Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy

Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy

by Bil Wright


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Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy by Bil Wright

In this spirited exploration of strength and personality, a fabulous NYC teen knows he’s destined for greatness—if only he can survive his first job.

Carlos Duarte knows that he’s fabulous. He’s got a better sense of style than half the fashionistas in New York City, and he can definitely apply makeup like nobody’s business. He may only be in high school, but when he lands the job of his dreams—makeup artist at the FeatureFace counter in Macy’s—he's sure that he’s finally on his way to great things.
But the makeup artist world is competitive and cutthroat, and for Carlos to reach his dreams, he'll have to believe in himself more than ever.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416940043
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date: 08/07/2012
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 1,211,978
Product dimensions: 5.62(w) x 8.04(h) x 0.62(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Bil Wright is an award-winning novelist and playwright. His novels include Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy (Lambda Literary Award and American Library Association Stonewall Book Award), the highly acclaimed When the Black Girl Sings (Junior Library Guild selection), and the critically acclaimed Sunday You Learn How to Box. His plays include Bloodsummer Rituals, based on the life of poet Audre Lorde (Jerome Fellowship), and Leave Me a Message (San Diego Human Rights Festival premiere). He is the Librettist for This One Girl’s Story (GLAAD nominee) and the winner of a LAMI (La Mama Playwriting Award). An associate professor of English at CUNY, Bil Wright lives in New York City. Visit him at BilWright.com.

Read an Excerpt

When I was twelve, I convinced my mother to let me do her makeup for Parents’ Night. When I was finished, my sister, Rosalia, who was fifteen, said, “Ma, aren’t ya even gonna say anything?”

Ma said to me, “All right, so it looks nice, Carlos. But I don’t think I should be encouraging something like this. I’m not gonna go to your school and tell your teacher, ‘See my face! Isn’t it pretty? My son did my makeup. Didn’t he do an excellent job?”

Rosalia asked, “Why not?”

Ma said, “You know why not! Don’t make me say it.”

Rosalia put her hands on her hips. “You know what, Ma? Carlos is talented, that’s what he is. He’s probably gonna be famous one day for being so talented, and you should be happy he can do something this good so young!”

After Ma went to Parents’ Night, Rosalia and I went to McDonald’s. Rosalia told me again she thought I was talented and that I was gonna be famous. I asked her to buy me an extra bag of chocolate chip cookies and an all-chocolate sundae to prove she really meant it.

• • •

By the time I got to Sojourner Truth/John F. Kennedy Freedom High School, I knew if other people could get paid as makeup artists, I could too. I already had a job after school being an assistant to all the teachers in a day care program. I didn’t love my job, but I did love being able to go shopping for makeup at Little Ricky’s on Thirteenth Street, where they had the wildest stuff. I’d run home, lock my bedroom door, and try it out immediately. Sitting on the side of my bed, studying my face in my two-sided makeup mirror (one for normal view, one for super-close-up) was like school after school. It was me practicing the thing that I knew would make me famous someday.

No matter what any of them said, the girls at school had to admit I was an expert. And the boys who got away with eyeliner because they were supposedly rockers even asked me for tips on how to put it on straight. I was really happy to tell them, because crooked eyeliner is so whack, it makes me nuts.

My friend Angie suggested, “Carlos, now that you’re sixteen, you should come to Macy’s and try to get a part-time job at a makeup counter.” She worked there on Saturdays and she bugged me from the beginning of school in September. “You have to go and apply for a job before the holidays. That’s when they need all the help they can get. I bet you could work for any company you wanted—Chanel, Bobbi Brown, Dolce & Gabbana. Any of them.”

I know it sounds like I’m exaggerating, but the idea of it made me stop breathing for . . . well, a few seconds at least. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it first. I guess I’d only pictured doing Mary J. Blige’s makeup before a concert, or maybe Rihanna’s, or taking a month off from school to go on tour with Janet Jackson because she insisted if she didn’t have me she couldn’t do the tour. I hadn’t thought about working at a department store.

Even though I was sure of what I could do, I thought working for Macy’s was a long shot, a fantasy that was nice to talk and dream about, but soooo unlikely.

I asked her, “Angie, do you think a big, famous store like Macy’s would really hire me? I don’t have any professional experience.”

And good old Angie said, “Honey, all we have to do is get you an application. Then we’ll come up with a fake résumé. We’ll put my cell number on it. When they call, I’ll answer, ‘Greenberg’s Department Store’ and tell them, ‘Carlos Duarte? You’d be lucky to get him! He’s fabulous!’”

Angie worked on the tenth floor in the Linens department at Macy’s. But selling pillowcases and Martha Stewart sheet sets didn’t mean she knew a whole lot about how they hired people in the makeup department. “I’m pretty sure it’s not that easy, Angie. Can’t you make friends with somebody at one of the counters and ask them how they hire?”

And of course Angie said in her typical I-was-just-playin’-’cause-I-don’t-really-have-enuff-courage-to-do-what-I-said Angie way, “I can’t go down there! They all look so beautiful . . . and so mean.”

“Are you kidding me? ‘They all look so beautiful’? I’ve passed by makeup counters hundreds of times, including the ones at Macy’s, and the people who work at those counters have on a ton of makeup, but that doesn’t mean they’re beautiful! And if they look mean, maybe it’s because it’s hot standing around under those fluorescent lights wearing that much makeup whether you want to or not. Can you just get over yourself and go down and ask them? Get me a stupid application? This is important! And besides, it was your idea in the first place!”

“Maybe if I lose five pounds by Saturday when I go to work, I’ll get up the courage to ask one of them.”

“But, Angie, they don’t care how much you weigh! And I guarantee you, you have a prettier face than most of them. Look, if you want, I’ll get up early on Saturday and come over to your apartment and do your makeup. That way maybe when you see that your makeup looks better than most of theirs, you’ll be able to get up enough courage to help your very best friend get the job you know he deserves!”

As usual, when Angie’s insecurity took over her brain, everything I liked about her, including her common sense, suddenly disappeared. “If you want the job that badly, why don’t you just show up and ask them yourself?” She was all huffed up.

“Angie, it was brilliant of you to think that I should apply there for a job. And I totally mean brilliant. But that makes sense, because you’re brilliant. Most of the time. But now, could you tell me what sense it makes for me to go there on Saturday and ask how I can apply for a job and what would make me qualified, then show up there the next Saturday acting like I’ve had so much experience? I mean, what do I say when they ask me, ‘If you have so much experience doing this, why did you need to come in and ask how somebody gets hired to do it in the first place?’”

Angie was losing it. “I don’t know! Just tell them you thought maybe different department stores had different ways of doing things!”

“Yeah, and that would make me sound like I’d worked in dozens and dozens of them, wouldn’t it?” I shook my head sadly like I couldn’t believe Angie was trying to snatch away my dream for a career in makeup after putting it under my nose like a liver dog treat to a puppy. “Forget it, Ange.” I put my hand up between us. “Don’t give it another thought. Maybe I can Google it or something and find out that way.” Then I added pitifully, “Thanks.”

“Ohmygod, Carlos! All right! If you do my makeup, I’ll go down to the first floor on my break and ask one of those mean, snotty-looking would-be models how to apply for a job there. Making it absolutely clear that I don’t mean for myself! And I’ll do it whether I’ve lost five pounds or not.”

“Ooooh!” I squealed, and yes, I do definitely squeal, I have to admit it. And the more excited I am, the higher it is. “Do you promise?”

“Yessssss, I promise!” Angie rolled her eyes and shook her head. Then she said, “If you promise me something!”

“Anything, Ange, anything!” I knew she was gonna ask that, when we both worked at Macy’s, I do her makeup every Saturday, and I was more than happy to say yes.

She looked at me very seriously and lifted her head like I better get ready, so I did. “You better promise that when you get hired there and everybody knows you and thinks you’re talented and great . . .”

“And they will,” I flicked my head to the side with one hand on my hip. “You know they will, girl.”

“Yeah, well you better promise that no matter how popular you are, you won’t start acting weird like you’re embarrassed to be with me or something.”

“Angie,” I said, just as serious as she was, “I’m sorry you have this condition that makes you say and even think insane things. So, what I’m going to do until you can get yourself healed is just say, Hon, I love you and I’ll always love you, whether you’re a hundred and three pounds or three hundred and one pounds. I’m just hoping that you won’t wind up being three hundred and one pounds. Because, first, it isn’t healthy, and, second, you’ll want to be on one of those weight-loss shows, and then I will have to disown you because I think they’re just so tacky! I’d die, Ange, I really would!”

Angie said, “And I don’t think we have to worry about me ever being a hundred and three pounds, unless somebody sews my mouth shut!” She laughed, one of her big old Angie laughs, which is one of my favorite sights and sounds in the world.

And I started picturing myself behind the biggest, most fabulous makeup counter in Macy’s.

© 2011 Bil Wright

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Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Heidi_G More than 1 year ago
Loved it! Carlos is often over-the-top flamboyant, a gay teen who knows who he is and is ok with others knowing it. He has a dream of being a makeup artist to the stars and there is a possibility of a job at Macys that will lead him toward that goal. His antics made me laugh. The storyline with his friend, Soroya, seems to end abrubtly--was there no making up between the two? Although things really fell into place for Carlos and his career, they seemed to do so a bit too conveniently. However, the book is definitely one of my favorite reads this summer and I am sure my students will check it out immediately. Well done, Mr. Wright!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Carlos has sass, a friend I wish I had. This book is inspirational im a quiet, cheerful way.
epicrat More than 1 year ago
I thought the title too irresistable to give this book a chance - and I will have to say that it was a rather delightful sort of read. Imagine if Marc St. James from Ugly Betty gave his own backstory - and I think you will be able to picture Carlos perfectly! He was sassy, confident, and just a perfect blend of ambitious and niceness to make for a likeable main character. I am not a makeup fiend (.well, maybe I dabble in eyeshadows like a regular Bob Ross), but the enthusiasm that exudes from Carlos as he lands a job at a Macy's cosmetics counter is all but infectious. I think anyone who has any retail experience can appreciate the challenge of handling a moody, self-centered boss and learning how to make ornery customers feel beautiful again. I did appreciate that Carlos came from a low-income family, and he struggled to help his family make ends meet. So many books seem to have characters who live charmed lives where they don't have to worry about food or meeting rent, and this story element brought more tension to Putting Makeup On The Fat Boy than what would have been if Carlos had been born to riches. As enjoyable as watching Carlos walk the path toward his dream career, there were a few bumps in the road that seemed a little too disconnected with the ultimate goal. Of course, no road traveled should be without detours and obstructions, but I did not think enough time had been spent on them - and these projects were left unfinished or else with an less-than-desirable ending. Perhaps I have read too many happy-ever-afters, but even the unhappy-ever-afters seemed not fully realized when I reached the end. Putting Makeup On The Fat Boy is a charming read, despite the title that sounds a bit rude, and Carlos embraces himself with as much joie de vivre as the cast of Ugly Betty does. A sequel would be very welcomed in my mind since there were a few loose ties that I thought still needed closure.
StudentJeriah More than 1 year ago
Carlos Duarte is a 15 year old that is very talented in the makeup department. He started at the age of twelve, when he was doing his mother’s makeup for a parent-teacher conference. His mom never wanted to tell other that her son did her makeup. Rosalia his sister, though he had a talent that needed to be shared. He always helped others in school with their makeup; Rosalia is not the only one that thought he was gifted in the arts of cosmetics. Carlos has a best friend Angie who had the bright idea that he would be able to get a job as a makeup artist at the Feature Face counter at Macy’s. He had only thought of that in his wildest of dreams, but he helped everyone with their makeup from girls to Goths. But the only way he was to obtain this job was with a fake reference. The fake reference was the least of his trouble. His conflicts arise when he was fooling around with his friend. He was trying to cook for them and was flipping food in all types of fancy ways. The last time the pancake went into the air it landed on his eye and left a really bad burn. His mom had warned him before to stay away from the stove and skillet. He begged his sister Rosalia to borrow some makeup of hers to cover up his burn. She refused to help him deceive their mother. He ended up stealing makeup from his job in broad daylight. The amount he attempted to steal amounted up to hundreds of dollars. On top of that, he was placed in the school newspaper and it spoke on how high school employee steals makeup. He had a scandal on his hands. On chapter thirty-five page 112. Shows the title of the article he was in. “HIGH SCHOOL EMPLOYEE EMBEZZLES SEVERL HUNDRED DOLLARS OF MERCHANDISE! WALKS OUT OF THE STORE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY!” It states “I was hyperventilating. I’d pictured trying to calm a screaming Valentino, but I’d never pictured Valentino smirking over Craig Denton’s shoulder as they waited for me to be arrested and dragged through the store in handcuffs” which speaks on how they hauled Carlos away and the reporters from school were laughing Carlos usually thinks on the bright side off things even when something is going terribly wrong. “ It’s better than the cops coming to the school to arrest me or the apartment and having all the neighbors see. Poor Ma”, it also shows he cares for his mother. In the beginning of the book Carlos talks about how their father walked out on their mother. He told her she was too good for him, and they were doing just fine with or without him. Carlos always seems to have a positive view on things.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
l_manning More than 1 year ago
Carlos Duarte knows exactly who he is and what he wants from life. When he hears about a chance to apply at Macy's to work at one of their make-up counters, he knows this is going to open the doors to his dreams of becoming a famous make-up artist. Carlos soon learns that this may prove to be more difficult than he had first though. Throw in problems with his sisters, a crush, and dealing with severe homophobia , and Carlos soon has more on his plate than he thought he'd have to deal with. Carlos is a fun person! He is so sure of himself, and you can't help but feel positive while reading about him. I have no doubt that he would be everything he wants to be in life. He had a lot of things to deal with in this book, and he did it all with a fabulous sense of grace. I had two small complaints. One was that Carlos could seem a little bit too much like a stereotype. It just seemed to pull me out of the story and didn't really fit who I felt Carlos was. The other has to do with the homophobia directed at him. He just seemed a little too passive about it for me. I really didn't feel a reaction about it one way or the other from him. I just wanted a little more there. Those issues aside, I thought this was a fun book. I think it's great to have a book like this with an out and proud teen. While coming of age type coming out stories have their place, it's awesome to just have a fluffy book. While some serious issues are dealt with, over all this book is just plain fun. It helps to emphasize the "normal-ness" of Carlos. So overall I thought this was an enjoyable book. Galley provided by publisher for review.
K_malinczak More than 1 year ago
I think this is probably the first GLBT book I've read. I'm not 100% positive, but I'm pretty sure. It's not like I haven't read books with gay or lesbian characters in them before, but I've never read a book where the protagonist is gay. And I loved it. I've worked with a lot of gay people and had a few as friends, and I thought the characterization of the protagonist was pretty well done because he reminded me of a few of them. And I loved them all. The thing I most admired about Carlos Duarte was his perseverance. He had a dream and a plan and he stuck to it. Along the way he dealt with homophobia, catty coworkers, family instability, etc. and he never once wavered on his path or stopped believing in himself. That's admirable. Especially since so often it's simpler to take the easy road. But the easy road rarely, if ever, leads to true happiness. Honestly Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy was a pretty fluffy read. Of course there were a few things that happened that were difficult for me to get through. But for the most part it was a fun story about a teenager that really loves and has a passion for being a makeup artist. And he really wants to make a career out of it. Starting by working at Macy's. Now why anyone would look at working at Macy's as part of a dream fulfillment is beyond my understanding. I worked at Dillard's and nightmare I can understand. Dream, no. But I digress. Carlos was a pretty amazing character. He was flawed in that he was a bit selfish, but he was still a pretty awesome guy. I liked that he was comfortable in his own skin and that he really didn't let what other people thought get to him. And he was funny too. He had a great sense of humor. In fact, the entire book was pretty funny. Being that I have worked in retail before, I totally cracked up at some of his customer situations. I've been there. It's worth a read just if you've worked in retail alone. But if you want to laugh, if you want a quick and enjoyable read, I think you will find that here.
Shantea Roberson More than 1 year ago
Not good