Michelle Phan + Desi Perkins On Turning Insecurity Into An Asset
Before Michelle Phan was a beauty mogul, she was a teen hanging out in her room, trying to figure out how to accentuate cheekbones that didn’t seem to exist. When life gave her babyfat (we’ve all got it!), she made lemonade in the form of makeup tutorials on YouTube and an unprecedented beauty career. (In addition to being a massive YouTuber, Michelle is an author, has her own makeup line, and is a co-founder of the social network, ipsy, which is now launching a DIY video productions space, ipsy Open Studios.)
Desi Perkins, a beauty YouTuber with 1.2 million subscribers and ipsy stylist also knows a thing or two about turning a little insecurity into triumph.
We recently sat down with the beauties for pro tips on how to turn a sore source of self confidence into an something to be proud of:
How have you get over a physical insecurity?
Michelle: When I was about 18, I had the chubbiest face. I don’t know where it came from. My mom always told me it’s genetic and that once I turned 25, it will start melting off. I hated it. I could never contour. Everything was so round, I didn’t know where to find my cheekbones. And that’s what inspired me to contour even more. I fell in love with the art of contouring because I didn’t have any contours in my face because everything was so round.
Now, I’m 28, I have cheekbones now and these natural contours. It’s kind of crazy to see that transformation. Its kind of crazy to see that transformation and of how I was able to learn how to contour because of it.
There’s nothing more empowering than creating your own beauty. You’re sculpting your own beauty and bringing it out so other people can see it and I feel like that’s what makeup is. Makeup is a form of self expression, just like how you get dressed. I don’t think you should dress to impress, but dress to express. It’s the same thing with the face, too—expressing who you are inside and out. I wanted cheekbones, even though I didn’t have them, but I found a way to get them.
Desi, How have you dealt with a physical insecurity?
Desi: I feel like, It’s cool if I only have half an eyebrow. I know how to fix it. It’s an issue, but when people say, ‘your brows are so amazing,’ I’m actually really proud of it because it was a big insecurity for me. But I learned how to work with it and made it an asset. A lot of girls have the same problem, but I thought, if I can help all those girls—and it was a big insecurity—but now I don’t even care about it because the whole world knows and they see how I can transform them. Now, my brow tutorial is my biggest viewed video. [ed note: check it below]
How has exposing your insecurity to the world helped empower you?
Desi: If you’re hiding something from yourself and the world and it’s a constant recurring insecurity, then the minute you put it out there and let people know, I feel like you get over the issue yourself—because everyone else already accepts that, ‘ok, this is you’ if they don’t, it’s fine, you move on.
How did you master your brow look?
Desi: Well, a mastery of brows is a life-long experience. I started playing with shapes—and I went through really bad brow shapes. Now I feel great about it. I practiced all the time—especially when Instagram came along—I couldn’t put out a fierce makeup look and have no brows.
If we’re looking to transform our insecurity into an asset, what can we do?
Desi: Taking pictures of your makeup really helped for me. It really shows you a different perspective than looking in the mirror and you can really see and learn from your mistakes. It gives you a totally different outlook. I perfected the mistakes I was making and now doing my brows is literally therapeutic for me. When I sit there and do them, I don’t think about anything—it’s relaxing.
Images courtesy of Steven Perkins