Missy Elliott Inspired Me to Ditch My Naked Palette

Growing up, 21-year-old Abigail Cherubin felt like she had to pare back her makeup to fit in. But bold makeup helps her reject the stereotypes society places on Black women—even if sometimes it looks like she's crying glitter.
January 24, 2019, 3:55pm
A young woman in a leopard print blouse looks at the camera, in front of a blue sky
Photo courtesy of Abigail Cherubin

Whether you're a drag queen or a doctor, everybody's makeup bag has a story to tell. Compact Report takes a look inside people's cosmetic toolkits to see what they say about our lives—broken palettes and all. This week, 21-year-old Abigail Cherubin from Miami explains how bright eyeshadow and taking inspiration from Solange taught her to love herself.

My mom came from Haiti to America as a young girl. She went to a predominantly white high school, and she always felt like she needed to assimilate to American culture. As I watched her doing her makeup when I was little, she always wore nudes or brown lipsticks. I started doing the same when I first wore makeup: The first makeup palette I ever bought was the Urban Decay Naked Palette, which was a mixture of neutral-looking brown shades. I thought: Wow, it’s perfect!


It’s on my nightstand collecting dust right now—I don’t use it any more.

So what changed? Becoming a fan of artists like Solange and Missy Elliott inspired me to make bolder choices with my makeup. Seeing Solange play around with really bright eyeshadows was super-inspiring to me—she used makeup to express her dynamism.

Recently, I bought my Fenty Beauty Galaxy Palette ($59) with a paycheck from my shitty job at Chipotle. I finally got some money and saw that Fenty was releasing a palette of like every single color I’ve ever wanted to experiment with. So I splurged on it, and now I wear it all the time. When someone sees me wearing green or pink eyeshadow, nine times out of 10, it’s from the Galaxy palette. Sometimes there’s a bit of fallout that leaves glitter under my eyes, but i don’t mind that—it looks like I’m crying glitter! For me, when I use this palette, I’m declaring that I’m going to be as bold as I want to be.


Abigail Cherubin. Photo courtesy of subject.

I bought the Milk Makeup Tattoo Stamp ($12) with two of my closest friends when we happened to be in Urban Outfitters. We’re all in a group chat together; we call ourselves the Holy Trinity. Whenever we’re together, we always wear the face stamp! People come up to us when we’re shopping in the mall to ask, “Is that a face tattoo?” It's our way of bonding us together.

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I’m obsessed with highlighter, especially because I always felt when I was younger that society makes darker-skinned Black women downplay our features. I think of highlighter as a way to accentuate the cheekbones that were handed down by my ancestors. I use Glossier Haloscope in Topaz ($22). It has this natural dewy finish that's perfect for me.


I used to be scared of blush. I didn’t want to look like a clown! But I really like the Glossier Cloud Paint in Haze ($18). It’s really easy to use and gives me this rosy tint that’s really pretty.

I love Fenty Mattemoiselle Plush Matte Lipstick ($18). Rihanna changed the game—it was so revolutionary to see so many different types of women represented in her ads. I remember going to purchase a drugstore foundation in the eighth grade and it being the scariest experience ever. The foundation barely matched my face—it didn’t blend properly. Now I see the Fenty effect that’s been going through the industry, and all these other brands see all these women of color buying Fenty products because Rihanna came out with such a wide range of shades, and they're finally thinking, Oh! The Black dollar is pretty profitable.

Last summer, I did an internship at a fashion magazine in New York. I literally felt like the real-life Andy of The Devil Wears Prada—It was so much harder than I expected! I’d be running up and down Manhattan on the subway with these huge bags, in the heat. It was really cool, and I’m grateful for the experience. At the end of the internship, the editors let us go crazy in the beauty closet. I got hold of this Rouge Dior Lipstick in Dark Devil ($37). It’s the perfect purple shade. I always feel so fancy and bougie when I wear this lipstick.


Abigail's makeup bag. Photo courtesy of Abigail Cherubin

I always have my Milk Eye Vinyl ($10) in my makeup bag. Glossy lids = my go-to look. It’s so easy to do, and I always get compliments when I wear it to school. The eye vinyl was a great summer look when I was interning, too—it was so hot all my other makeup would literally melt off my face.

I regret buying the Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara ($24). People were raving about it online, but it’s not that good. From now I’m going to stick with drugstore mascara. More than $10 is too much to spend on mascara.

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I’m trying to be more conscious in the products I use and the brands I support, so I feel guilty about using Maybelline Fit Me Concealer in Cafe ($6) because Maybelline tests on animals. I’ve been wanting to switch my concealer for a while to a brand I’m more ethically comfortable with. But it’s hard to find a shade that works for me as a woman of color: there’s often so little diversity in shade ranges, and the Maybelline works really well on me. I’ve been using it since I was a freshman in high school.

Growing up, I felt like Black women weren’t always given the space to be complex or multifaceted. We had to present ourselves in ways that make non-Black people feel comfortable. So you slim down your features in order not to be read as loud, or ghetto: that clichèd Black-girl stereotype that society puts upon us. Now, I use makeup to communicate my individuality and creativity. It helps me to express my truth.