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Glossier's Body Heroes On The Last Thing They Learned To Love About Themselves

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Photos via Glossier and the models, respectively

Before Glossier launched Body Hero Exfoliating Bar and Dry-Touch Oil Mist last week, ITG’s plan was to interview the eight guys and gals photographed for the launch. But apart from appearing in the campaign together, they didn't have much in common—completely different careers, hometowns across the country, totally different approaches to beauty...We wanted to give them all a voice, but how would we package it?

Once they started talking, however, a commonality emerged: each pointed to an aspect of their appearance that lies outside of what they considered to be beauty norms, and spoke on how that one thing started out as a pain point and slowly became their favorite part of themselves. For creative strategist Cyrus, it was the full eyebrows he inherited from his Iranian grandfather. Student Daniele called out her vitiligo; computer programmer Sophie spoke to her prosthetic legs; photographer Tyrell explained how he turned a set of adult braces into a fashion statement. And suddenly, everyone was the same—just regular people, all learning to love the skin they're in. Read on to hear it in their own words.

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Andrea Dalzell

Registered Nurse from Brooklyn, New York

"I have transverse myelitis, which is a neurological disorder that attacks the spinal cord. I hadn’t seen a nurse that looked like me until I was already accepted into nursing school, and even my professors questioned whether I could do this job. But my first job as a bedside nurse was during the peak of COVID in New York, and after my emergency contract ended I started working as a school nurse. My shoulders take the brunt of my everyday work, from pushing my chair, to lifting boxes, to grocery shopping—arms are not meant to be legs, and yet mine must do everything that legs do. I work out for at least an hour and a half after work or before work, and I love to nourish and pamper my body with massages. I'm just happy it hasn't given up on me yet.

My skin is doing much better than it was during the peak of COVID, but I still have dark spots where the mask would rub my cheeks. I either wash my face with the Glossier cleanser or this charcoal one from Boscia, which I use if my skin needs more of a deep clean. I use a little bit of the Glossier Priming Moisturizer, some Banana Boat SPF 50 sunscreen because I don’t want only half of my face to be tan, and then I put on my mask for 12 to 18 hours. I don't wear any makeup at work, but I do get lash extensions. I’ve been doing those for a little over a year now, and I love how I wake up feeling flawless. Sometimes I put strip lashes on top of the extensions. Actually, there’s a makeup artist who uses a wheelchair out in California named Stephanie Aiello and I learned how to put on my lashes from her. The best way to do it is to use a tweezer that’s made for lashes, because it will steady your hand. You put the glue on the strip lash, wave it for 20 to 25 seconds, and then stick it to the middle of your lashes. After that you can rearrange how you want it to sit on your eyes. I think everyone uses the same lash glue—Duo, right? I use the black one, because if I mess it up it just looks like eyeliner."

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Choi Chun Leung

Artist from Wales, UK

"I grew up in North Wales. Even though I was raised in western culture, inside my home I was Chinese, and in Chinese culture there are a lot of rules about how girls are meant to be. In an act of defiance I gave myself a buzz cut when I was 12—I wanted to seem tough so people wouldn’t bother me. I dealt with a lot of racism being the only Chinese girl in school, and I felt like all the references people had for Asian women were highly sexualized. I didn’t start growing my hair out again until I was 17, which is when I left Wales.

Making art has always been a thing that I did—it was never a question that I was going to pursue it. I had done a lot of abstract work about the subconscious, but in 2012 I started this series of cartoon girls. Eventually I realized that they were biographical, and that I was processing my own childhood sexual abuse. When I started sharing the drawings on Instagram, it inspired others to talk about their own experiences. For example, an old friend reached out to me and told me about how they had also been abused. The artwork was what encouraged communication, and that’s when I realized it could be a powerful tool for change. I started getting volunteers, and then it became a 501(c)3, and now I’ve got fiscal sponsorship. The idea is to use the art to visually communicate body boundaries—it gives kids tools to know what is wrong behavior and empowers them to speak up.

I lived in Hong Kong for a bit, and I remember when I would go to the stores to buy skincare products, the women would say, ‘Oh, I have this great product to get rid of your freckles.’ I always liked my freckles, but in Asia, they don’t really want that. They like very pale skin, and sell a lot of whitening products, and I always liked having a tan. I cleanse my face with an oil-based cleanser that I mix myself—it’s got jojoba oil, and some other things—and then I’ll put on Hyaluronic Acid and B5 serum from The Ordinary and some Weleda Skin Food. My grandmother and my mother always told me to put on cream—Pond’s Cream, you know. That’s pretty much all I wear on my face, but black eyeliner is kind of a signature. My favorite is The Body Shop's Black Canyon Onyx eyeshadow mixed with a little water.

My favorite thing my body can do is stretch—I'm still bendy. I trained in martial arts when I was young, and now I stretch using those techniques. I’ve become more comfortable and more psychologically strong as I’ve gotten older, and I think my body reflects that."

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Kendra Austin

Model from San Diego, California

"I always knew I was the brainy and funny girl, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized I’m the hot girl, too. Absolutely everybody wants to be seen and heard, and I never really saw anybody who looked like me being the star of the show. The Glossier campaign with Paloma [Elsesser] for Body Hero was one of the first times I ever saw a body in an ad that looked like mine. A lot of times we have to use our imaginations to see ourselves in clothes or products, and I don't want to have to jump through mental hoops here. So candidly, that really motivated me—I started following women online who looked like me and created space for myself. I always intended to go to law school and eventually go into politics, but the more I learned the less it felt like an appropriate medium for somebody who cannot be anything but herself.

I like to wake up and immediately engage my physicality so I don’t get stuck in my feelings. I started powerlifting because I wanted to feel like I was adding something to my body instead of taking away—I lost over a hundred pounds in 2014, and after that, I realized I only associated moving my body with losing weight. Now I am very, very strong, and I like that. Then I moisturize my whole body, either with Body Hero, squalane oil, or shea butter. I like to record myself doing it, but I don’t share those videos—they’re just for me. When I’m having a bad day and I look in the mirror, I see myself through this hazy veil of feelings and insecurities. Watching these videos lets me appreciate my body more objectively, because I’m not caught up in the moment.

At night, unless I’m absolutely plum tuckered, we’re marinating. I really like this eye cream from Farmacy, and Good Genes by Sunday Riley is my holy grail product without question. And then I like to use a sheet mask—they’re nice and juicy and I like how they keep serum on my skin. I’ve also been using the hair mask from Crown Affair, which brings my curls back to life.

Before bed I’d watch four episodes of Girlfriends, anxiety scroll for three hours, and then wonder why I couldn't go to sleep. Now I try to step away from my phone an hour before I go to bed, put on my Vitruvi, and do breathwork exercises—there’s a YouTube channel called Breathe and Flow that I love, and I also do frequency training with Kenneth Soares. After that, I try to masturbate. Dame Products makes really cute toys that you can totally leave out and not be embarrassed if someone sees. Masturbation is a great stress reliever! People who come often and drink water look great."

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Cyrus Veyssi

Creative Strategist from Boston, Massachusetts

"I knew from a really young age that I identified as queer, and when I got to college I started to wear makeup on a daily basis. Whenever I’d see celebrities post, I’d always click the tags to see who the makeup artist was. But I’m Iranian, and the more mainstream makeup artists weren’t using products that worked for my skin. Once I found makeup artists who worked with Arab models, I learned all their tricks. One of my favorites is Hindash—he’s very, very transparent about products that don’t work well on different complexions. This other artist Patrick Ta taught me how to sculpt my face with makeup, because traditional contour shapes don’t work for me. When I moved to New York and started doing my own shoots for fun, I would get so many queer Persians reaching out to me and asking if I tried certain brands, or certain products. So now I’m very honest about how different products look on my skin.

I was on Accutane, so I treat my skin like it’s sensitive and try not to use foundation daily. I like to color correct under my eyes with Rise from Live Tinted, and then I use the YSL Touché Éclat Radiant concealer in 5—it’s the right amount of coverage, and it looks so natural under my eyes. After that I use a Benefit highlighter in the corners of my eyes for a little pop. I always use Lash Slick and Boy Brow in Black. I used to pluck my brows like crazy—I always wanted my arch to be super defined, because that’s what I saw makeup artists doing. Now I do a little maintenance to make sure I don’t have a unibrow, but I leave the little bushels in the front alone. My grandpa was kind of known for having them, and they’re my favorite part about my eyebrows. If I’m doing more of a look, I’ll start with Skin Tint in G6 and then do a smoky cat eye with anything from Colourpop to Fenty shadows. I’m also a huge fan of Kryolan, a professional makeup brand. Then I’ll usually do a gloss from Fluide Beauty—I really don't like a bold lip.

To wash my face, I’ll either use Cetaphil or Milky Jelly Cleanser. My favorite moisturizer is La Mer—I have a friend who works there and is very generous with the samples. But actually, and this is going to sound weird, I really like using the Glossier hand cream under my eyes. That’s my last step. The scent is incredible, and I feel so much better when I wake up. I also put in a hair mask every night, either Moroccanoil, Amika, or just the Trader Joe’s coconut oil. I'll sleep on it and then rinse out in the morning. It has completely changed the texture of my hair."

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Daniele Lee

Student from Great Neck, New York

"When I came to college I thought I was going to be pre-med—both of my parents are doctors, so I just figured I’d do that. But after taking a few classes, I realized I couldn’t ignore my artistic side. I took AP Studio Art in high school, and my entire concentration was self-portraits reflecting on my journey with vitiligo. Vitiligo makes my immune system think my pigment cells are foreign objects, so it attacks them. It started with just a spot on my forehead when I was 12. When you’re in middle school you’re so impressionable and self-conscious, and even though my spots weren’t big at that point, I used Estée Lauder Double Wear Foundation to cover them up. Now I don’t wear foundation—all those bad feelings about my skin kind of dissipated with age, and the self-portraits helped me see myself differently. That’s why I gravitated towards Glossier, actually. It was the first brand that made me feel like I could have fun with makeup without using it as a mask.

I’m Korean, and ever since I was little my mom really instilled the importance of skincare in me. She uses a lot of Clinique, so that’s what I use too. When I wake up I wash my face with the Clinique All About Clean foam cleanser. I use witch hazel toner after that, and then the Clinique Dramatically Different moisturizer gel. It’s really important for me to protect my skin from the sun since I don’t have natural pigment to protect it, so I wear sunscreen every day. I love Supergoop—I either use their Unseen Sunscreen, which is really nice under makeup, or the Everyday Sunscreen. I put Futuredew on the high points of my face, and that’s kind of it.

Usually I would put on a little bit of makeup to go to my classes, but I don’t put on makeup to take a Zoom class in my bed. Now, makeup is just a fun thing to do when we’re bored in the dorms. Last year, when we would go out, I would do full glam on the eyes with the Sultry palette from Anastasia Beverly Hills, Roller Lash by Benefit, Haloscope highlighter, and Fenty lip gloss. We used to play throwback 2000s songs when we were getting ready, but now we just play them to make ourselves feel a little bit better. I love to dance. In high school I did hip hop, and I’ve been doing modern and ballet since I was little. Isadora Duncan was one of the pioneers of modern dance, and the dances are based on Greek mythology. We used to wear tunics and dance barefoot on the Central Park lawn—such a weird childhood memory. My body is so expressive when I dance, but even when I’m not dancing, everywhere I go people stare. I like how it’s expressive that way too."

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Giulia Marsico

Social Media from Naples, Florida

"If you’re growing up in a small town, you might only see one version of beauty. But when you go onto social media, you're able to see so much more representation—I've always had a thicker body, and I didn't necessarily feel comfortable with that until Instagram. I started to find all these women who were proud of their big boobs and stretch marks and hip dips, and I sort of hopped on that wave of body positivity. At the same time, social media encourages this weird herd mentality, and you kind of have to play by the platform’s rules. My personal account has evolved into a place where I can get inspiration, because I think it’s way more interesting to look at than just photos of myself. I love to try and make a parallel between my photos and pieces of art, and mirror certain poses in statues and paintings.

My skin got really upset when quarantine happened. I was back in Florida, exercising every day—the last time I ran this much was in high school—and I just could not find products that made my skin feel good. I thought maybe I should try going back to this Acne Free Cleanser with Benzoyl Peroxide that worked for me when I was a teenager, and I literally have not gotten a single zit since I started using it. It’s insane. The toner I use is Biologique Lotion P50. I use two moisturizers, Creme Dermopurifiante and Emulsion Originelle Regenerante, plus this Phyto 52 firming lotion from Yon-ka Paris, which feels nice and minty, on my neck. And I also use two under eye creams: the Dr. Loretta Eye Gel and Beautycounter Countertime on top. Then I use Hawthorne sunscreen.

My mom is a hairstylist, so when I was younger I loved to experiment with my hair. I went platinum, I went purple, blue, pink…I did everything, and I’m glad I did, but I recently chopped my hair off and that I straight up hated. It used to be past my boobs, and I cut it up to my chin—so, it’s over 11 inches shorter. Everyone else loves it, but my hair is so big that the amount of work I have to do to make it look good is crazy. The stylist thinned it out four times, and I have to apply so many products and essentially grease my hair to make it stay down. I much prefer to just be able to fix my bangs and go.

I have a bunch of body lotions that I love. The one I use the most is the Glow Butter from this really small brand called Bohème Luxe. It smells so addicting, and it’s really great to put on my chest area because it’s pretty thick. I also love the Body Hero dry oil, which looks so dewy and beautiful on my legs. And on my arms, I’ve been using the Nécessaire body lotion. It has a ton of vitamins in it, which really steps up my game."

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Sophie Helf

Computer Programmer and Writer from San Francisco, California

"I went to college for graphic design, but when I started building my own website I realized I actually liked that a lot more. I went to a coding boot camp five days a week for 15 weeks, which was very intense but ultimately worth it, because now I’m a software developer. Writing is a completely separate thing I do—I like having two very contrasting practices. I write a lot about disability. I was in a pretty serious accident about three years ago and I have prosthetic legs now, which still feels kind of surreal. I’m very much still processing, so I’m really curious to see how my thoughts will change five years down the line.

I have fancy legs. They have flexible ankles and they take two seconds to put on in the morning—a lot of people can’t even tell I have prosthetics. Actually, I recently got rose gold covers for them, which I'm obsessed with. I figured if I was going to wear dresses in the summer I wanted my legs to look good. It’s funny because, growing up, I struggled a lot with what I looked like. Now I feel more powerful—my friends say things like, ‘You’re a little obsessed with yourself,’ and I am. I think I’m hot shit. Just because I have prosthetic legs doesn’t mean I can’t be a little vain. The disability doesn’t change that, you know?

I can be very messy and disorganized, so I love that I stick to my skincare routine. In the mornings I use Pixi Rose Cream Cleanser, alcohol-free witch hazel toner, and then some niacinamide from The Ordinary. I tend to get very rosy cheeked, and I noticed that stuff really helps with some of the redness. It’s pretty affordable, and it’s worked the best out of a couple different niacinamide serums I’ve tried. To finish I like the basic, plain moisturizer from Kiehl’s and then some Neutrogena sunscreen. I don’t wear makeup because I really love when you can see my freckles. Actually, when everyone was using that freckle filter on Instagram I was like, ‘Oh man, that’s my look!’

I walk at least 13,000 steps a day. I literally wrote my college dissertation on the concept of walking in a city—it’s my favorite thing. I was in a wheelchair for six months, and learning to walk again was so much effort. Now, I love how fast I can walk. Even if it's just down the street to the bodega, the freedom to go for a walk is great."

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Tyrell Hampton

Photographer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

"The first fashion show I snuck into was Alexander Wang in 2016. I remember seeing all these celebrities I was obsessed with and feeling like a kid in a candy store—I took pictures of everything. It was all happening so fast, I was just trying to get in and get out, and I guess because of that my photos had this quirky look. Eventually, people started asking me to come to shows or parties to shoot. I want to make images that make me feel the way I do when I watch movement. Growing up, my dream was to dance for Janet Jackson—everyone knew you either danced for Britney, Janet, or Madonna because they hired the best dancers. Dance made me see every body as beautiful. There were plus sized women who could jump higher and turn faster than I could—with dance, it’s more about the passion.

My mom told me that if I ever touched my brows she’d kill me, so I've never touched them. I do trim my mustache because it’s as thick as my eyebrows, if I don’t trim it I’d have what’s known as a porn ‘stache. I had cornrows during quarantine, but braids are a lot of maintenance—they’re so tight, they itch, and you can’t really itch your head because it messes up the braids. Usually I keep my hair short, like this. I’m actually planning on going pink in a couple of weeks.

I got braces last year because my baby teeth fell out kind of late. I'm dying to get them off so I can eat candy, but everyone wants me to keep them just for the look. Sometimes I get a rainbow of rubber bands, but I also found these heart-shaped rubber bands on Instagram for next time. I use Glossier skincare whenever I go to LA or Paris, because it’s the perfect travel-sized stuff, but when I’m home I use Cetaphil cleanser and Axe body wash in the shower—I’m such a boy sometimes that it boggles my mind. I don’t wear makeup because I always have a little shine on my nose, forehead, and cheeks, and if I don’t see it in photos, I think I look weird. That’s just me.

There aren’t any studios open right now, so I’ve been stretching and moving around at home. Dance Theatre of Harlem has some videos on YouTube I’ll follow along with, but usually I'll just put on music—right now I’m obsessed with this jazz artist Chick Corea—and do some splits and lunges. It's good to practice my flexibility just to keep up that muscle memory. I can still hold my foot to my head!"