EXCLUSIVE: How one Palestinian activist is using make up to raise awareness of global crises

She's only 24 years old, but Rand Jarallah has already teamed up with the United Nations Population Fund to use beauty as a means of campaigning for women's rights

Ahead of the world’s inaugural Refugee Summit on the 19th September, Palestinian make up artist Rand Jarallah has kick-started a campaign to use cosmetics as a means of raising awareness of the global crises facing women.

Using make up to depict flooding, droughts and earthquakes, the 24-year-old is keen to change the way that we talk about beauty – and use it as a power for good. Called #7DaysOfMakeUp, the campaign will see Rand share imagery from her portfolio, in a bid to raise awareness of the need for women and girls to get access to sexual and reproductive health services during conflicts, natural disasters and other international emergencies.

‘I absolutely love make up,’ Rand tells Marie Claire. ‘For me, it’s a form of art. But I do find that lots of people question my feminism because of it – they believe that make up is a sort of suppressor, which disempowers women. But I want to challenge that idea, and show everyone what I can do with it to make it powerful instead.’

‘I’ve always been an activist and an artist – when I was at primary school, I remember insisting upon writing my mum’s maiden name next to my dad’s surname because it didn’t seem fair that I only took my father’s name when they were both my parents. But it never occurred to me to combine my two passions until I came across Hallowe’en-style costume make up a couple of years ago. I decided to try a look that involved bruises all over my face – and used the resulting look to raise awareness of Gender-Based Violence. I posted the results on my social media accounts, and the responses blew me away.’

‘My parents have always been advocates for justice,’ says Rand. ‘My three siblings and I were brought up to volunteer, and I grew up surrounded by summer camps, first aid training, human rights courses and workshops on sexual health. My mum used to take me along to visit refugee camps with her, and when I was 18, I was able to attend a Global Youth Coalition on the Middle East and North Africa about population and development. Until then, I didn’t really understand how all of that could affect me, but that conference taught me so much.’

‘Growing up as a woman in a world that bombards you with messages of a patriarchal nature, where women are constantly objectified, it’s hard not to objectify yourself at the same time,’ she adds. ‘I used to use so many tools to cover up my insecurities – one of which was make up. It took me a while to overcome these insecurities and challenge this culture, and today I use make up to bring awareness to the issues I’m passionate about instead.’

‘I love researching my looks, and thinking about what issues I’d like to confront with my make up artistry,’ she says, adding that she’s recently left her home in Jerusalem for New York, in order to complete the Young Innovators Fellowship Programme with the United Nations Population Fund.

‘Generally, ideas start rushing around my head while certain quotes or words create images in my brain. I write my ideas down and start to imagine the different colours and their placement on my face. Creating a look can take between one and a half hours to five or more hours, depending on its complexity. But it’s worth it. These issues are too important not to spend time on.’

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