Bobbi Brown’s Open Letter to the Women of GWF

Bobbi Brown is an internationally acclaimed make-up artist and businesswoman who has visited the Good Work Foundation (GWF). As we celebrate a month of GWF women – teachers, facilitators and students – we asked Bobbi what message she had for the women and girls of South Africa. And here is her powerful answer:

“I wish that as a young girl, I had understood that there is more than one way to be pretty, and more than one way to be smart. That is why I created a brand that celebrates all women and was built on my personal beauty philosophy: the secret to true beauty is simply to be who you are.

I struggled with self-acceptance as a teenager. I was short and had dark hair, while all the popular actresses and models at the time were tall and blonde. Traditional school subjects didn’t come naturally to me. I had to work really hard. The good news is that, with time, I found different role models and learned to appreciate and embrace my unique beauty. I also found a subject – makeup – that I loved and did come easily to me. So I finally learned to accept, and love, what made me unique. Self-acceptance to me is the key to looking pretty – if you are happy being who you are, you will look your prettiest.

I have also seen throughout the years how education can transform a woman. I always say that I would have been a teacher if not a makeup artist. My wish for all women and girls is to spend your time trying to learn. It is why I launched The Pretty Powerful Campaign for Women & Girls. My brand’s philanthropic mission is to support organizations that help empower women through job skills training and girls through continued education. Access to education doesn’t come easy to everyone, so I have recently partnered with an organization that is helping to remove these barriers to education that so many women face because education is key to transforming yourself and the communities around you. I realized that later in life.  Sticking with school wasn’t easy for me, but it eventually helped me to discover a theatrical makeup program at a college that gave me the tools and knowledge I used to launch my company. I use that knowledge every day.

So, don’t spend your time looking at unrealistic images of models and actresses in magazine ads. Spend your time reading the articles next to them about how other women and girls are changing the world.  Don’t spend time staring in the mirror and questioning yourself. Don’t pick apart the things you don’t like about yourself. Instead, celebrate and enhance the things you love about yourself.

These things will make you smart, and if there is anything I have learned in the 20-plus years I have been in the makeup industry, it is that a smart girl is confident, and confident girls are pretty and powerful. And when you get a group of pretty powerful girls together, they’re unstoppable.



The beautiful young girls of Madlala Digital Learning Centre with make-up by Bobbi Brown, flown all the way from New York, especially for them.

The beautiful young girls of Madlala Digital Learning Centre with make-up by Bobbi Brown, flown all the way from New York, especially for them.