Meet The Inspiration - Jessie Gurunahtan
Many of you will be familiar with the lovely Jessie Guru - a familar face both on and off our television screen - actress, model, presenter & journalist . Jessie's current focus is on her lifestyle website jessieguru.com showcasing her love of storytelling, travel and wellbeing.
A self confessed Coola fan girl according to her instagram @jessie_guru
we managed to track her down in Bali to chat to us.
Has your skincare regime changed over the years with your extensive travel?
YES! Big time! When I was in my twenties I was so slack. Both the constant travel and getting older were the two contributing factors in regards to how I take care of my skin now.
I wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self to never go to sleep without removing my make up, that just because I'm brown it doesn't mean I don't need to wear sunscreen and drink more bloody water!!
It wasn't until my thirties that I begun taking better care of my skin, investing in active skincare and wearing sunscreen.
Whilst living in Japan I picked up a lot of good tips and tricks. Japanese women treat their skincare routine like a full on self care ritual. They make real time at morning and night to look after their skin and not just topically either. They are obsessed with collagen supplements for beautiful skin too and use sunscreen religiously.
Because I travel so much I also like multi purpose products that don't over complicate things like the COOLA Make Up Setting Spray and COOLA Sun Silk Drops which I often wear on my own as a day time moisturiser or as a primer underneath my make up. This product is a beautiful moisturiser with active ingredients like hyaluronic acid and provides digital and environmental protection. It ticks a lot of boxes.
We all know travel can take a toll on your skin – what is your “must have” product when you’re travelling?
Face masks! I am sheet mask obsessed. I love products that are multi purpose.
What elements of your Malaysian background have you adopted into your skin care regime?
Two words, turmeric & coconut.
Something I always grew up being covered in by my South Indian Malaysian grandmother was coconut oil. When I say covered I'm not exaggerating! Indians have long been aware of the many benefits of coconuts as a food source as well as for it's health & beauty benefits.
Coconut oil is amazing for soothing damaged skin, is incredibly nourishing when you have particularly dry skin and I also use it as a hair mask.
Turmeric in Ayurveda is considered a sort of magic herb. Its good for so many internal and external ailments and again, this is something I have grown up using in my everyday life and think its awesome the western world have caught on to this natural miracle. There's a certain type of turmeric that is especially good to use for any DIY beauty products called Kasturi turmeric (curcuma aromatica) because it's non staining
You talk a lot about embracing your mixed culture and how it took you a long time to accept your own skin. Tell us a bit more about this.
I am lucky to have parents from two very different cultural backgrounds that have both exposed me to so many different customs & traditions, rituals, celebrations and just all round ways of life. It has helped me to see the world in a much more open minded way & it's helped me relate to others on a much deeper level as a result. BUT, I wasn't always grateful nor was I proud of my mixed heritage.
I grew up on a little tropical island in Malaysia called Penang where a majority of people looked like me, my European kiwi mum with her pale skin on the other hand was in the minority. That was my normal until we moved to New Zealand when I was nearly 12 and all of a sudden I found myself in a small coastal town 45 mins outside of Wellington at a new school where my brother and I were the only brown kids in school basically.
It was a culture shock in every sense of the word. Kids can be cruel at that age and I quickly learnt that my skin colour, my accent, my mannerisms were considered weird and different and I was both verbally and physically bullied pretty much every day. I was ashamed and desperately wanted to just be accepted and to fit in. It took me a long time to learn that my differences were actually one of my greatest assets, that my culture, my heritage, my mixed race up bringing made me different in a good way. It set me apart, made me feel special and like I had something unique to offer. A unique perspective.
As an adult I feel like all the bullying, racial prejudice and discrimination I've experienced has also given me a level of compassion and empathy that helps me to help others. I am grateful for all the experiences that have shaped me. I know who I am and I'm proud to be a kiwi WOC who is able to have this social platform where I am able to use my voice and experience to facilitate and encourage important conversations around racism, cultural sensitivity and awareness.
You’ve spoken a lot about how you’re trying to combat your endometriosis the natural way – what does this mean and how has it helped you thus far?
I wasn't diagnosed with endometriosis properly until I was 18 years old and had my first laparoscopic surgery but I remember from my very first period at 13 years old that I wasn't like other girls. The pain was immense, crippling and I spent a lot of my teens in absolute agony, bed ridden, fainting and just feeling so ashamed that I couldn't "handle" my periods like every other woman. I had two more surgeries to remove severe endometriosis. I was riddled with it, all over my bowels, bladder, rib cage and places that it's not commonly found. It's a horrible chronic illness and there is no cure for it.
The turning point for me was after my last surgery I finally understood & accepted that my relationship with my body needed to change. I needed to be kind to myself, to stop the self loathing, the shame and denial. I had one body and I needed to love it. I began to take a holistic approach, started to research and read everything I could get my hands on. I needed to educate myself and no longer just leave my fate in the hands of doctors and surgeons.
It was my body and I needed to learn to pay attention to the signs, listen to what it was saying and take responsibility for my health and well being. This mindset was a game changer for me and it's helped me learn how to live more harmoniously with my body. I no longer have this love/hate relationship with my body where I was hard on myself and not at all accountable for my health.
It's weird but in a way, endometriosis changed me for the better. When other young people around me were busy taking their clean bill of health for granted I was forced to learn some pretty valuable lessons about my body, the way to really respect, nurture and take care of it so now in my thirties I sort of feel like I'm heading into this next chapter of my life with a slight edge and advantage. Knowledge is power.
Your partner Adam had a long stint in a Japanese hospital while you were based there – how has this changed your perspective on health and what changes have you put in place since this experience?
It changed a lot for both Adam and I. We were living a pretty jet set lifestyle and things were very instant, very fast paced - especially living in Tokyo for as long as we had. We were used to kind of just rushing through life and looking back now I can see we sort of moved through life in a way that didn't allow for much opportunity to be truly present and in the moment. We were always too preoccupied with worrying about the next plan of attack, the next thing on the list so to speak.
After those months in hospital in Japan where Adam literally lost his ability to walk we were forced to slow right down because we had no other choice. All of a sudden we were both celebrating Adam being able to walk to the toilet by himself. It was humbling. Since then it's been a challenging time both as a couple and as individuals but also a time of tremendous growth. I think we both have come out changed for the better. So many things we used to place a lot of value in don't hold as much value anymore. Time is now something we no longer take for granted.
We have deliberately slowed right down, simplified our lives and material wealth and possessions no longer hold the same weight. We appreciate quality time with each other and loved ones a lot more and make it a priority to create space for more meaningful encounters with others. Our health and the health of loved ones is absolute number one and that's now non negotiable. We chose to move to Bali to deliberately live a more slow paced lifestyle, to eliminate a lot of unnecessary financial and social pressures and the move has been amazing for our health and for our relationship.
People often say "oh you guys are so lucky living in Bali" and that bugs me a little because luck has nothing to do with it. We made a decision to re prioritize and gave up things like a permanent and stable home base, being close to family, better financial opportunities in exchange for the lifestyle we are currently living. We are happy, healthy and living with passion and purpose. It was a conscious decision and one that had absolutely nothing to do with luck.
Without sounding too deep - What is it you want out of life, what mark do you want to leave?
I swear as a woman I feel like nobody ever told me how great it is getting older. I honestly feel like I am only just coming into my own in my thirties and I love the way I am continuing to feel more self aware, self accepting and comfortable in my own skin. I spent way too much of my twenties silenced and consumed with a need to feel liked, accepted and making others happy at the expense of my own happiness. Now I've found my voice and I am not afraid to speak up even if sometimes it might mean that some people won't like me or what I have to say.
I feel incredibly fortunate to have this presence on social media that gives me this platform where I'm able to connect with others who may be struggling with their own mental health, their identity as a POC, their bodies, fertility, etc. I feel like through sharing my personal struggles, lessons, discoveries and life hacks around these subjects I'm able to help others maybe avoid going down the same loooong roads I have traveled on in order to find peace, fulfillment and happiness.
I would love to think that by being willing to be vulnerable and open with others I can help them get to where they need to go in life with way less hardship and struggle by giving them the tools that I never had access to at the time. I want to build a lifestyle "brand" as such that is all about living more consciously and compassionately and getting others on board with the concept of being less self serving and more community minded, caring about how we can help support each other to be better not just for ourselves but for for one another.
Call me romantic or idealistic but I really do believe that now more than ever people are crying out to live more authentic and purpose driven lives and as someone with a social platform I feel obligated to use my "influence" in a way that contributes to this narrative.