"I would dream about what it would be like to go out and live life as a woman. I would sit for hours in my bed just imagining. I didn’t care if I was cleaning toilets. If I was doing it as a woman, I’d be happy," transgender model Andreja Pejic said to a group of beauty editors gathered at Cedar Lake in New York City on Wednesday evening. Pejic, who -- along with actress Jamie Chung --just landed a contract with Make Up For Ever, probably doesn't need to worry about scrubbing toilets anytime soon.
The visual campaign, which officially launches July 16, includes an offering of two limited edition eye shadow palettes ($48 each) curated by Pejic and Chung respectively, as well as a social media challenge component. Fittingly, the tagline is: "Be Bold. Be Unexpected. Be You." "I think it’s about recognizing that the world is a diverse place. And there is no reason beauty campaigns and the beauty industry shouldn’t reflect that," Pejic said at the presentation. "The more people that hear these stories, the more awareness there is. I think it can break a lot of stereotypes."
After the presentation, Pejic chatted with Fashionista about her long history with makeup, how the fashion industry has reacted to her since her transition, and, of course, Caitlyn Jenner.
Pejic doesn't necessarily think Jenner needs much help in the beauty department. "I think she’s doing a pretty good job. I think she looks beautiful," she said. But she was willing to offer a bit of advice to Jenner. "You’re going to make mistakes. It’s all fun, it’s part of being a girl and trying new things. I’ve certainly made plenty of mistakes!" Like what? "Before I really learned how to sculpt my eyes I would go a bit too crazy with the eyeliner or I would try and create a smoky look but it wouldn't have any dimension and it would be too high up," she said. "And I would sometimes do this really strong contour, but with me it was a bit much because I already have defined cheeks. It’s been a learning process."
The process started when Pejic was three or four years old, watching his mom put her makeup on. "I was fascinated by blush and lipstick and it was something really forbidden. And I think it is for a lot of girls," she said. "When you’re young, [makeup] signifies growing up and maturity." Her first real makeup experimentation included an emo phase, featuring lots of eyeliner and too-pale foundation. "That was my first experimentation phase and my first showing of my feminine nature and feminine characteristics," she said.
Professional modeling helped take Pejic's makeup skills to the next level. For example, she learned that contouring isn't just for creating sharp cheekbones. Instead of using bronzer, use two different foundation shades. "It creates a more natural look. It’s a little bit softer. I have quite strong features so I do like to use contouring to soften them up a little bit," she said.
Then there are her eyebrows, which are really perfect. She credits monthly visits with her brow guru, Sebastian (yes, one name only), in New York City for the shape. "I like a bushy look," she said. (Don't we all!)
Pejic is at a critical point in her career. She told Vogue in April that one agent said to her, "It's better to be androgynous than a tranny." She was unwilling to give more details, preferring to save those stories for her documentary, which she anticipates will be released in 2016. "There were many trials and tribulations, but I’m standing here and I have a cosmetics contract and there are some really exciting things coming out which I can’t talk about," she said. "They told me I wouldn't have a future after I transitioned or that trans women can’t be respected as models. I feel like I've proven those people wrong."