People Can't See It, But This Grocery Worker Still Wears Lipstick Under Her Mask

Save ArticleSave Article

Failed to save article

Please try again

Even under a mask, Yesenia Ortiz likes to wear her lipstick every day.

"You know Latina girls," she says, laughing.

She keeps a folded-up paper towel under the mask she wears all day, "because I don't want to ruin my mask."

Ortiz works at a grocery store called Compare Foods in Greensboro, N.C., unloading trucks and restocking shelves.

Customers have been "asking me every day for alcohol, Windex, Clorox for wiping," Ortiz told NPR in late April. "Every day! 'Oh, we don't got none. We ran out. I'm so sorry.' They get so frustrated."


And it's not just customers. Just leaving her home to go to work has been upsetting some people. For instance, when Ortiz was getting into her car, a neighbor came out and asked where she was going.

"They question me like, 'Hey you! Are you violating the quarantine?' "

Ortiz told her neighbor she works in a supermarket, which is why she's been leaving her home.

As a low-wage worker, Ortiz says she wishes she would get paid more during the pandemic because of the extra level of risk to which she is exposed. To get paid more "would be a dream come true," she says.

As for the neighbor, Ortiz surprised her by getting her some groceries, "and she said, 'Oh my God, you sure?' "

Read more stories in Faces Of The Coronavirus Recession.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit