I Was Bullied For My Albinism — Now It’s My Biggest Source Of Confidence

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, in partnership with eos, Diandra Forrest, is a model with albinism, a genetic condition in which one’s skin produces significantly less melanin. This story was told to Jennifer Mulrow and edited for length and clarity.
I grew up in the Bronx in a household with two brothers — older and younger — and my parents. Growing up in the Bronx with albinism was a challenge. There was a lot of teasing. I was very shy, and I didn’t make much effort to make new friends because I always felt they were judging me for being white.
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There wasn’t as much education about albinism back then, so it was really difficult, but I pushed through. I come from a close-knit family, and my parents are very supportive. They instilled in us a sense of love and strength.
Gateway Gloss
I used to watch my mom put on her makeup. She didn’t do much, just the subtle things, and I remember always thinking, I can’t wait until I can do that. Especially lip gloss. That was the first product she let me get, and I would go in. I was just so happy to wear it.
She started out letting me wear light colors, like light pinks and clear, but eventually I started wearing fuchsia and orange. I think, depending on your makeup, it changes the vibe that you’re trying to give: Am I going to be soft and pretty, or am I going for more fierce and edgy? 
Now, I’ll scroll through Instagram — there’s a whole beauty section — and wonder, Can I do that? Most of the time I can’t, but it is fun to play around and try. Even when I’m on set and there’s something that I’ve never done or seen before, I ask the makeup artist, “What products are you using?” Or, “How do I do this?” I’m trying to learn so that I can be creative, as well.
Role Model
When I first started modeling, I was so happy to be accepted in an industry where people look up to models as “beautiful.” When I was able to finally say that I was a model, it definitely boosted my confidence.
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But, as with anything, there were challenges. In the beginning, it was like I was put in a specific market. I wasn’t just beautiful, I was a “unique beauty,” and I knew that had to do with my albinism. I wanted to change that because I think beauty is beauty. It shouldn’t be “you’re an odd beauty” or “you’re a unique beauty.” It shouldn’t be put into categories. If you’re a beautiful person, you’re a beautiful person. Period.
To me, beauty is more importantly what’s on the inside: who you are as a person, what you have to offer, and how you treat others. That’s what’s really beautiful. But it’s okay to also be beautiful on the outside. Just love who you are and be comfortable in your own skin. Because you’re going to be you for the rest of your life.
Routine Adaptations
My daily beauty routine has changed so much. I used to do it all — eyebrows, lashes, blush — and think that I had just a little bit of makeup on. I remember taking so much time. I would take an hour to do my makeup, and that would be my “minimal” look. 
Now, I just don’t have as much time to do a full face. Daily, I’m pretty much fresh-faced. Once in a while, I’ll do a little bit of coverage if I need it here and there, maybe just a BB cream, some mascara, and lip balm. I barely do my brows anymore — only if I’m going out.
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I think what sparked that change is just being more comfortable, really. I remember feeling like I had to wear brows, mascara, etc.… but now, I see myself as beautiful without as much. I can see my beauty underneath all of the makeup. 
Having kids also definitely changed the amount of time I can put into makeup. But I think that as a mom, you can still wear as much or as little makeup as makes you feel beautiful. I remember nursing and putting on makeup! I think it’s about how you feel and how you want to present yourself to the world, and whichever way that is is okay.

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