Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Most Heartbreaking Reality About Working in Makeup

Okay so my 30 day writing challenge was a bust, but a big chunk of it was because of this post that I've had on my heart for so long, and the thought about waiting until May to publish it really kept me from writing. Yet it's almost May. Woops. 

So anyway, as I've mentioned before, I work in a makeup store. It's called Gloss, and for those of you who aren't from Australia, think of it as a Sephora-meets-drugstore-brands. It means that you can test basically any product in the store, but the prices are ridiculously affordable. 

& of course, as with most makeup stores, we sell foundation. Sometimes I'll get asked to match a foundation for someone's face and it's actually one of my favorite things to do, because a well-matching foundation can do wonders for someone's overall look. Usually, these women aren't wearing makeup already (or they're wearing very little) so if this is the case, I ask if I can apply one shade to half of their face then we can apply another shade to the other side if it doesn't match perfectly. We also have face wipes handy so that they can wipe the makeup off their faces after. 

Sometimes, I'll match a person and they'll take every suggestion I give them in regards to the foundation, makeup, anything really. It makes me feel good because although I am no professional by any means, it's cool to know that maybe I actually do know a thing or two about makeup. 

However, many times we will also get many women of colour (usually Indian women) where I will match them to the perfect, and I mean PERFECT shade on them (it looks like they're not wearing makeup!) but they don't like it. 

*looks at other foundation colors* "Can we go lighter?" 

*looks at self in the mirror & turns to me while I am smiling at myself in accomplishment* "Ahh, it's too dark!"

It is usually at this time where I'll tell these women my honest opinion & tell them how amazing they look with the foundation & give them my honest opinion about what putting on the lightest shade of foundation (while they are my skin tone or darker) would look like on them. I try to be polite, but still brutally honest in saying that it won't look flattering on them. I then continue to try and encourage them in the way they look with the correct matching foundation. My coworker has even used powder highlighters on customers' faces to show them how these ladies can brighten their faces while still wearing the correct shade of foundation. 

Now look, I know that a woman should be able to look however she wants to look. BUT, if she is using makeup to hide behind it, it isn't healthy at all. Especially if the woman who looks perfectly beautiful & fine in her skin tone is saying, "I want to be whiter/fairer." 

This is a result of colonialism. 

Because in history Europeans have invaded so many countries, many of these people in these places see those with the lighter skin as those with power. They see the treatment that people who are darker get for no reason other than their skin tone, and they want to be lighter. 

In Asia, skin-lightening is a BILLION DOLLAR industry. Like what?! Even my parents have contributed to this industry by buying whitening products for my sister & I when we were younger so we could become lighter. I remember them coming home from the Philippines with whitening soaps, whitening lotions, whitening deodorants, anything you could think of for us to lighten ourselves with. If you look at media in Asia, most celebrities are really pale & with westernized features. Hell, people even get eyelid surgeries so they don't have the defining Asian feature of a monolid. 

& it's really so, so sad. 

So many women all around the world think that their value, their worth, their beauty is less just because of their skin tone. & it really frustrates me & breaks my heart when I come across these kinds of women at work. & it really sucks because many of these women are actually older than the age of 30. You would think it would be younger women but no, it's the older ones. So this mindset is engraved into their brains. 

What can we do about it? 

We are beautiful no matter how we look. Photo cred: Hannah Bernabe
We can start featuring women of colour in media, & a wide range of women (dark and light skinned Asians, dark and light skinned black women, etc). We can start with the younger kids, the younger cousins/nieces/daughters/students that they are beautiful just the way they are. We can start setting the examples ourselves by loving the skin we're in (or learning to do so if we don't already) so that other women can see that it is possible to be confidently beautiful even if you're not as white as a piece of paper. 

I've learned quite a few things while working in the world of makeup, but this, by far, has been the most frustrating & heartbreaking thing that I've realized. I can only hope & pray that someday women won't feel the need to use makeup to hide behind, but rather use it to enhance their natural beauty. 
Chau for now

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