Chrissy Teigen is a model turned best-selling cookbook author, wife, mother, and social media maven. She is known for her witty comments and comebacks on Twitter, but also for her recipes, which have become seriously popular. Aside from a successful career of her own, she’s also the wife of musician John Legend. For these reasons (and more), Teigen finds herself in the spotlight quite a bit.
All of that said, many people often find themselves wondering what Teigen’s nationality is. Her exotic look doesn’t give too much away, as Teigen is actually a mix.
Here’s what you need to know:
Teigen’s Mom Is Thai & Her Dad Is German & Norwegian
Teigen’s mom, Vilailuck, was born and raised in Thailand. She moved to the U.S. years ago but just became an American citizen this year. In October, Teigen shared a heartwarming video of her mom reciting the Pledge of Allegiance while holding her granddaughter, Luna. You can see that video here.
Teigen’s dad, Ron Teigen Sr., is of German and Norwegian descent. Vilailuck lives with her daughter and her family while her husband, Teigen’s dad, lives down the street.
Teigen says that she identifies more with her Thai side, which is why she often represents Asian-Americans in the media.
“I hope I can do more. So many movies come out where they’re putting people who have no Asian background at all in roles, and it’s frustrating because you know that there is so much talent out there. I think it’s really important to feature Asian-Americans. We’re so underrepresented in every single aspect of the entertainment industry, and I think our turn will come, and it’s going to be fantastic,” she told StyleCaster back in April, according to SheKnows.
Teigen Used to Be Embarrassed About Her Ethnicity
Teigen is quite the foodie — a trait that she inherited from her mom — and she learned a lot about her Thai heritage through food. Teigen learned fairly quickly that her Thai roots were different from other cultures and even admits to being embarrassed at times because of it.
“My dad is a big white guy. We ate very meat and potatoes, cabbage and meat. Whenever my mom cooked, she hid it because I would make fun of the smell. I remember being really embarrassed by it when I was young and had friends over. It was weird to pull shrimp heads off and discard the body and eat the head. There were moments when as a kid you cringe,” she told StyleCaster.
But Teigen’s struggle with her cultural identity went far beyond food.
“I remember feeling confused when I grew up, filling out the forms on those standardized tests. I was like, ‘Am I Pacific Islander? What am I? I don’t even know!’ And then there was ‘Other.’ But I always said ‘Asian’ for some wild reason, even though it’s a perfect 50/50. Still, I remember the biggest question growing up was, ‘What are you? What are you? What are you?’ And you’re like, ‘Oh, my God.’ I worry sometimes that Luna is going to be so much in the middle that she’s not going to know, but I think by the time she grows up, it’s such a melting pot, this whole world now,” she told the outlet.
Teigen Wants More Asian Models Represented in the Fashion Industry
As a model, Teigen knows all about the struggles of being a mixed-race woman working in the fashion industry.
“I think it’s really important to start embracing people…seeing them in roles that are not necessarily ‘That Asian Girl’ or ‘That Asian Boy.’ I want it to be a normal thing to be able to see Asian models, and I think Asian models are really underrepresented in the industry, especially on the runways or in magazines,” she told E! News in 2017.
“I personally am not offended by cultural appropriation of any sort because I feel like it does pay homage, but at the same time there are a lot of beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, Asian women that could do the same thing,” she added.