Based in Brooklyn, NY, Zenobia uses her platform as a model, DJ and performer to foster visibility for trans and gender non-conforming people. Calling attention to the magic that exists in trans femmes of color, Zenobia exclusively performs music by other femmes of color. Follow her@whoiszenobia
How has makeup helped or hindered your gender expression?
i grew up in a very gendered climate, as most of us do, existing in this heterocentric, transphobic, racist patriarchy. I consistently heard things like “you can't—that’s for girls”.
From a really early age I learned that the femme things I gravitated towards were inaccessible to me without resistance or conflict.
Makeup was a constant throughout my gender journey. Early on it served to make me feel happy and realized while alone in my room. Eventually makeup became a means by which to mask my own features and reassign ones that fit my gender. Now, as I move into a new chapter, I use as little makeup as possible—highlighting features I love, expressing celebration of my black trans face.
Who are your fashion/beauty icons? Whose look inspires you?
As far as my day-to-day looks, I definitely go for a Tracee Ellis Ross moment—glowy, natural, and hydrated-looking skin. For an amped up vibe I’m so inspired by the look my sisMaya Mones pulls—blush across the the bridge of the nose with freckles and highlighter.
When I’m going more glam, I always look to the effortlessly glam looks of the greats: Beyonce and Rihanna. Full but natural lashes, softly defined and reflective eye, and a saturated lip.
What is your earliest memory of using makeup?
I can distinctly remember being 5 or 6 years old, living in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, and using my brick red and brown colored pencils as lip liners. I panicked when they wouldn’t come off easily and stained my lips! It was quite a look for a little kid.
What are your go-to makeup products?
These days, since I’m feeling a lot more comfortable in my skin (literally), I’ve been a vitamin-E-oil-on-the-face, and a lip gloss-on-the-lip girl. Otherwise, I always go for a good concealer, warm toned highlighter, coral blush, freckles, and light mascara. When I’m performing I’m ALWAYS wearing Fluide glitter in Prism. It stays put when layered on top of a cream shadow and is really comfortable to wear.