For Amanda Ramirez, makeup is both allure and ammunition.
The Compton, Calif.-based makeup artist and Instagram personality is also a cancer warrior. In August of 2016, when Ramirez’s fierce highlight, bold lips and vicious estilo were turning her into a social media celebrity, she learned that she had Stage 3 Hodgkin's lymphoma.
The 22-year-old Latina, a woman of faith, ferociousness and flair, wasn’t going to let the diagnosis stop her from feeling and living beautifully. After all, her flourishing confidence was years in the making.
"I got bullied my whole life for being bigger and that didn't do anything except for making me realize, 'it's okay to be who you are,'” she told NBC News. “It took me so long to get to this point. When I had cancer, I said, 'I'm not going to let this ruin all these years of allowing myself to love myself."
For Ramirez, cosmetics is self-care. She carries her makeup bag, with essentials like her Maybelline primer, NYX matte foundation, Laura Mercier setting powder, bronzer, concealer and fake lashes, everywhere she goes, and never heads to chemotherapy without a beat face.
"When I do my makeup, it makes me feel happy and it gives me a reason to not worry. I can't blend away the cancer, but I can blend away the contour," she said.
With more than 31 thousand followers on Instagram, Ramirez’s beauty techniques and positive attitude are an inspiration to all – and not only because the glam fighter is battling the disease.
Ramirez is also a passionate advocate for women of color, fat acceptance, self-love and bodily autonomy. Among photos of the Cali mami slaying in her bathing suit or posing for shoots with floral and graffiti backdrops are quotes about being “fat, pretty and lit” and “uplifting fellow women.” Back in October, she attended the Amber Rose SlutWalk, donned in a red bandana, black jumpsuit, puckered brown lips and a poster that read, "my body, my rules."
Among her goals: showing up for Black and brown women of size by creating images where they see themselves fly AF and in control.
"I'm very about women of color because we don't get represented in the beauty industry or in the industry in general. And if we are, it's because we're lighter or we look a certain way. The novelas we have, it's always lighter girls with green eyes and blonde hair; it's colorism at its finest,” she said.
Ramirez knows that confidence is a weapon, one she uses against body-shamers and cancer alike.
“It’s important to me, because loving yourself is important — it’s vital to your well-being,” she told Yahoo! Beauty.