Ben, a one-time ‘Face of’ Mac Cosmetics, is passionate about helping women in need. He volunteers his time to conduct make-up workshops.
My friend Sally volunteered at Fitted for Work and liked it a lot. I think of myself as a feminist in some weird form. Women have always been great to me and that’s why I wanted to get involved.
I’d been looking for a not-for-profit for a while and nothing felt right. I didn’t think I would have been able to volunteer because I’m male and I know that all the boutique people are female. Over time, the more Sally spoke about the Fitted for Work, I was like this place sounds amazing.
I knew that I would be able to offer a lot. I also thought that if there were women that had been in bad situations, that some may have had a male involved, that this would be the perfect place to have a male be kind and good to them and give them something great.
I remember on the first day I was a bit nervous. I hadn’t seen the place, I knew nothing. I just came in blind and that was great. My anxiety was just about doing something new. I was very conscious not to say or do anything that might have been taken the wrong way. After the first go, it was easy.
I think the women wanting to learn and almost craving to better themselves is what I love in life. I believe that everyone can be happy. Everyone has a lot more power than they believe that they have. And I believe in some weird roundabout way that I can help them find that, that’s sort of what my life goal is.
When it comes to my attitude, the makeup is almost secondary, because a lot of the women don’t even know what foundation is. They’ve never used it. So you have to be very minimal and then the rest of the time is trying to get them talking.[Clients] come in and usually at the start everyone is very shy and nervous, and there is a table with mirrors. I never stand. I sit down with them because I don’t want it to be like I’m the one who is in charge; I try to make it a group thing.
I start by introducing myself with three things: my name is Ben, here’s something I’ve achieved that I am proud of, and a feature on my face that I love when I look in the mirror. Then we just go through simple full-face for an interview. And then if there is time in the end, I teach them other little things they might want to know.
By the time they leave, they can make themselves up for an interview. I do half the face on someone to show the class. And then she does the other eye. And then for the next step I’ll choose someone else, and do half, so that everyone has had a go and that most of the makeup is done by them anyway.
The main feedback I get is that they are all very comfortable and feel uplifted by the end which is great. One woman said that she was really comfortable having a male, which was good for me because that was my main concern.
After the first session, I could see myself volunteering here long term. As soon as the women left the room, I burst into tears. Just because I just was shocked by how optimistic they were. After the first session it made me change my entire outlook on life, I was elated when I left here, smiling the whole way home.
I’ve started doing make-up for free for people in the city, I set my chair up and it’s called ‘Random Acts of Make-up’. That’s from working here, I just felt so good giving and not receiving anything in return.
I guess from growing up, women have always been my friend. I have experienced a lot of torment and bullying from men. I wasn’t joking when I said I was a feminist because women have always been there for me. A lot of family and friends have gone through a lot of awful stuff and it does seem different for women. I don’t know why but it seems that women are put second to men. I don’t know if I should say that but in my experience that’s how it seems. So I’ve always wanted to give back, so that’s why I’m here.
I think that the people [at Fitted for Work] are the real heroes that should be celebrated in the media. My major goal is to change the world and I get laughed at all the time. I think that Fitted for Work is going to get bigger and I want to be part of it.
On his experience of being the Face of Mac Cosmetics…
There was a competition held that I entered, it was intimidating just even to put yourself out there. There were 100,000 people worldwide and I was just one of six chosen. And for the two months, I just kept telling myself that I had it. I meditated on it nearly every single day, it became my obsession. I was going to win and I won, just staying in that mindset. And this isn’t the first time I’ve done this. I’ve had this track record of achieving things by staying focused on the end goal, and that I can do it. When I do it properly I’ve had 100 percent success rate in achieving my goals. So I would just like other people to know how to do that.[After his experience as the Face of Mac, Ben wants to continue a modelling career.] Yes, definitely, I want to do everything. I think people try and keep themselves in ‘I can only do this.’ I want to become a celebrity makeup artist, I want to model, I want to do fashion design. Why can’t you do it all?!