For some, a lipstick is just a lipstick. But for others, it's a source of strength, creativity, and expression. In our series Power Faces, we'll explore the relationship between strong women and the makeup they choose to wear — or not. Our latest subject is child actor turned Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Tayla Parx, who released her first album, We Need to Talk, in April, and has co-written hits for Ariana Grande and Mariah Carey. This story was told to Samantha Sasso and edited for length and clarity.
I started getting my makeup done on TV and movie sets when I was 12 or 13 years old. Being put in front of the eyes of a lot of people at that age became one of those moments when I had to find my confidence. It’ll change as you grow up, and you’ll find and discover certain things about yourself that you love. You’ll also find something about yourself that isn’t your favourite thing, but that’s the thing that makes you special.
There are always these unspoken pressures and expectations, but this is the time, right now, when women are more empowered than ever to be exactly who they are. I’m honoured to be a part of this movement of independent women who are showing our take on feminism, our take on what a strong woman is through our style, our words, and how we project ourselves on the stage. It all goes back to being confident in your personal identity.
I've identified as a tomboy my entire life. I wasn’t really into makeup or the typical “girly” things, so I have a different idea of what feminism is, because I had to discover my own version of it along the way. I'm just now starting to love playing with makeup and finding these other sides to myself. You have to dig a little deeper and recognise what the norm is, and know that you might not be that. What if I woke up one day and loved different styles that I never could’ve imagined wearing because I was so stuck on this identity of being a tomboy?
I love the colour pink. I’m happy that I identify so much with that colour right now because it’s versatile; it never gets boring. There are so many different things it can stand for — right now, for me, it represents feminism. It’s ever-evolving, just the same as I am.
When I was younger, I looked to so many artists for inspiration. Missy Elliott was one of those women who turned traditional concepts on their head. I’d never seen someone like her before. Until recently, there wasn't a lot of representation of black women in beauty. All of a sudden, we have a really good opportunity to put these incredible black women on platforms to look at and conceptualise ideas of beauty that I didn’t have when I was younger. It's something I can incorporate into my everyday fashion, my everyday lifestyle — without having to be put into a box.
I’m a very moody person. My outfits depend on my mood, and my hair colour is based off of my outfits, so it all goes back to where I am in my life at the moment. I went through this lion phase for three years when I had long hair. My hair holds so much power for me — especially at that time, when it was like my comfort blanket. Then, when I started discovering who I was as a musician and a writer, I woke up one day and thought, Okay, this is my sound, but what does that sound look like?
Before recently, I'd never worn wigs — now, they’re how some people identify me. People had been used to seeing me with long hair, so it took them a minute to get used to my new look. That fact that I can effortlessly switch my look with a wig is freeing. Wigs are also a way I can take care of my natural hair. I have 14 wigs — it's getting crazy.
The bob is almost always around, but I’ve been kind of ready for a change. Maybe I will go into a natural phase one of these days. I just want to take care of my hair and see what the vibe is moving forward.
Business Of Glitter
I never want to feel like anything in my life, including my makeup, isn’t me. I wear things that I’m comfortable and confident in, and that’s the same approach I want to take with my makeup. When I perform, I need my glitter and lashes. When you see me with glitter, that means I woke up that day to play no games. Sometimes there’s glitter all over my shit, but I love it.
To go out without any makeup at all and still feel confident is powerful for me, too. It’s important to continue to keep that sense of grounding. Every makeup artist used to cover up my freckles. Then people were shocked when I wouldn’t wear makeup. Now, I make a point to tell makeup artists that I want my freckles to show. I want that real part of me to be present.
I’ve been uncomfortable without makeup before; I'm human. On those days when you think twice about it — when you feel like you should’ve put on some concealer or not worn your natural hair — you have to ask yourself why you’re feeling that way. It’s extremely important to get to the root of why you take a second look in the mirror before you walk out of the house.
When my fans see me strip down without the makeup, it’s another way for us to relate and connect to each other. It’s like when I’m on stage and I see people relate to my lyrics that come 100% from my heart. It’s a different way of connecting. I’m saying that I hear you, I’m here for you, I’m here with you. Seeing their reaction adds fuel to my fire. But in the same way that that’s real for me, so is adding a little spice in there, too, like a cool eyelid or bushy brows. It's all genuinely me.