Speaking to Women’s Health for their June cover, the 34-year-old opened up about how she plans to teach her daughter about racism amid the rise in anti-Asian violence since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
“[Racism is] something my mom has dealt with her whole life,” said Shay, whose mother is Filipino. “When she and my dad were dating in the 1980s in Toronto, their relationship was looked down upon.”
“On the bus with my dad, she would get the worst looks,” she recalled. “They would tell me about going into a restaurant and people not serving them.”
“I also saw it in real life,” the Pretty Little Liars star went on. “My mom would get derogatory remarks like, ‘Are you the cleaning lady? Are you the nanny?’ And she was like, ‘No, but what is your issue if I was?'”
Shay also said she experienced racist bullying at school, where other kids would ask if she was “going to go clean the bathrooms.”
Shay said it’s something she and her partner, Matte Babel, are conscious about when it comes to raising Atlas.
“Matte is half white — his dad is from Trinidad,” Shay explained. “And Atlas is a mix of all of us. But she’s very fair-skinned and has light eyes and hair, so she doesn’t look like either of us.”
“We’re learning how to have those appropriate conversations,” she said. “It starts with her dolls, with the toys she plays with, and the books we read to her, that have all different colors and ethnicities.”
To celebrate Atlas’s birthday last October, Shay shared a video to her YouTube channel documenting the ups and downs of her first year as a mom.
The video captures Atlas’s milestones and biggest moments — but in it, Shay also talks about the difficulties of sleep training, and her experiences with mom-shaming.
“I’d say the first few months were definitely the hardest,” she said at the time. “And as a new mom, there was a lot of judgment in the beginning.”
Read Shay Mitchell’s Women’s Health cover story in full here.
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