As I put on pink jumpsuit for my first day of work at Glossier’s Boston pop up, I felt a little nervous. Had I paid enough attention during training? Would I get along with my coworkers? And most importantly, as a woman living with vitiligo – would people stare?
Glossier, a skincare cosmetics brand, has grown into a billion-dollar beauty company since launching in 2014. Well known for creative advertising and dewy, natural make up looks, Glossier’s products are designed to make you feel like you. Their employees – called offline beauty editors – are there to help customers curate custom looks and are be a knowledgeable and supportive resource. That’s because every day, real women walk into the store – women with scars, birth marks, moles, and just like me, vitiligo.
My relationship with my skin has had its highs and lows. There have been times where I rock my vitiligo with confidence, and others when my deepest wish was to just look “normal.” I’ve often wished I could just blend in. When Winnie Harlow burst onto the modeling scene around 2014, my confidence soared. Seeing a black woman my age with vitiligo was incredibly inspiring. Yet several more years of questions and stares from strangers, along with spots that changed year to year, left me feeling insecure once again.
While working at Glossier, I met a lovely bride who was getting married in two weeks. She also had vitiligo and was looking for makeup for her wedding – but did not want to cover her spots. I spent the better part of an hour chatting with her, testing sheer foundations and trying on lip colors. I met a mother who gathered her daughter’s hair so she could show me a patch of white in the back. I met a woman who pointed to her ankle so we could compare patches of white. I met a woman with vitiligo who didn’t want to talk, but just sent a hesitant, knowing smile my way.
Each time I met someone it was like meeting a friend – someone with whom you had something fundamental in common. Without knowing each other, I knew they were glad to see me – excited even – and the feeling was mutual. It was the same feeling I got when I saw Winnie Harlow in a Sprite ad, or Amy Deanna in a CoverGirl ad or other models with vitiligo in ads for Dove, Macys’ and Aerie. It’s a feeling of knowing that you’re not just welcome and accepted but celebrated for your differences. A feeling that I was included, and beauty products were for me – not to cover up but to enhance my beauty like everyone else.
There have been so many times when I walked into a cosmetics or department store and felt like I didn’t belong because of my vitiligo. I would be offered options for covering my spots or feel insecure about eyeshadows because of my two-toned eyelids. I felt as though makeup wasn’t for me, not because I didn’t like it, but because nothing suited my skin and I never saw anyone who looked like me.
Standing in Glossier in my pink jumpsuit, I had the power to make sure no woman walking into the store would ever feel that way. In turn, seeing these beautiful women experimenting and playing with highlighters and multicolored eyeliners, sharing their stories, and being excited to shop, made me more confident too.
Makalah Moore is a writer based in Massachusetts who has lived with vitiligo for sixteen years. In her free time she enjoys reading, photography and spending time with friends and family. Find her on instagram @the.moore.you.know.