Growing up, Angel Merino, also known as Mac_Daddyy to his 1.4 million Instagram followers, never expected to see his own beauty products at cosmetic counters. But after facing his fears, defying Latinx cultural norms, and finding his calling, he discovered a brighter future than he imagined for himself and paved the way for more “beauty boys” in the process. The following interview was told to Thatiana Diaz and edited for length and clarity.
I grew up in an all-women household with my mom, aunt, and cousin in Riverside, California. Being Latinas, they were all about beauty with the hair and makeup. I remember going with my mom to the hair salon and being there for eight hours as she did her hair. I would also go shopping with my mom at department stores at a young age. She’d always go to the Lancôme counter and pick up her staple skin-care products. With my family, beauty has always been a thing.
That familiarity with beauty became helpful when I turned 16 and got a job coaching a competition dance team. I’d see all the other teams with amazing hair, makeup, and costumes, and our studio owner would order these generic makeup kits for the parents to do their children’s makeup before competitions. Everyone showed up looking different, and I thought, This is the one thing that we’re missing as a team. I’m super competitive, so I took it upon myself to start doing everyone’s makeup before events. I had no clue what I was doing; I didn’t even know how to hold a brush, but it was more about uniformity than the details. However, this opened the door into the world of makeup for me.
I had another part-time job working at a kiosk in the middle of the mall selling flatirons. I was that annoying guy when you’re walking through the mall, saying, “Let me show you how this works.” There was this guy that also worked there, who was one of the first gay people that I ever met, and he was all about the glam. I didn’t have anybody to relate to in high school, and I wasn’t out yet. He and I would go over to the Nordstrom beauty department during our lunch break, and we’d eventually make our way to the MAC counter. My coworker introduced me to putting makeup on myself rather than just trying to do makeup on the dancers at my other job. He showed me the ropes, and that’s when I bought my first MAC Studio Fix Powder and moisturizer. I took everything home and hid it all from my mom because I wasn’t out at home either.
“When [superheroes] put on their cape and mask, they have a certain role and responsibility that they take on. For me, that’s how the ‘Mac Daddy’ persona works.”
I kept the makeup in my bag, and I would go to the bathroom when I got …read more