There appears to be a widely acknowledged duality to the nature of public opinion on make-up. Mass opinion seems unable to discern whether there is a difference between make-up as artistry, as often used on the runway, and make-up to conceal or alter features perceived as undesirable.
The issue is littered with references to the case study that is the Kardashian/Jenner family. The youngest of the family, Kylie Jenner, 18, recently said that contouring had changed her life, and has also admitted to having temporary lip fillers this year. While the family often extols the virtues of these beauty procedures and regimes, the media almost universally discusses them in a negative light. The artist ‘Sainthoax’ not long ago posted a series of time-lapse photos on Instagram of Khloe and Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner complete with the hashtag ‘pumpingupthekardashians’. The photos displayed a past to present of each of the women’s faces, illustrating how they have changed and apparently alluding to the use of cosmetic procedures to create these changes. The caption under the time lapse of Kim read: “maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s a little more than ‘contouring’ “. Arguably, the prevailing unsupportive mood in relation to the Kardashians’ beauty techniques is due in part to people’s distaste to the way they have obtained and continue to reinforce their fame with their reality TV show. However, it may also be because of some kind of discomfort with their alteration of the face, to a point where it appears unnatural.
These criticisms could be met with the objection that all make-up makes people appear unnatural or at least altered to some extent. Makeup on the runway obviously transforms a model’s face, often in an obvious way, but this is mostly taken to be an art form working in collaboration with the clothes and accessories to create a certain aesthetic and mood. Pat McGrath’s elaborate glitter work of Bowie-esque silver block zigzags or Marc Jacob’s completely makeup free runway looks are thought of as artistry rather than an attempt at sneaky facial distortion. Runway makeup is experimental and thought provoking at times, in a way that contouring as part of a daily routine to alter and ‘improve’ one’s features is not. While Jenner is met with criticism, the extreme contouring seen on Hood by Air’s SS16 show was more of a statement than an attempt to set a beauty trend going.
This appears to be the difference between runway beauty looks and those frequented by people on a large scale. Runway aesthetics are often a way of expressing and showcasing new ideas and art forms, whilst contouring everyday as part of your make-up routine can be seen as egotistical and unnecessary. Moreover, it signals a stagnation in beauty trends and a discomfort with one’s natural features.
While most people would celebrate everyone’s freedom to use as much makeup as they like, it is interesting to see how the media expresses a far less tolerant view.
Featured image: PHOTO_flickr