Banging the Surface, Revealing the Beauty
All these years, breaking the surface to reveal the beauty. But with time, things take on a life of their own. When I started this blog in 2015, I was beginning my journey into makeup. This whole thing, Making Up The Magic, is the result AND the behest of having been a fashion addict in my twenties and thirties. My addiction started very young. Cindy, Naomi, Linda and Co. got me at the tender age of 15. And the Monroe’s, the Kelly’s got me at an even younger age, as I watched beguiled by late-night movies, without any adult supervision, back in the fab 80s of Boy George, Michael Jackson and Madonna. Sorry for the nostalgia. If you want to see some authentic 90s, I love this article from Australian Marie Claire on why you should also be in awe! https://www.marieclaire.com.au/90s-supermodels
Instagram Lulled the Fashion Star
As the D.I.Y. beauty and fashion culture of Instagram and YouTube was impending on magazines by 2015, like the one I used to work for. I was still skeptical of it’s power, and like most people working in fashion/beauty, I didn’t see the writing on the wall. I was too busy hanging on to my fashion dreams. Now, it looks like the slow dying out of a beached whale. Fashion magazines are hanging on in the hopes of a supernatural recovery, spewing out the same BS, while Social Media tugs the carpet ever so gently from under the senile attempts at modern-isms. Ah! How the desire to be right always gets the strongest. But I did see the writing: it spelled Freedom 90. George Michael was a visionary!
The Great Emotional Reset
A break in my way of creating content occurred in 2019. Until then, I had been making up “new faces” and working with a photographer, you know: the good ‘ole way of breaking onto the scene (before The Gram). New Faces are usually very young girls who are thrust in front of the camera (as they are blossoming into young women), in hopes that they will be the next “it girl”. All those different skin tones and bones structures made me realize that there is no beauty grimoire, there is no recipe. This was taking me deeper into the politics and racism of beauty, and I realized how subjective these ideas were, how easily outdated they can become. How wrong they had been. And how having been a young and Caucasian fashion addict, hadn’t helped me to see the light. But, say what you want, Cancel Culture did sound the alarm. Sorry not sorry, as they say.
Looking back, it became clear: I create characters, more than “natural beauty”. But why was I so stuck on this social construct of “Natural Beauty”, a fakery created for the camera. As a makeup artist, I needed to brake that myth. and so I embraced–against my good Caucasian fashionista judgement– what I thought was the BS trend of over-applying makeup and combined it with character design work.
And adding insult to injury, I turned the camera on myself to be my new guinea pig. I couldn’t pretend not to see how cruel it was of putting these young models in the roles of the dramatic women I had visions of. Why should I rob them of their own emerging sense of self-identity? I was slowly and broken-heartedly realizing I was doing unto them, what I had unknowingly done to myself. Through this re-arranging of subject vs camera, in the much-maligned self-portrait (the DSLR version of the Selfie), I thought I could be free! But instead, I kept banging into my own limitations.
Sorry it’s not the camera, it’s you, Omorphia
In the end karma is a bitch. The truth was: the camera isn’t cruel. We are. The camera is honest, it gives back what it’s given. My self-image was shattered. By having no director, no external eye, I became the witness of my performances of beauty. All the years spent retouching young girls caught up with the middle-aged-ness of my face. It brought to light my own cruel thoughts and my own judgements. This had to stop! Don’t ask why there is no one in the glossies over the age of thirty. Us over 30s can’t bear to see ourselves, unless we’re fully retouched. Thank god I had my Instagram Account, I could join the revolución. Or so I thought.
We’re all Haunted by Archeology
All these images that had made me dream, were now my haunting and unflinching “Ghosts of Beauty”. They gathered into an imaginary pantheon of impossible glamour, forming my own unconscious guidebook to beauty. Or maybe, should I say: the performance of beauty. The only way to exorcise these ghosts was a decade-by-decade autopsy. A process of deconstructing the past by looking at iconic images and their makeup, as well as the women that were closely linked to their creation. Like a good archeologist, I asked: “where does this really come from?”. Since the 90s, the image making machine is found quoting its own past immemorial, like an amnesic painter, or a bad cop stealing the weed from the evidence locker. It would rather forget the History, or Herstory, to create the ill-lust-sion of the new, the ever young.
“The only thing new in the world is the history you do not know.” ― Harry S. Truman
Look mom: I’m now a forensic beauty nerd, digging up the visual corpses of the women on who’s faces beauty myths were made of and pulling them apart to see how they tick. When you X -Ray all that glamour, you see that it’s just a means to an end: to seduce the lens, to render beauty like a painter, to render the character more impressing upon us, the viewers. Makeup is just another magic trick, you can wash it all off, and that sequined dress falls to the floor, at the end of the day. If someone had only told me that in my teens, maybe I would have been an accountant!
2022, I’m turning a new leaf. After breaking the surface to reveal the beauty, and cataloguing my ghosts, I’ve turned my DSLR into a movie camera. Should you need to know: no one would dream of retouching video images, not even me (and I’m a really good retoucher). I am embarking on the second journey of busting my own ghosts and accepting my middle-aged flaws. The blog will still be up, with makeup content. My archeological performances of beauty will be on my Instagram.