Meet The Refinery29 News Initiative Fellows: Emily Holshouser

We are excited to announce a new video series coming to Refinery29's YouTube tomorrow — Truth Told. We are bringing these educational and investigative news series unpacking present day social issues to life through a Google News Initiative grant and five amazing fellows. Read more about the fellows — in their own words — below.


The first makeup product I remember having was this terrible glitter palette that had no label and no ingredients list. This palette was nasty. It had red, blue, green, white, and gold glitter that I’m pretty sure was a Halloween palette from Michael’s. It was chunky and oily and it looked awful, but I wore it every day. I didn’t know how to do anything else — foundation, eyebrows, mascara, and lips were all foreign to me. In 2007 there were no beauty gurus teaching you what products to use. I had to teach myself, and the learning curve was steep.

At this point, makeup didn’t really have much of a place in my life beyond something pretty I put on myself from time to time. I went to a small middle school with only 13 kids — makeup wasn’t what girls were doing. We liked books, movies, and writing fan-fiction. We had more important things to talk about, and I didn’t want to look stupid.

When I started college, makeup now felt like a line in the sand between the girls who were fuckable but not smart, and the girls who were smart but not fuckable. I felt self-conscious going to class with nice eyeshadow on my face or buying foundation that cost more than $10. I was also into other things now, too, like reality TV, memes, and social media. I liked watching The Bachelor and treating it as an academic study of producers, editors, and directors who were excellent at their craft. I liked dissecting memes just as much as I liked reading NPR. A good Instagram post was satisfying. And I felt so guilty. Was I stupid or vain? I didn’t feel like I was. But anytime I was around friends who weren’t into these stupid things, bringing them up made me feel deeply insecure and wrong.

I want to say now that I shamelessly love a good eyeliner and have an opinion on my favorite Survivor contestant (it’s Sugar). But sometimes, it’s not shameless. I still feel that churning guilt in my stomach. You’re stupid. This is stupid. Talk about things that matter. You are a dumb blonde and you are not saying anything valuable. Say something about politics.

Sometimes I have to tell that voice to shut up and let me enjoy things. Sometimes it takes a yell rather than a whisper. But even having a voice makes me feel like those two girls fighting for attention in my brain have moved on, and the girl standing in their place doesn’t care if you think it’s stupid that sometimes, the best part of my week is sitting on my couch with a notepad dissecting the politics of 30 men vying for one white girl’s attention.


Love whatever you want to and ban that nagging guilt from your brain. It’s just jealous of your brows, anyway.

After spending a long time working at networks and production companies, I wanted to feel like I was doing work that would really impact someone's life. Refinery29 makes content that empowers and gives a voice to people who normally don't have one. Getting to do this job means that I get to help in that mission, and that's why I love this fellowship and Refinery29.

Show Action Button
Load more...