Feeling like Paloma.

Paloma Elsesser

On makeup, modeling, and loyalty

I was born in London and raised in L.A. by hippie parents. I moved to New York to go to college; I wanted to be a writer. A woman I knew who was working at Pop magazine introduced me to the world of plus-size modeling—she told me there were things happening [in the industry]. Growing up, I was never thin. I was never anything, like, prescriptively beautiful that I understood. Everyone was always like, “Oh, the face!” So when she said that to me, I was like, “I’m down to make a buck, I’m down to do this.”

I went to clown camp. That’s where I learned to really paint my face. The funny part is, my mom sent me there to get grounded—you sleep in teepees—so I fought the whole 10-hour drive to Northern California. I was like, “I’m not going.” And [my mom] said, “Okay. You’re gonna go for five days and if you really hate it, you’ll leave.” I stayed for two weeks.

“There were points in which I was quite simple with [my style], because I felt like I didn’t have access to a lot of the clothes I wanted to wear.”

Paloma recommends

“My favorite Glossier product is the rich moisturizer—best scent, perfect texture. It’s decadent but feasible so I smear it on my face and hands, constantly.”

There were points in which I was quite simple with [my style], because I felt like I didn’t have access to a lot of the clothes I wanted to wear. I would use makeup as an expression. Now that I look back at it, it wasn’t that great. I was doing, like, a full eye but with no other makeup. I didn’t understand eyebrows, and I didn’t even know what an eyelash curler was until I started modeling..

“It’s not about being excessive or being covered up. Sometimes, I’ll feel my best brushing my eyebrows up and curling my lashes, and sometimes, I love a full beat.”

Today, it’s really peeled back, and it’s just a way to armor myself in the world and feel my best. It’s not about being excessive or being covered up. Sometimes, I’ll feel my best brushing my eyebrows up and curling my lashes, and sometimes, I love a full beat.

I’m really big on loyalty and I feel like, on a foundational level, Glossier was one of the first brands to believe in me for who I was. Just like, “Oh you’re beautiful. You’re cool. You’re smart. You’re rad. You’re in our community,” and feeling nurtured in that has been really beautiful. To grow with them as a company, because I’ve grown as well. [Five years ago] I was like, “What is this? What is Glossi-air?”

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