Perspectives Interview

In a space where professional etiquette meets creativity, there is a layered conversation to be had around the meaning, qualities and expectations of beauty. As part of a series, we sat down with A+E Networks® employees to get their take. — Taryn Mahoney for Perspectives

Marissa Pina, Social Media Producer, Lifetime® + Lifetime Movies

Instagram | Twitter | LinkedIn | Facebook

collection of portraits of Marissa

What does “beauty” mean to you?

Since I am a photographer and videographer, beauty is something I often work with. For me, when I think about what beauty means, it’s more than what can be seen with the eye. It’s in your personality, the way you treat others, the way you carry yourself and the way you express yourself. I feel most beautiful when I am the most myself, when I honor the way I feel and the way I want to look.

Has your understanding of beauty evolved? 

When I was younger, I was constantly looking at others and thinking,“Wow they’re so beautiful. I wish I could be like them.” And now I’ve learned to really honor myself and stand in my truth. I still appreciate others’ beauty, but I also appreciate my own.

Do you have any specific qualities, relationships or possessions that you celebrate as beautiful?

My defining feature is my hair. I honestly feel most myself when I let my hair do whatever it wants to do. I struggled for almost my entire life to embrace my natural hair — I was constantly relaxing it, dyeing it, straightening it and trying to conform to a specific beauty standard that my heritage just would never fit. I am biracial, and while, yes, I do have features that might be more Eurocentric than others, there’s no hiding who I am. It took nearly 22 years to live my truth, which was channeled through embracing and learning my hair.

Do you think there are specific expectations of beauty in the professional space in general?

I definitely do think there are certain expectations of beauty in professional spaces. I think there are definitely standards for women, some of which are seen when a woman walks into a professional space without makeup and is asked, “Are you tired? Are you sick?” There is certainly an expectation that we need to be put-together at all times to be taken seriously. I also think there are certain standards that POC face all the time. I think it’s definitely hard to exist in a professional space while embracing and wearing your natural hair. For years, we’re conditioned and told that our natural hair is simply “unprofessional.” Fortunately, I’ve never felt this at A+E Networks, but it’s definitely prevalent in other spaces.

I also think there are certain standards that POC face all the time. I think it’s definitely hard to exist in a professional space while embracing and wearing your natural hair. For years, we’re conditioned and told that our natural hair is simply “unprofessional.”

How has that affected your experience?

I have always felt the pressure to live up to or uphold a standard of “professional” beauty that just does not exist in me. The idea that natural hair is unprofessional has followed me nearly everywhere I’ve gone professionally. For example, whenever I’ve interviewed anywhere, I’ve often been asked if I would straighten my hair for the meeting. Or sometimes in interviews, I’ve been asked how often I would wear my hair natural in the office space. Over time, I’ve learned that I will not minimize myself because I have more to offer than what my hair brings to the table.

portraits of Marissa

Do you incorporate beauty into your role or work at A+E Networks?

Since I work on the social team, I am constantly looking at ways to incorporate all bodies in our content. I pride myself on being inclusive and purposeful in all the work that I do, because it’s essential to represent ALL of those who look at us every single day. There is no greater joy than feeling heard, feeling seen.

These conversations have been condensed and edited for clarity.