My character’s name is Lettie Lutz — she’s the bearded lady. In my role prep, I did a ton of research into polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), an endocrine disease in females that can include overproduction of testosterone. It can lead to weight gain, acne, and in some extreme cases, prominent facial and chest hair. Last year, I discovered some articles about an incredible young woman named Harnaam Kaur, who lives with PCOS. Through her courage to speak of her own struggle, I learned so much about my own insecurities. I mean, logistically speaking, they’re nothing like that. But relatively speaking, they’re exactly like that.
When I was younger, my mother wanted me to look like Claudia Schiffer. I was like, “We’re not even German, but all right.” As you get older, whatever your struggles may be — how you sound, how you look, how you dress — you grow into yourself a little bit more. You end up realizing the world wants you and not a carbon copy of six other people. I woke up one day and thought, Enough is enough with bullying myself. The war is within you, and that’s also where it’s won. You just have to tackle your insecurities and then let them go.
Over the past 10 years or so, my approach to personal beauty has changed a lot. Most of it has been coming to terms with who I am, which is a half-Caucasian, half-Polynesian, plus-size-and-proud woman. I have skin that’s different from that of 80 percent of the people in the mainland United States, so I’ve done a lot of research into the kind of stuff that works for my skin. And I’ve been in productions where I’m changing my makeup multiple times a day for eight days a week.
Thayers Witch Hazel is a lifesaver. It’s the cheapest thing ever — I have it on Amazon subscription. At night, I’ll use that to take off makeup, and then I’ll go in with Kiehl’s clay cleanser. Two or three times a week, I’ll use the TLC cream from Eve Lom. It’s so rich, you just pat it on.
I use this Korean product called J.One Jelly Pack. It’s a mask, but I use it as a primer — it has the consistency of jelly. Over that, I’ll put BareMinerals Complexion Rescue tinted moisturizer mixed with Marc Jacobs Dew Drops Highlighter. On days I’m not working, I don’t wear a ton of other makeup, but if I have to look like I care, I’ll use this By Terry Ombre Blackstar eye shadow stick in Frozen Quartz and Eyeko mascara. Depending on the gig, I might also wear a lip — lately I’ve been using Nars Powermatte Lip Pigment in American Woman, and on top, I’ll wear ChapStick Total Hydration in Rose Petal.
As I gracefully and happily enter my 40s, I’ve been having fun looking back on all the adventures I’ve had makeup- and style-wise and counting up the mistakes. Just crazy choices that I so committed to. But at the same time, those choices were all a part of me. You’re always building up the character of yourself — those weird bangs I had that I used to love are a small smidgen of who I am as a person. I love looking back and being like, That was a terrible idea. That was a hot mess. It all makes us who we are, you know?
— As told to Brennan Kilbane
A version of this article originally appeared in the December 2017 issue of Allure. To get your copy, head to newsstands or subscribe now.
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