Success stories: 10 amazing makeovers you need to see
Some makeovers rely on major drama: Mousy woman turned bombshell. But what happens when the women's "before" stories are already inspiring-and the goal is to help them embark on new careers? Allure's makeovers of women from Year Up, a program that provides disadvantaged 18- to 24-year-olds with job skills, classes, and internships, gave 10 young women office-appropriate looks that suited their real lives. Thanks to the help of Amoy Pitters of Amoy Couture Hair in New York City and makeup artist Makky P., the results are a total success-much like the women themselves.
BEFOREFields, an intern at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center's IT department, discovered Year Up shortly after taking a break from college. At the time, both her stepfather and grandmother had been diagnosed with cancer, and she decided to help care for her family. Four months later, when a neighbor told her about the program, Fields realized it could be her chance to get back on track: "I had been a lazy student, but knowing they could kick you out if you didn't do the work motivated me."
AFTERYou would never know it from this picture, but Fields, 22, hadn't worn a dress in four years. After zipping this one up, she says, "To actually wear a dress that looks good feels awesome." So did the day's beauty moments: "I really like the hair length," she says. "I feel different, but a good different." Now she's confident about landing a full-time job. "After today, I see I don't always have to dress down. I'm usually behind the scenes, but now I can actually put myself out there."
BEFOREIn 2011, Rosa left college to care for her grandmother. "My mom had to work, and my grandmother was in her 70s taking care of my three little brothers. She was too old for that," she says. After two years, Rosa, 21, realized, "I wanted to become a mature adult and be someone my family could look up to." Now she's surprised by how much she enjoys her internship at Deutsche Bank. "Parts of it were completely off my track, but I'm so glad I'm doing it," she says.
AFTERRosa was nervous about getting hair extensions, but after four hours in the hairstylist's chair, she was thrilled with her collarbone-skimming style and blunt bangs. "I love it. It feels natural," she says. Choosing the bold fuchsia lipstick was a breeze. "If it's something I don't usually see people wearing, I'm all for it," says Rosa. "I love that I got to put my own whimsical twist on the makeup." She was surprised at how powerful new hair and makeup can be. "My self-esteem has shot through the roof," she says. "If you told me I was ugly, I'd tell you you're wrong, because I know I look fantastic."
BEFOREOverton's life took a new direction four years ago: She gave birth to her son, left college, and began working full time at a restaurant. "It was a setback, but it definitely did not stop me," she says. Last year, a cousin told her about Year Up, and she was intrigued. "I loved working at Red Lobster—it was my first job, and I met my fiancé there—but I was ready to grow," she says. "Year Up was my way out of old habits."
AFTEROverton, 24, is thrilled with her new short haircut. "I've always been a confident woman, but this makeover makes me look at myself completely differently," she says. She also loves the vibrant color of the dress: "I never thought blue was my color, but now I know it is!" She's currently an intern at FTI Consulting, a business-advising firm, and a passionate writer and singer. She dreams of a career in the entertainment industry. "I've been writing songs since I was nine. I hope someone will say, 'I like her. I need her. She's a go-getter.'"
BEFORENow chatty and outgoing, Garces quit college when ADHD and crippling anxiety left her unable to go to class. "I was petrified that people were judging me," she says. She took a medical leave and began therapy, where she was diagnosed with social anxiety. "It was the biggest revelation when I finally got help, and Year Up increased my confidence even more. I've come so far from where I was," says Garces, 21, who's an intern in risk operations and control at Citigroup.
AFTERAlthough her anxiety is much improved, Garces still doesn't exactly crave the limelight, but she posed for these photographs because she knew it was an opportunity she couldn't miss. After a four-inch haircut and the addition of long layers, she says, "I love my hair. And this dress is perfect. It's simple but different from anything I have in my wardrobe." But the greatest impact of the makeover is invisible. "Maybe other people will see me as more professional, but the biggest thing is how it makes me feel. When you're happy, it reflects in your work."
BEFOREEspinal has been challenging herself since she was 15, when her father went to jail and she stepped in to help her mother raise her younger brother. She tried college twice, including after her son was born a year and a half ago. "I didn't have the support I needed as a new mom," she says. Now, Espinal wouldn't trade her Year Up experience for anything. "I needed something different. I needed something positive. Even after the first day of Year Up, I was actually smiling at people on the subway," she says.
AFTEREspinal welcomed the time-saving tips she learned from her makeover. "I used to always use a flatiron, but the stylist showed me how to blow-dry my hair so I don't need it." Swapping her usual uniform of black for a burgundy dress had major payoffs. "It's so different from what I usually wear, but it's my favorite part," says Espinal, 23, who is excited to reveal her new look at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, where she's a technical intern. "Now I feel like I fit in with my work environment," she says.
BEFORE"You only get one chance to make a first impression, and you do get judged on how you look," says Xrist. The former nursing student entered Year Up because she'd had difficulty finding a job. "It seemed like Year Up would challenge and push me, and it definitely did," says the Citigroup intern. Her next goal: getting a degree in psychology. "Ever since I was little, I've been fascinated by how the human mind works."
AFTERThe 23-year-old seized this opportunity to look more put together at her internship. "I've been wanting to try red lips, but I could not find a color that looked good with my skin tone," she says. "I like that this one is blood red and not at all orange or pink." She also loves her new spiral curls, although she was apprehensive at first. "I was like, 'I'm going to look crazy,' but I like them." Lipstick and curling irons aside, the mother of two young girls is most impressed by how the makeover makes her feel. "It used to be that when I got frustrated, I would tend to give up, but today feels like the culmination of a lot of hard work," says Xrist. "Now I know that if I do keep going, I can reach my goals."
BEFOREThompkins applied to Year Up during a particularly overwhelming period in her life: She was working part time at a boutique while taking classes at City College when she discovered she was pregnant. She dropped her classes but knew she didn't want to be in retail forever. Even though interning full time means she doesn't get to spend as much time with her daughter as she'd like, Thompkins believes the sacrifice will eventually pay off. "It's hard being away from her so much, but I hope it means that when she's older, I'll be there more."
AFTERHer favorite part of the makeover was her sleek, layered hairstyle, complete with subtly highlighted extensions. "I wanted more pizzazz because I'm always really conservative," says the JPMorgan Chase intern. "Now, even though I know I'm the same person, I think I'll be perceived differently: as a professional."
BEFOREWhen Bienaime's mother was diagnosed with diabetes, the 21-year-old had to grow up fast. "I thought I would be able to go to college, but I wanted to be able to take care of my mom the way she's taken care of me all my life," she says. So Bienaime applied to Year Up to gain work experience while earning college credits. "It was a way to do two things at once," she says.
AFTERFor Bienaime, going from barefaced to made up was a shock. "I don't wear makeup, ever," she says. "But I love it. That and the hair and the dress. I love it all." She watched the makeup artist carefully so she could replicate the look at home. "I didn't really think I would like the makeover this much or see this big of a difference," she says. "I knew I was getting it, but now it feels completely different."
BEFOREThe 20-year-old had planned to go to college but made the difficult decision to defer when a financial aid mix up meant she would have to take out substantial student loans. "I didn't want to have that debt hanging over me the rest of my life," she says. She worked a series of "minimum wage, dead-end, stressful jobs" before applying to Year Up. And now, she says, "I still can't believe that after a year of working in retail for $7.25 an hour, I'm an intern at Google."
AFTERFinding the perfect hair color took a little trial and error—the hairstylist dyed her hair three different times to find the right shade of auburn. "I was a little discouraged, but once they got it, I loved it," says Konkowski. And because she typically doesn't wear makeup, she appreciated makeup artist's light touch, which left her looking pulled together but not overdone. "I feel really pretty," says Konkowski. "I'll be applying to jobs soon, and I think this will set me apart."
BEFOREAlthough she didn't know it at the time, Lloyd's journey toward Year Up began after she gave birth to her daughter, Chloe, two years ago—and soon after, lost her job. While she was unemployed and unsure where to turn, her sister told her about the organization. "I've always been driven. I've always wanted to be successful," says Lloyd, who is now an information technology intern at CompuCom.
AFTERAs soon as she slipped on the dress, she knew it was the one. "It was like, 'Yes, yes, yes, that's it!'" she says. "It fit so perfectly. It made me feel like a superstar." And she hopes to be able to replicate the makeup, thanks to some tips from the makeup artist. "I have acne, but the makeup artist made it totally invisible. It looks natural and beautiful," she says. When the Year Up program ends, Lloyd plans to go back to school to get her certification in information technology.
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