Miss pageants are sort of a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, I love the idea of celebrating beauty of different countries. On the other hand, they celebrate a certain standard of beauty, which is evolving, but it’s still not as inclusive as it should be. I wanted to share the creative process of working with Miss World Mexico when she came to Canada!
I got the opportunity to work with Andrea Meza, Miss Mexico from the Miss World competition, when she was in Montreal in early spring of this year (2017). It was thanks through a friend who knew César (the photographer I collaborate with for my blog) that we got this great break.
We met Miss Mexico and Arturo (César’s friend) and her chaperone, at the swanky Ritz Hotel. Once I got to talk to Andrea, we had a chance to clear some of my “miss-conceptions” out of the way! Andrea comes from a small town, and she was born into a family with very modest means. Thanks to the Miss World competition, she got motivated to aim higher than what was available to her. Thanks to her participation in the pageant, she was able to get a higher education, and to travel the world. It makes you realize what power beauty can have in a woman’s life.
A REAL WOMAN
What won me over was that Andrea was really down to earth, and she took the privilege of being Miss Mexico very seriously. She has a very authentic beauty. She wasn’t trying to be anything else but herself. Thanks to her, I also learned that there are actually two Miss pageants (Miss World and Miss Universe), and the one she was part of was not controlled by Trump. It made my decision even easier. If you want to see the other contestants you can follow this link to the Miss World Website.
The very next day, I dived into the Web to do my research. It soon became clear how white-American beauty is still a world standard for how women format their looks. In fashion standards are maybe a bit “more” open, but out in the big world, the golden-age Hollywood beauty is still alive. By going over her Instagram, I could see that most of the people she worked with, made her skin look much lighter than it actually was, sometimes, it almost looked alabaster, when it’s more a shade of golden goddess.
THE EXOTIC FACTOR OF BEAUTY
I find it endlessly fascinating how, as white people, we try to look as tanned as possible, and those who are naturally bronzed goddesses, try to look paler. That’s the strangeness of ideas of beauty. There is an exotic component about beauty that is hard to ignore. A great deal of us are rarely, if ever, satisfied with our own attributes. What I also liked about Andrea, is that she had many Instagram pictures of herself with very little makeup on. Pictures of her working out, not in a cute gym, or in a cute outfit, to be cute–but showing herself as a serious athlete. It was nice to see how the Miss Mexico Beauty Queen was a persona that she added to athlete, and woman.
WHAT IS MEXICAN BEAUTY?
(Is there such a thing?)
When it comes to Mexican beauty, the great artist Frida Khalo, embraced the folkloric aspects of her native Mexico, making her imagery unforgettable. But Frida’s look is too iconic to use on Andrea. But as I continued off the beaten path, ties emerged to Spain and to flamenco, to the Indigenous tribes of South America like the Aztecs, and the Maya. The bold colours, the geometric patterns seemed to be the key. And it seemed much more modern to my eye. She already had plenty of Instaglam smoky eyes and contouring under her belt. I wanted to work on a different idea, more simple and closer to her roots, without being obvious.
When I work with women that are not Caucasian, I find that as a Caucasian woman, I’m much more drawn to their heritage (maybe you can key-into that exotic factor). Personally, I’ve never tried to fit them into the white beauty standard. For many of these women, it’s interesting to have a white woman like me gush over their ethnic-specific beauty, to want to work with it, and to celebrate it. Not because, I didn’t want them to have my “Beauty” privileges. But when I celebrate the beauty of Andrea, it’s also to celebrate the heritage she came from.
For these, I didn’t want to mask the beautiful caramel tone of her skin. I used a custom blend of orange blush to give her some J-Lo Glow. I kept the makeup as understated as possible. I brushed a brow gel that was a shade paler than her brows to soften them. I rounded the arch, and I brushed them, made them bushier, more natural, and less groomed. In a close-up portrait all these details add up. For the evening look in the black smoking, I went for an orange red, it looks great against medium skin tones and makes the vampy-ness softer. On the eyes, it defines them without adding darkness. I used some Limited edition Lancôme cream shadows in red, but any red shades will do, there are so many now available.
Foundation NARS All Day Luminous Weightless Foundation in Tahoe
Blush Make Up For Ever HD Cream Blush in Tangerine and Brown Copper
Liner, Giorgio Armani Eye & Brow Maestro in Black.
Nude Lipstick NARS Audacious Lipstick in Jane
Red Lipstick Givenchy Le Rouge in Bolero mixed with the NARS in Jane to make it less saturated
Eye Shadow, Ben Nye Sculpting Powder in Medium (available in movie makeup stores)
White Blazer Alison Sheri
Black Blazer Theory
These pictures were shot on a different day. I wanted to play with the clothes and accessories to tell a story of a modern woman, proud of her roots. Whe we put the red dress on her, it came alive. It’s the boldest, yet simplest look. It shows the power of colour and hints at local cultures through the accessories. Andrea loved these looks, it made her feel powerful, and strong. When Cesar paired a red background with the red dress, that was IT!
The makeup is the same in both pictures. I did a cut-crease with the M.A.C. Paint Pot in Soft-Ochre to cut the lid out, up into just above her crease, but I didn’t shade the crease. I wanted something graphic yet subtle. I added a soft liner to give depth to the lashes. The makeup was kept super minimal because of the strong clothes. This time, for the hairstyling I called in Daphney Charles to work curls that were natural and hinted at glamour, without being “evening”.
Foundation and base makeup is the same as the portraits above.
Hair for the second day Daphney Charles