On 22nd September, MAC Cosmetics invited Micro Rainbow and nine beneficiaries to its Carnaby Street store to spend the afternoon with its team of makeup artists for transformational makeovers. MAC Cosmetics began supporting Micro Rainbow earlier in 2022, as part of MAC’s VIVA GLAM Charity Initiative.
Established in 1994, VIVA GLAM is MAC Cosmetics’ charitable initiative. It raises money and awareness to support sexual equality, racial equality and gender equality for people of all ages, all races and all genders. Earlier in 2022 saw MAC commit £50k of this funding to support Micro Rainbow to furnish a brand new safehouse.
The event at Carnaby Street was part of Micro Rainbow’s Social Inclusion programme. Micro Rainbow’s social inclusion work aims to counteract the isolation, loneliness and rejection felt by many LGBTQI refugees. Many LGBTQI refugees in the UK are ostracised by their families. They lack social safety nets and are sometimes forced to live at the margins of society as a result. Social inclusion activities help to build new friendships and create community networks.
MAC invited Micro Rainbow and nine beneficiaries to attend the store to experience makeovers with its Credo Team of artists. The Credo Team’s intention going into the event was to support the beneficiaries to experiment, curate looks, and enable them to express their authentic selves to the world. The event’s emphasis was on teaching make up skills but also on inclusivity and confidence building. It kicked off with a talk from Moud Goba, Micro Rainbow’s National Manager. She spoke about Micro Rainbow’s work with refugees and asylum seekers. She explained how the Housing and Social Inclusion programmes support LGBTQI people fleeing persecution.
VIVA GLAM and the Credo Team
Each beneficiary was then matched with a makeup artist from MAC’s Credo Team. The Credo Team is a group of Artists who ensure that MAC incorporates its brand Credo of “All Ages, All Races, All Genders” into everything MAC does at all levels throughout the company. Then the artist and beneficiary could discuss looks, ideas, techniques, and colours. Credo Team artists could answer questions about MAC’s range and point to key products for the beneficiaries.
There was a range of experience in using make up amongst the participants, with some never having used it before. MAC’s Credo Team artists tailored their approach to each participant. They made suggestions based on face shape, skin tone, eye colour and eye shape. They demonstrated techniques that accentuated certain features and gave guidance for reproducing looks at home.
An inclusive and welcoming space for self-expression
MAC’s Credo Team and Carnaby Street store created a non-judgemental environment and space. It was inclusive, welcoming, and accepting, and the beneficiaries felt able to express themselves. Several of the beneficiaries were trans women, hailing from countries such as Sri Lanka – where the gender expression of trans people is explicitly proscribed – and Pakistan and Uganda, where being LGBT is criminalised. MAC’s Credo Team was also diverse in gender expression, body types and backgrounds. This also really contributed to making the beneficiaries feel comfortable and welcomed.
First time in the makeup chair
For some participants, such as Modupe, a lesbian from Nigeria where the maximum punishment for same-sex activity is death by stoning, it was one of the first times she had used makeup. Bruce, a genderfluid person from Malaysia, felt comfortable building confidence in new looks in an inclusive environment. Josephine, who is a lesbian from Uganda, said of the experience with MAC:
Growing up I was never permitted to wear make unless on special occasions like weddings. When I was finally able to wear make up at free will, I then struggled to find the perfect match and how to use of all the products.
The Credo Team was able to advise Josephine on how to use MAC’s products and helped her find the colour matches she needed. This workshop was not just about learning make-up skills, it was also about building self-esteem and reclaiming oneself. Josephine also had this to say about the inclusivity of the event:
I would just truly love to appreciate MAC Cosmetics for creating such an inclusive space and brand… I’m truly grateful for the opportunity on the MAC event where we were showed which product to use and how to use it because I truly believe to look good is to feel good.
If you would like to learn more about Micro Rainbow’s safehouses for LGBTQI people fleeing persecution, visit the Housing page. Visit the Social Inclusion page to learn more about how the Weather the Storm programme of events that help refugees and asylum seekers build networks of friendship and support.