Foundation Matching

Tell us a story that directly or indirectly illustrates who you are.

Who was this strange woman and why did she know my name?

The muscles in my body turned rigid as she stooped low to embrace me. A familiar scent flooded my nostrils. "Mum?" I pulled away and, awe-stricken, scrutinized the face of the stranger for other proofs of her identity. It was the first time I had seen my mother wear a "full face" of makeup. I was averse to the seemingly deceptive, transformative qualities of makeup, but, as I grew older, I could not help admiring the dewy, poreless faces of the women I saw on television. My own face was a patchwork of visible pores, acne scars, and discoloured skin. I lamented my ugliness; my perceived inferiority; to my mother, but she did not allow me own any cosmetics until I turned seventeen.

On a characteristically warm autumn day in Tallahassee, Florida, I made my way to the cosmetics aisle in my local Walmart. I was confronted by rows of bottled chocolate. This was foundation: the assurance of (the illusion of) flawless skin. For over an hour, I stood swiping a small amount of each product across my wrist to find the perfect match for my skin colour. This one was too red: it hid the yellow undertones which were a proud marker of my membership of the Ibo tribe. That one had too much...

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