestyle by including yoga, dance, running and weight training as part of her fitness regimen. For professional ventures, however, she says, "Depending on what's coming up, I might do a little more of something. If South Africa calls for me to model, I will run more to be leaner. If carnival is coming up, I will pump more iron. It's definitely relative to what's going on."

While acknowledging that beauty isn't just skin-deep, which happens to be the public's usual perception of the seemingly fickle pageant world that Phillipps is all too familiar with, she emphasises that women should embrace their own physical being.

"Uniqueness is a gift and there is no reason to let go of your uniqueness to fit into society or whatever is the popular thing of the moment. There is a reason we're each unique and you have to hold on to that uniqueness that makes you you."

Current favourite scent:

Infusion D'Iris by Prada

Can't-do-without beauty regimen products:

I have natural hair, so I'm big on coconut products for the hair. I also make my own concoctions to treat my hair.

For lips and cuticles:

I use Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream.


When I do wear make-up, I use MAC products.

Maintenance routines:

I use Crest Whitestrips once every three months and I try to do monthly facials at The Face Place. I also use a locally made moisturiser from The Face Place.

Do you maintain a particular diet that promotes your beauty philosophy?

I eat a lot of things in moderation and I'll have four to five meals a day so my metabolism moves faster. I'm trying to consume less gluten. It's a little difficult here, but the health food stores have gluten-free pastas and breads. In general, I don't eat a lot of fried foods and I do a lot of home cooking. And I hardly eat rice. I'm not a big 'starcher'.

Everyday go-to closet item:

I'm a sucker for a romper. It's perfect for Jamaica and it's easy to go in. No bagga matching up to do. It's light and perfect for our climate.

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