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As a toddler, days at Grandma’s house were a colorless blur of television and snacks–that is, until naptime. Once the clock struck noon, I scuttled promptly into my aunt’s room and jumped under the covers, eyes screwed tightly shut in semblance of slumber until I heard my grandma’s footsteps walking away from the door. Then, the mission began.
1. Pull back covers.
2. Creep out of bed.
3. Tiptoe stealthily to my aunt’s drawers full of makeup.
For that glorious hour, I would smear myself in lipsticks and eyeshadows so bright they left stains even after a shower. When time was up, I tried my best to cover my tracks–once in awhile, though, a drawer was left ajar in a tell-tale sign of my presence. Those naptimes are the root of my love for makeup today.
Eventually, I began purchasing my own cosmetics, and Fridays became what naptime once was–not party nights, but evenings for crafting avant-garde makeup looks, discovering new color combinations and placements onto my eyelids, and blending products into seamless gradients. I treasure the time spent losing myself in the therapeutic repetition of product application–an escape from the stress of unadulterated academia.
With the limited availability of makeup for women of deeper skin tones, most of us are essentially barred from expressing ourselves through this medium–which, come special-occasion season, is a problem. Everyone deserves to feel beautiful on their special day; skin tone should not interfere. It became my mission to combat outdated, Eurocentric beauty ideals by catering my makeup artistry toward women of color.
Once prom season came around, I found myself flooded with requests from similarly darker-skinned girls to do their makeup. The reason? Other amateur makeup artists tend not to carry products suitable for deeper skin-tones due to their limited availability in the market. I, as one of the few tan makeup enthusiasts in my school, became one of the only options–the only one with the materials for the job. There is a shortage of women of color in this industry and this is where I thrive.
Applying conventional appeals to beauty on a new canvas and watching my clients beam with newfound confidence is my favorite aspect of my business. Makeup artistry is not simply a vanity-driven hobby; for me, it offers a creative outlet while simultaneously allowing me to address and rectify the effects of discrimination against people like me.
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