Marley Parker on Her Signature Curls, Body Image, and Racial Identity

Welcome to our series, Beauty Test, where we invite the freshest faces to the Byrdie studio to test-drive the most buzzed-about beauty trends—or to be honest, just some rad makeup looks we've been dying to see in real life. This month, get to know up-and-coming DJ and model Marley Parker.

I arrive on set—late, courtesy of an overcrowded L train—like a tornado, clutching coffee and tote bags with every available limb. My eyes dart around the studio, first from the organized makeup table to the racks of spring-colored clothing and accessories. Everyone was calm and sun-lit. It's all good, I thought, relieved she hadn't yet arrived. "She," of course, is Marley Parker, a born-and-raised New Yorker who blends various beauty looks on her Instagram as aptly as she does genres of music as DJ She Marley Marl.

The 18-year-old model/DJ walked in shortly after, her immaculate bare skin peppered with freckles and her trademark Afro more stunning than I'd imagined. It always tends to take a minute to reacclimate to meeting a person in real life after fawning over Instagram images for weeks prior. In this case, it was remembering that the woman standing in front of me, 5'10" and swagger in spades, was just a teenager. Parker is outgoing (she walked over to introduce herself, smiling with an outstretched hand to shake mine) and possesses a knowledge of music far beyond her years.

She offered up her own playlist for the day, stopping to explain the origins and inspirations for many of the songs between shots. She's playful, as evidenced by the breaks for laughter and praise when she caught a glimpse of herself in the monitor, and for lack of a more poetic word, she's vibey. Her style matches her personality in all its eclectic, original, raw glory, and it all comes across as both authoritative and spontaneous in equal measure.

We got to talking about skincare, her signature curls, body positivity, and the consistent and unrelenting questioning of her racial identity. In true Gen-Z form, Parker spoke eloquently about each issue, offering her well-informed opinion plainly and without embellishment. Find her thoughts on confidence, beauty inspiration, and music below.

Production Credits: Photographer: Adrienne Raquel; Hairstylist: Jeanie Syfu; Makeup Artist: Alana Wright; Manicurist: Gracie J.; Stylist: Christine Nicholson; Model: Marley Parker with Muse Models