Male student, hard of hearing, finds confidence in lipstick: 'I have no hesitation when I'm in makeup'

Accessible Beauty is a mini-series of profiles that Yahoo Lifestyle is running the week of Dec. 3, in the spirit of the International Day of Persons With Disabilities, founded by the United Nations. The series focuses on six empowered individuals, and today, we highlight one of them, Louis Jenson, 22, a marketing student and beauty blogger who is hard of hearing.

How he got into beauty blogging: Anthony Bizarro was a drag queen at our school who would perform at a local gay club. I would be so wowed by it. I reached out to him and was like, “Do you think I could sit in your room one day while you do your makeup, and just watch you do it?” He said yes, so I watched him and we chatted, and I did my makeup along with him.

I looked like a mess, but I think it really just got me comfortable with the idea. … Now I have no hesitation when I’m in makeup; I have a whole other personality — robust and loud. … I only have two videos on YouTube, but I’ve been getting ready to push out more that are completely accessible. I’m working with a company to make sure they’re captioned correctly. Within the actual description bar, I’m going to make sure that everything used is listed, because we also have a lot of deaf-blind students at my school, and they have software that can help them understand what is being used.

On not identifying as deaf: Medically speaking, I’m deaf. But culturally speaking, I would say I’m hard of hearing, because I am capable of hearing things [because of cochlear implants I got as an infant]. I was never introduced to the deaf community until I got to college, the Rochester Institute of Technology, where they have the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, and found over 1,000 deaf and hard-of-hearing students. It was the first time I’d ever seen that many people like that, and it was culture shock for me!

On his queer identity: I initially referred to myself as being gay, but … I just feel like, as a human, I can’t really be put into a box that clearly. … I think that me being hard of hearing while growing up really helped me build up an armor for when I needed to come out about being queer. My gender is very fluid at times — sometimes I’ll show up to class in a full face of makeup; other times I’m just regular me. When I was the director of [a deaf student] modeling competition, I wore makeup and heels, because I was trying to encourage the models to step out of their own comfort zones. And the guys started showing up to shoots with flowers in their hair! One girl showed up to a shoot completely nude, with her body painted, which is not something I would’ve expected from her.

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