The Unexpected Way Women and Men Are Using Makeup to Memorialize Orlando’s Fallen


In the days after the Orlando, Florida, shooting, it is easy to feel helpless. But many are finding their own way to support and honor the 49 people who were shot and killed early Sunday. Some donated blood. Many rushed online to donate money to the victims. Others gathered in large groups for vigils, like in front of the Stonewall Inn in New York City, the U.S. Capitol and in the Soho neighborhood of London. A few got tattoos. 

Now, people are looking to makeup to show their support for not only the family members and friends of the fallen, but all members of the LGBTQ community. 

Over on Instagram, using hashtags like #Orlando, #LoveWins and #PrayForOrlando, women and men are painting their lips in a rainbow shade....

And their eyelids as well. 

"Those who know me understand why I've chosen to do this," Carrie Cain, who goes by the Instagram handle Pearlie.Pumpkin, wrote. "I have done this makeup in order to show my respect to those who were taken so brutally in #Orlando. I wanted to do this sooner but I just couldn't find the time but here it is! This violence needs to stop!"

In an interview with Mic, Cain further explained why she wanted to use makeup in particular to show her support. 

"I am bisexual myself and wanted to show my support for the LBGTQ community in the best way that I knew how. For me that way was through makeup," she said in an email. "Makeup is hugely popular on social media so it makes a massive impact when people come together to show their support in this way." 

On Instagram, plenty of men and women are also going for more extreme rainbow makeup looks, covering both their eyes and lips. 

"I debated for hours about where on my body to do the piece as well. I originally thought over my heart, but decided on my face, and particularly eyes and mouth," Vicki, a special effects makeup artist based in the U.K. who uses the Instagram handle @AThousandFacesMakeup, said in an interview. "I thought that physically these features are what we use to connect on a daily basis and would associate eyes with the ongoing upset and lips with affection and love."

"I would hope that those suffering in Orlando can see from this piece that the heart placed on my lips represents a love from a distance that I can show through a meaningful image."

Meanwhile, many others on Instagram looked to display the rainbows on their cheeks, while embracing a look akin to that sold out rainbow highlighter.

"I have been so overwhelmed that the makeup artist community have expressed their thoughts and love in different and unique ways to mark this incident," Vicki said. "Makeup is something a lot of us have in common whether for daily use or theatrical pleasure and it has been a joy to see other makeup artists' versions of this message — that these people are in our thoughts even though they are so far away. I think it brings everyone together as a united front and the use of social media encourages that too." 

What these pictures prove is that now, in this day and age, there is no one right way to mourn a tragedy. For some, it's donating blood. For these people, it's swiping on a bit of rainbow eyeshadow and taking a selfie. 

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