I’ve lived in New Haven, Connecticut for the previous decade, however I grew up within the hood. It’s nice, I can say that—I say it with love, and with some unhappiness, as a result of my neighborhood and all those round it are quickly gentrifying. I’m used to very large rats and flying cockroaches and pigeons having loud intercourse within the air con models, however after I went to school and located a ladybug flying in my dorm room, I cried and known as my dad to ask what to do. I had by no means seen a ladybug. When my youthful brother (who was named after legendary Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter) used to go to, he would inform his mates he was visiting his sister “within the nation.” And final week, we had a blackout within the nation. A blackout in the midst of a pandemic in the midst of a warmth wave—I attempted to remain calm.
As a author, I’ve labored from house for a few years, and having my e book tour canceled and changed by Zoom was a dream for me. I’m an beginner efficiency artist within the model of Amy Sedaris or a melodramatic toddler in drag, and the medium suited me. I’d get up and meditate for about 30 minutes, doing physique scans particularly. They assist me take into consideration my physique as one thing…impartial. Not a political cry or battleground, not as this highly effective! robust! invincible! supreme that always will get foisted onto girls of shade. I typically really feel fragile and gentle, like a bit of paper soaking in water, but uncertain what sharing these moments would do to assist different femmes of shade. Throughout my physique scans, on the ground, my physique takes up area. That mere truth feels radical.
After I meditated, I showered. I soaped my physique with Body Hero, which doesn’t odor too candy or gendered, then used a thick eczema lotion from La Roche-Posay adopted by Herbivore Jasmine Body Oil. It jogged my memory that I used to be alive, nonetheless alive, a miracle, when so many who seemed like me have been dying from contagion. I felt responsible, and fortunate—a miracle. And so I handled my physique prefer it was uncommon.
Subsequent, I placed on gentle clothes and Stan Smiths and sat down at my desk to do my make-up. Once I was rising up, my mother didn’t put on make-up until it was for church—to be seen and admired by different girls. At all times dodging my father’s calls for that she additionally put on it at house, she stated to me, privately, that make-up is private and never worn for a person. I’m queer, and I’ve borderline persona dysfunction, and am an undocumented immigrant in America, and my relationship with myself is shaky. So no matter whether or not I’m at house, on a reporting journey, or doing one thing to advertise my work, I at all times put together the identical approach. I did the identical routine within the blackout.
I parted my black hair within the center and brushed it right into a slicked bun taut with gel. In fact, I placed on my hoops. Then I hydrated my dry pores and skin and began my make-up: bronzed, flushed, like I simply ran, like I simply got here again from the seaside, like I simply orgasmed, like I’m not vitamin D poor, like I’ve been to dam events and road gala’s, getting funnel cake from my Italian neighbors and arepas from my Colombian neighbors and gyros from my Greek neighbors. I used the Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer with SPF which is dewy however hides no blemish. I don’t need to conceal. I used the Hourglass lengthening mascara on vampier days, and the Ilia mascara on days after I wished my lashes to look lengthy however not glamorous. Most significantly, I completed with the Patrick Ta Crème and Powder Blush Duo. On my lips was a tinted balm just like the Dr. PawPaw Rich Moca balm or Hurraw Hazelnut, which is barely shiny, intensely moisturizing, and scrumptious. I really like supporting manufacturers by girls of shade like Mented, Fenty, Beauty Bakerie. As a Latina, I’m excited for Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty launch as a result of her magnificence philosophy appears rather a lot like mine.
After I put myself collectively inch by inch, I seemed on the paper doll I created and I believed, “She appears good. Her eyes look unhappy however they appear variety, and her eyelashes are lengthy. How fairly. I like her. I believe I’ll maintain her.” I poured myself a gin and tonic in a mug supporting the nationwide parks and puzzled why my readers thought I so savored my espresso at 8PM. My look was totally glamorous, and the characters I’d placed on made speaking to journalists about intergenerational trauma simpler. One journalist who didn’t do her fact-checking wrote that I had a “FUCK ICE” tattoo on my arm—in actuality, it was KVD eyeliner.
At the hours of darkness, in the midst of the night time, I’m bombarded by ideas that I’m price nothing. I’ve supported each of my dad and mom financially all through the quarantine, and since I’ve at all times been a statistical anomaly it’s arduous for me to like myself exterior of my accomplishments. (My accomplishments maintain my household, and members of my group, alive.) It typically appears like there are crosshairs on my stunning brown, easy, oiled, camelia flowers-from-the-Physique-Store-scented again, which is precisely why magnificence isn’t superfluous to me. These routines floor me. I don’t at all times really feel blissful, however as an immigrant, a queer lady, a sullen woman, it is crucial for my dignity. And typically meaning wanting like an Almodovar muse even after I’m writing from mattress, in a blackout, in a warmth wave, in a pandemic.
—Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
Photograph by way of ITG