Thanks to social media, we hear more voices and see more diversity being represented than ever before. So you’d think when we envision “beauty,” the images would encompass a wider range than what typically pops up in the mainstream media. And while it’s true that mainstream representation has improved over the years, more often than not, we’re still seeing an army of “perfect” beach-wave hairstyles and “flawless” complexions. And it all leaves us all feeling a little… less than.
So how do we continue to change the vision in our heads? How do we best support diversity and redefine what beauty looks like? To start, we teamed up with Almay, a brand that’s embracing beauty in all forms, and spoke with four women about how they stay true to themselves and love what they’re workin’ with. Read on for their lessons in remaining authentic—we hope this will inspire you to identify and celebrate that distinct feature of your own that makes you beautiful.
Bald Is Beautiful
Name: Rashidah Bernay Fowler
Hometown: New York
BYRDIE: I love that you have a shaved head—it really lights up your whole face!
RASHIDAH BERNAY FOWLER: By having no hair, I do stand out, but I didn’t do it for beauty purposes. It sounds cliché, but I went through a breakup and cut my hair. Then I decided to keep it short because it does bring more attention to my face and my other features.
BYRDIE: After you shaved your head, did you feel like you had to relearn your whole beauty routine?
RBF: I tried a lot more [makeup] colors after I cut my hair; different finishes like metallics and mattes, bright colors [like this Almay Intense I-Color Party Brights shadow, $9]. I’m literally a blank page—a palette—and I can do whatever works.
BYRDIE: Yes, I think a lot of people stick to one beauty look or whatever is “in” at the moment rather than experimenting. Is there any crazy trend you’d love to try?
RBF: I’ve seen wavy or “braided” brow designs lately. I wouldn’t wear it in everyday life, but it’s a look I’d like to try just for fun. If I get a chance to do something with my eyes, I go for it.
BYRDIE: Would your desert-island beauty pick be an eye product then?
RBF: If I could choose one makeup item, it’d be mascara [like Almay One Coat Mega Volume Mascara, $7]. It draws more attention to my eyes, because they’re one of my best features. I can go out with no lipstick or blush, but I have to have mascara. [Editor’s note: The unique megaphone-shaped brush on this one, makes it an office favorite.]
A Prominent Nose Is an Envious Profile
Name: Mia D.
Hometown: New York City
BYRDIE: You mentioned that you do a little bit of everything. You’re an actor, a writer, a musician, and a model. What has working in all these different fields taught you about beauty?
MIA D.: [In beauty now], we’re seeing all these different faces, and the thing I think is great is that they don’t fit into certain categories. For instance, I’m Turkish and Mongolian—but what does that even mean? For me, it’s what makes me different. I’ve always been attracted to what makes someone different and interesting.
BYRDIE: You do have a distinct look, with your blunt bangs against your light skin. What is your favorite feature?
MD: I like my nose because it’s really unique. I’ll never look like anyone else because of my nose, so I love my profile. I also really like my cheeks because I have high cheekbones. Just a little bit of [makeup] really makes them pop.
BYRDIE: Definitely. I think a hint of color or a highlighter like the one you’re wearing, Almay Instant Glow™ Highlighting Duo ($12), are really all you need sometimes. (Plus, it's a multi-tasker, so you can use the cream or the liquid end.)
MD: Growing up, my mom was against any makeup at all, so of course I overdid it. I wanted to wear everything all at once, and I didn’t have a sense of what products to buy or what to use. Now, I have this routine that feels nice and simple and brings out my personality. I like no-makeup makeup with a pop of color. [But] it doesn’t always have to be the same thing—I like to switch it up and try new things.
Bushy Eyebrows Shouldn't Be Downplayed
Name: Cami O.
BYRDIE: You just moved from Florida to New York. What are the biggest style differences you’ve noticed?
CAMI O.: In Florida, everyone just walks around in bathing suits or in a similar look. But in New York, everyone has such different styles. I can wear whatever I want here, and no one judges.
BYRDIE: Has your beauty routine changed at all?
CO: Not really. When I wake up, I moisturize and put on foundation and mascara. If I’m going out, I’ll put eyeliner on, but I don’t go crazy. I definitely prefer a more natural, glowy look. And since I grew up in Florida, I always wear sunscreen and hats to protect my skin— and I drink a lot of water.
BYRDIE: You’re making this beauty editor so happy! Whenever people ask about the number one thing they can do to improve their skin, we say wear sunscreen.
CO: Yeah, I used to play volleyball, and I would get so tan I would look unrecognizable.
BYRDIE: Well, now there are products where you can still have some color and a tan, but also protect your skin. Like you’re wearing the Almay Healthy Glow™ Makeup + Gradual Self Tan ($13), which has SPF 20 and leaves behind subtle color. But other than your skin, what would you say is your most distinct feature?
CO: My favorite feature is my eyebrows. I’m studying communications in college right now, but I juggle that with modeling, too. Whenever I’m on a shoot, people say, “Don’t ever touch your eyebrows!” so I like them very natural.
BYRDIE: Did you ever wish you didn’t have thick brows, or did you ever try to change them?
CO: I think everyone has some key piece of themselves that’s different from anyone else. You should be playing up those features, not hiding them.
Low Cheekbones Are Just as Striking as High Ones
Name: Heather W.
Hometown: California, Virginia… all over
BYRDIE: Tell me a little about what you do.
HW: I’ve been modeling, acting, and singing for over 20 years now. After being in the industry for so long, I started an omnimedia company. Basically, I want to help girls in this industry understand what they’re getting into.
BYRDIE: What do you mean by that?
HW: Young people are so easily manipulated, and they do what they’re told. Some of these girls move to New York and move into “model apartments” as young as 12 years old. I don’t want to deter them, but I want to help them know what they’re getting into—to help them learn the business side and how to be successful, and how to not be taken advantage of.
BYRDIE: Were there ever times when you wanted to turn away from the industry?
HW: When I first started modeling, agencies would say, “Come back when your cheekbones pop.” Which when you’re young is so hard to hear, but eventually I grew into my face and they did help define my look. I was so excited, because I didn’t have to use so much bronzer anymore to fake them. I’ll do a little highlighter [like Almay Instant Glow Highlighting Duo ($12) in Medium Deep] on the tops of my cheekbones, lightly down the bridge of my nose, and under my brow bones.
BYRDIE: What other features do you feel make you stand out in your industry?
HW: I really like my freckles because when you’re young and you have spots or moles, kids make fun of you. But over the years, I’ve gotten more and more of them, and I think they’re youthful and fun.
BYRDIE: What do you wish girls knew about beauty or about doing their makeup?
HW: With all these tutorials online, women are doing super-overdone makeup. I think you should highlight your features with makeup, not cover them up. And you don’t need to always be sexy! Instagram has enforced that idea too much.
What is the distinct feature you love about yourself, and how do you play it up?