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title. ci001898

size. 20 x 16 x 1



Foundation, crayons, photograph, transleucent powder

030319 ysbb best open compact JPEG.jpg
030319 ysbb best  JPEG.jpg


The spring viola represents the colors I "feel" I am on the inside. There is an iridescence shimmering from me to the compact to illuminate my conflicted relationship with makeup. I love wearing colors on my lips and eyes because it is like painting my face to match the colors I feel inside. I'm addicted to the way foundation makes me "Instagram filter" perfect, but hate shopping for it in areas with few people of color (whatever that means).


30% of American women surveyed by Glamour Magazine have no foundation match. This "Your Skin but Better" compact is 70% filled with the "skin-colored" Crayola crayons and the lightest and darkest shades of the cheapest foundation at the closest drugstore to me in Brooklyn, New York. None of the shades are white or black. Not even the crayons.


You can look at yourself and the crowd around you in the mirrors. Are you the 30%? Have you been "othered"? The name of the piece is the founding date of the first American company that made makeup for non-pale people. The founder tired of being “other”.


It's a struggle to find a match in drugstores that don't stock a spectrum of colors. This can be in a predominately light-skinned are, but I've seen it in multiracial areas, too. Perhaps, that is due to subtle or unconscious bias? Maybe it's more sinister and they think they won't make money if they stock darker colors. In Brooklyn, that rarely occurs. I can usually find something to match me in MOST brands.


I'm tired of cosmetics counter makeup artists starting with the darkest shade and leaving a warpaint streak on my jaw. They'd realize their error and go lighter, but still cajole me to buy darker than my skin. It felt like "Blacks are this color, and you're Black, so you can't be my skintone or lighter." I'd step out in the sun and it would look like blackface. I'd jump through hoops to return it and they'd give me stinkeye. It's happened around the world. I've even been told by a White person (who was darker than me) that they didn't carry my color (they did). Once in Bloomingdales (a luxury NYC store), a manager saw nonsense happening. He whisked me away and took care of everything. He was Black. He said, "I know what’s happening, and you do, too." That was the last time I voluntarily went into a "nice department store"--it was 2013.


The makeup’s lid reads "Your Skin But Better" and is accented with two sequins (the JEWELS you KNOW you are) crowded out by silver-painted glass. SOMETIMES when I put on foundation, it’s like painting over my translucent, fragile soul to pretend I’m a precious metal--hardened and worth the arbitrary amount the global market has determined.

Of course, some are too light for available colors. It's rarely anything I see discussed, however. That in itself deserves a deeper dive. Are people afraid of complaining about whiteness?

What does foundation equality look like? Are customizing foundation drops like makeup affirmative action? How to fix non-liquids?

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