Aliya Hall, 16

Aliya Hall, from Grand Rapids, Michigan, is an avid writer who wants to encourage her readers to see between the lines of her prose to its deeper meaning. For Hall, writing teen fiction, short stories, and poems feels like an escape into her own world. She explores topics that fall within the coming of age experience: school, family, social dynamics, and preparing for the struggles of the real world.

As a teenage African-American girl, Hall has already been racially profiled, judged, stereotyped, and called unthinkable words by her Caucasian peers. Hall is a driven advocate of the abolishment of racism, because she sees it still happening every day. She says it is an outrage and thinks it is unacceptable to have future generations grow up in a world where racial aggression is normalized and accepted; she fears a future where her children would be stopped and talked to by law enforcement. Hall hopes that her voice, along with those of her peers, can change the world’s attitude on discrimination based on physical traits. She recognizes that some stereotyping is inherent, but also dreams of a world in which all people make a deliberate effort to see past the hoodie, or anything unfamiliar, in an effort to end discrimination.

She is a member of HASU (Hook A Sista Up) and has attended HASU Women Who Write conferences. HASU helps women entrepreneurs by bringing awareness to their businesses, promoting their work and providing mentorship and collaboration opportunities. 

Hall hopes to publish several works before graduating high school and plans to attend a historically black college to study business and writing. She plans to become an author and someday have her writing adapted for cinema. As a student of Grand Rapids Creative Youth Center, an organization that fosters creative youth writing, her work will soon be published in an anthology of student writing, Dear Monster, Dear World: The Book of Explosions VII.


Beautiful Before and After

by Aliya Hall


When I got out of the chair and looked in the mirror, I realized man oh man I’m BEAUTIFUL! The way the foundation camouflaged with my skin. The glitter on my eyelids that complemented my eye color. The bold, black lashes on my eyes that brought out the hint of red on my lips to compliment my smile.


I’m in a group called HASU (Hook A Sista Up). We help each other expand our businesses and support each other when in need. For instance, Mrs. Janice from HASU needed a young teen girl to model some makeup styles for her skin care and makeup business Studio 824 Beauty Lounge. Mrs. Otterbridge, the founder of HASU, tagged me in the post on Facebook, so I volunteered. But I’d never worn makeup before.  



Sometimes I wish people encouraged self-confidence and natural beauty like me. In my mind, my brown skin glistens with just a touch of light. My body is fit and beautiful, a silhouette that is not to be touched! And when I walk, my body is straight, my smile is big, and my confidence helps me keep my head held high. People act as though it is not possible that my confidence is good and that my body is 100% mine. See I feel BEAUTIFUL all the time even when I am wearing three different colors.


I sat ill-at-ease in Mrs. Janice’s white patent-leather makeup chair. I was in a room full of bright white lights. First, Mrs. Janice cleaned my face with a wipe. It felt uncomfortable but still relaxing. She started off finding my skin tone by taking little samples and trying them on me. I giggled at moments when she swiped my face with the brush. The way the bristle touched me was strange and sort of soothing, almost like how I must have felt as a newborn baby when my mother stroked my cheek for the first time.


The most uncomfortable part was when Mrs. Janice put fake lashes on my eyelids. It felt as though I had bird wings hanging off of my eyes. I couldn’t even blink. I remember peeking in the mirror, every now and then, to see the transformation from me to makeup me.



I used to think that I wanted to be like every model in all those magazines—face full of makeup, no bumps, and skin clear and free. But then I look in the mirror and say to Mrs. Janice my mom’s going to cry, I look so grown!


When my mom saw my makeup got done, she was in awe. She didn’t say anything but wow and beautiful.


There was only one time I felt less beautiful. It was when a boy I liked told me I was so beautiful and smart and funny and then never talked to me again. It was because he never liked me. I felt so ugly that the pretty on the inside frowned. My mom said to me you’re beautiful and don’t need anyone to tell you different! And my dad pulled me close to him to wrap his arms around me and say I love you and you are a very beautiful girl and if he doesn’t see that then oh well. So I got my confidence back.


After we thanked Mrs. Janice and took a bunch of pictures we left. I wanted to show off my makeup but it was late, so I called my best friend’s mom, Mrs. Lacy, and asked if I could come over because I had a surprise for them. The whole car ride there I smiled and asked my siblings what do you think they will say about my makeup? We even planned how we would knock on the door and I would walk in hiding behind them, then pop out from behind them.



I stood in front of all of them batting my eyes and waiting for their response. My mom and Mrs. Lacy said to me you’re beautiful before and after.



Beautiful before and after. Me, who not too long ago was staring at my face without any makeup and giving myself a pep talk.


Beautiful before and after. You’re gorgeous, your smile is bright, and your eyebrows are right.


Beautiful before and after. Be proud when they ask if you are wearing any makeup.


Beautiful before and after. Reply with, No, I’m naturally beautiful but if I was wearing makeup then I would still be beautiful.


I am beautiful. Before and after.