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Finding Your Inner Giraffe


When you think "exotic," a lot of things come to mind-a location, an Outfit that is One Of the kind, Or dining in a restaurant on exquisite dishes different from what we eat on a daily basis. But the most important of all is the beauty that we see in people.

As a young girl growing up in Africa, I would hear people talk about "exotic" girls or women. What distinguished them from everybody else was not only beauty, but also their elegance. Many times this beauty was compared to the giraffes, because when you watch giraffes walking in their natural surrounding, such as the Serengeti Plains of Tanzania, you truly can appreciate the beauty and sensuality that they exude.

One of my fatherís aunties was a very tall woman who had a very long neck and very structured facial features. When she walked by, people would stop and gaze. Her tall well-proportioned body and gorgeous face with beautiful large eyes earned her the nickname "Twiga," which means "giraffe" in Swahili. As she entered a room she towered above people like the snow on Mount Kilimanjaro, always upright with her head and shoulder up.

Some of the tribes in Tanzania tattooed and pierced themselves so they could look unique and stand out. In every tribe there were different customs - they chose to do this because they wanted to stand out and show that beauty. Most of these elegant, beautiful women were treated as princesses.

When we look at magazines here in the US, we see models and actresses such as Halle Berry, Iman, Uma Thurman, and Lucy Liu (to name a few) who truly have showed us how exotic women should look. Their long necks, full mouths, high cheek bones and great skin are things that they are blessed with, but what stands is what out are their elegance, grace and poise. That is what distinguishes them from a lot of other beautiful people in the industry. These women carry off their looks with elegance, grace and style.

Our great nation is truely a melting pot; the mixture of different backgrounds provides so much beauty around us - and lots of exotic ones as well. When I do makeup application on clients who are from different backgrounds, I am always amazed, even after 25 years in the business, how I can play up each individual face, starting from the eye makeup to the contour of the cheeks to created high cheek bones, which helps me finish the look. Every face is a canvas and unique.

The face is so unique that before you tackle anybodyís makeup application, you have to look at the shape and find out the "middle core." If you are working with a round face, then you want to create an illusion that takes the eye up and down to help the face look long and slimmer. How you shade the eyes and cheekbones will also play an important role in slimming the face. The brow shape will be another key in helping your illusion as well.

The opposite applies when you are working with a long face. The key here is to shorten or even widen it; so how and where you shade or contour the face helps you to create that illusion. If someone has a long face and small eyes, you want to open up their face and make it look wider, so when you create your illusion, you want the eye of an observer to go from side to side.

These tips help a lot when we want to create an exotic look. Often when we are at fashion shoot, the art director and the photographer will guide the makeup artist about how exotic the look should be. Once wardrobe is chosen, it is up to the artist to create the look that is desired. It always starts with eye makeup. Whether you choose to go with a smoky look, or you end up choosing a vintage look, lipstick and hairstyles are other factors that will help to put the whole look together.

But elegant posture and movement, head held high like the giraffe - those are illusions we canít create. Those come from inner beauty and confidence manifesting itself without makeup.