I immigrated to the United States at 12 years old. Despite growing up in Monterrey, MX, a highly-Americanized, Mexican metropolis, my English was far from perfect. I knew how to move around and hold a basic conversation, but I always ran the risk of butchering a word or forgetting to conjugate another. The people around me weren’t the most patient or understanding. They’d widen their eyes at the remnants of my accent or mock my improper grammar, almost as if my attempts weren’t good enough. I’d always heard that the only way to learn a language was to move to a country where they spoke it, and while I’d already done that, the initial experiences that came with my efforts triggered my insecurities – so, I turned to the internet.
While there were thousands of highly-rated, academic resources online, I got my English lessons from an unusual corner of the internet: hair and makeup video tutorials. With my teenage years just around the corner, I saw this as the perfect opportunity to not only tackle casual English conversation, but also master a frizz-free blowout. The men and women on my phone screen were patient and always available. If I needed help vanishing a pimple overnight, they’d give me an array of easy solutions. But, most of the time, they’d correctly pronounce a word I’d been too shy to ask about and too nervous to say out loud.
As time went on, I found myself relying on beauty tutorials for English purposes less and less. My self-confidence had grown dramatically and I flaunted that in everyday conversations. Still, my video tutorial consumption never diminished. I still needed help solidifying both my beauty and skin care routines. It felt as if I had somewhat “flown the nest,” but similar to a parent-figure, I knew I still had the linguistic support of the online beauty community. Sure, I no longer struggled with basic conjunctions, but I still needed tips on achieving the perfect sleek ponytail.
It sounds a bit funny, but I wouldn’t have my career if it wasn’t for online beauty tutorials. I am currently a copywriter with an extensive list of freelance articles under my belt – all from English-written publications. There are times where I still mispronounce words in fast, casual conversation, but I’m no longer ashamed of it. At the end of the day, I’m aware of my “mistakes,” but most importantly, these hiccups trace back to my mother tongue and my ethnicity – and I wouldn’t trade those for the world.