Joanna Gaines Admits She Was Teased for Being Asian in School: 'I Masked My Insecurity'
"When you’re that age you don’t know really how to process that; the way you take that is, ‘Who I am isn’t good enough.’” the expecting mom says
Joanna Gaines may be the picture of a confident wife, mom, business owner and television star now, but the Fixer Upper host used to see herself in a very different light.
“I don’t think confidence has ever really been one of those things that came naturally for me,” Gaines, who is expecting her fifth child with husband Chip, told Darling magazine in a 2016 interview for Issue 15, recently released online. “If people thought I was confident, it was really just the way I masked my insecurity, because I didn’t want people to really get to know the real me.”
The designer, 39, continues to reveal that her insecurities stemmed from experiences she had in school.
“If you haven’t heard my story, my mom is full Korean and my dad is Caucasian,” she said. “Kids in kindergarten would make fun of me for being Asian and when you’re that age you don’t know really how to process that; the way you take that is, ‘Who I am isn’t good enough.’”
Her discomfort reached its peak, though, after moving to a town in Texas and joining a new, much larger, school.
“In the lunchroom everyone was a blur and I was thinking, ‘How do people do this? How do you find that one person to sit with?’” she said. “So I literally walked in the lunchroom and walked out and went into the bathroom. My fear and my insecurities just took over and I felt like I’d way rather sit in the stall than get rejected.”
After her family moved again — this time to her current hometown of Waco, Texas — the close-knit environment allowed her to feel at ease with herself, after which, “It was easy to make friends there.”
Her sense of self continued to strengthen, but it was once again tested during her last semester of college, which she spent in New York City.
“I was by myself again where it was just me in a big city, and I remember that came back up again — just the thought of, ‘Am I good enough?’” she recalled. “For six months I wrestled with my identity and the themes of, ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What’s my purpose?’… and I kept remembering that time in the bathroom.”
Her reflections led to what she now considers her real passion: “I discovered that my purpose was to help people who are insecure because I didn’t like the way it made me feel, in that stall; that’s not who I am,” she said. “So while I was in New York I really felt like God was telling me that I would be able to help women who weren’t confident, who were looking for guidance or who were lonely.”
For Joanna, that ranges from helping homeowners build their dream house to simply finding little ways to tackle everyday tasks through her magazine, books and product lines. But she also embodies her mission by passing along the message to her four children, Drake, 12, Ella, 11, Duke, 9, and Emmie Kay, 7.
“I always tell my kids to look for that kid on the playground who’s not playing with anybody, to go reach out, ask them their name, to look for the kid in the lunchroom who isn’t sitting by anybody, be their friend,” she says. “That experience grounded me in that I want to look for the lonely, the sad, the people who aren’t confident, because that’s not where they’re supposed to stay.”
For more details, visit Darling.