Raisa Flowers is the MUA headlining body positivity
Revolutionising the ‘IT Girl’ is a watchlist of creatives and upcoming talent re-shaping the way we define cool. From makeup virtuosos to style beasts, these are the non-basic girls leading progressive conversations that redefine what it means to be a true influencer today.
If there’s one person that embodies the power of a decade, it’s Raisa Flowers. Prior to the model and muse gracing the SavagexFenty runway, she started the decade working at Urban Outfitters. Five years deep, after being let go from her role, Raisa decided to lean into her true passion — beauty.
Despite being introduced to make-up via childhood trips to MAC counters with her mum, Raisa navigated life on a path to fashion. Finally recognising her affinity to the field, she deciphered that it stemmed from her desire for freedom in self-expression.
Growing up in the small city of Mount Vernon, the self-proclaimed “club girl” understood the pressures of colouring outside the lines. But instead of falling into what society would prefer, she rebelled against her Catholic school training and converted her authenticity into advocacy/activism.
After being rejected from MAC stores six times, everything changed following a four-day training course that she spent with Priscilla Ono. “My passion for makeup really expanded. I was super inspired. Not just by her technique but because she was relatable to me.”
“She had blue hair at the time and is plus-size too, so it gave me the feeling that I could also show up and do these things.” Drawing from this, Raisa translated the same ethos into her work; creating a work style and team that creates space for people who usually feel marginalised.
“I model to change the normal of what it is to be a model. There are so many women who think they can’t do it because of society and whatnot, but it’s not true. We are all models in our own way” she expresses. Wavering between her trademark aesthetic and a new love of ethereal glam, Raisa inspires “people to be themselves a day at a time.”
“So many young girls – especially young Black girls – don’t get to see someone like me [represented in the media]. I’m alternative. I have piercings. I’m plus size. I’m Black and I love to be myself. If someone wants to cast me for something, I always think ‘what if a young girl who looks like me sees this?’.
“I always want it more for them and more for the ability to change people’s mindsets. Even if someone doesn’t like it, or doesn’t agree with it. They still see me doing it.” Championing this empowering outlook, Raisa’s success as a muse for Fenty, Gypsy Sport and Maison the Faux aligns with the brands’ reputation for being at the forefront of diversity and individuality.
Relating to the fierceness behind Storm’s looks, Raisa can frequently be caught wearing otherworldly contact lenses and a bold rotation of hairstyles. Seeing vanity more as a commitment to self-care than a taboo, she dedicates time to her aesthetic. From her thoughtful co-ordination of toe and nail polish to the days she started ends shopping for hair.
Standing strongly with her distinctly alternative style, she opts not to follow other artists on IG, allowing her work to remain as unfiltered as possible. This is evident through her daily efforts to challenge the standard of what it is to be beautiful without comparing herself (or her work) to others.
Albeit she does appreciate good artistry: she has previously listed Missy Elliot and Lil Kim – who were undeniably ahead of their time – as her beauty icons. “The hair was fire, the make-up was next level. The lip-lined, glossy lip looks were a staple for me” she marvelled. “The way Lil Kim wore her bottom lashes was like wow, so inspiring. They were pushing those looks to the next level”
Loved by the likes of Kelela and Junglepussy, Raisa has makes it a point of action to embody power and confidence whenever she enters a room. As opposed to feeling bound by the limitations set by race and other societal pressures, she works hard to create work that resonates with herself as a Black woman, on top of being an adequate representation of her values in the industry.
Through her work and radical authenticity, her bold, natural and Avante Garde work is able to morph the energy in any room into whatever she needs it to be. This energy alchemist gives her the ability to control the opinions around her, while she stays true to her innermost self. She might not like the title “activist”, but she models the template of what self-empowerment looks like.
“We’ve gotten to a point where speaking up is better than shutting up. When I see something that I don’t think is right, I call it out” she states. Unlike many living in such a fake woke era, the “alien” (and fellow Aquarian) never backs down from her beliefs.