Contour Queen: The Power Of Makeup Revisited

A few years ago, I wrote a piece called “Send In The Clowns”. As a photography student who was enthralled by feminism and bodily autonomy, I captured my thoughts on makeup through a series of pictures that expressed my confusion- whether weaing makeup was feminist or not. Two years on, I would’ve never thought that my makeup journey would have progressed this much, and my thoughts around feminism related to makeup have finally become clear.


I’ve had to defend my choice to wear makeup amongst feminist circles countless times, which was disheartening, to say the least, when I started out experimenting with makeup. I’ve always seen makeup as a form of self-care, so to be met with negativity (especially from people I looked up to) made me question whether I was damaging my feminist integrity.


I can’t say when the turning point was. I just stopped caring. I slowly began to realise that I loved what makeup could do for me, and starting owning it. Being a perfectionist, I would spend hours upon hours replicating beautiful looks I’d seen, getting frustrated when I couldn’t get it 100% right. However, slowly but surely, I started getting it “right”. I didn’t have to meticulously plan out every look I was doing the night before, making sure I had all the right palettes ready for me to start first thing in the morning. It was so empowering.


I still had thoughts that were harmful to myself and others around me; maybe I was better without makeup on, more natural, maybe I would be seen as intimidating to others by having strong brows and bold lips. Was I supporting an industry that makes it’s money by tearing women’s self-confidence down, telling them that a blemish is the end of the world, and that no one will love them if they have chubby cheeks? After some tough talks with myself, I came to realise that it was the intention behind my cosmetic obsession that what was really mattered in my personal journey. I wore makeup as an extension of my personality, as a creative outlet, and as part of a self-care routine; and identifying this felt profoundly feminist. 18579307_1898696840350555_2027954573_n

From this long and exhausting journey, I started to love my own skin. I became aware of why my skin would break out, and learnt to forgive myself for mistakes. I became more conscious on what would give me the best value for money in regards to what products I was buying, and hugely boosted my creativity. I stepped out of my comfort zone, and reaped the benefits of it. As I realised that I was good at what I do, I was being told that I looked confident, and I felt it.


I have become aware of the flaws in the beauty industry. I try not to ignorant. I give advice where I can, and I learn as much as possible. I dedicated my Instagram to purely makeup (give it look here), and I practiced, practiced, practiced. I write makeup pieces for Rosewater. But most importantly, I feel confident, inside and out. This weird and wonderful art of makeup has allowed me to embody the sharpness of my eyeliner wings, the glow of my highlight, and the holographic wonder of my glitter. And even after a long, hard, exhausting day, if my cheekbones are contoured sharp enough to kill a man, it’s all worth it.


Interview with Art: Pippin Lee Truman

We sat down with animator and illustrative artist Pippin Lee Truman to chat about their artwork, intersectionality, and their advice for fellow artists! Check out the interview below!

V: What inspires your artwork?

P: I would say that my inspiration mainly comes from the media around me, especially things like comics, because they’re such an interesting way of telling a story. At the same time, I’m really inspired by illustrations that incorporate different types of media, that maybe are part digital and part traditional. I often make comics out of everyday things that happen around me, like dreams that I’ve had- it helps me communicate abstract thought through art. It’s really a combination of lots of different things, but definitely other artists, especially ones that I grew up admiring. I love James Baxter, and classic Disney artists too.

hands practice

 V: Do you think the mundane, everyday experience is more inspirational than huge, impossible things? 

P: I’m a huge fan of absurdist humor, and that style that’s really popular on Tumblr. So making comics about dreams is a really fun way to explore communication, especially with those weird transitions that we all get in dreams. It’s a really fun way to explore as a storytelling device. I also make comics of my day-to-day life, conversations I have and little interactions I have, in order to capture those moments. Especially since I suffer from chronic depression, those mundane moments can be the nicest. Obviously, the everyday can be really tough when your feeling rough, but the mundane can be a really nice escape from it all. The little moments are really sweet to look back on, especially through my sketchbooks. 

V: So, you’re in university at the moment. What would you say are the main things you’ve learnt through studying art, and looking at it as a career?

P: The main thing I’ve found is that there is a huge separation between your working art and your doodling art. The difference between work and home has really helped me, especially when working in an industry environment, as my course is quite strict about that. I find myself much more productive when I’m in a stricter environment, working on tight deadlines, rather than at home relaxed. I set myself such strict goals, and then let myself relax when I was at home, so I can draw what I want. On such a tight schedule you don’t have the luxury of only working when you’re inspired- when you’re working on a project that is much bigger than yourself, you need to put that before your own inspiration. 


V: What would be your advice to new artists to stop getting burnt out when working to a deadline? How to you keep the creativity flowing?

P: When I first started out, I would usually just doodle, and that’s where I did a lot of my growing. What worked for me, was studying other artists I really liked the work of. Years and years ago I came across some fan art for one of my favourite shows, and just started copying their style, because I loved their art. I gradually got better and better, because I was studying, but it was something I enjoyed studying. Obviously this only went so far- I found myself thinking that I didn’t need to study anatomy, because I had already got it. I now realize that made me look like a fool, because you need to study something in the 3D to properly translate it to the 2D. I started taking life drawing lessons, and still to this day take them too. Always try to be improving yourself, once you’ve learnt something, you can then break the rules too, which is such a lovely milestone to come to.  When you start to see your past mistakes, that’s when you know you’ve become a better artist.

V: Your work features a lot of people other than cis, able-bodied, white people, and it’s so great to see such intersectional artwork. What are your inspirations for creating such diversity in your characters?

P: I’m a massive believer that if your feminism isn’t intersectional, it isn’t feminism. If you’re not including all kinds of women, disabled people, or trans people, it’s not feminism. I’m transgender, I’m non-binary and I use they/them pronouns, and I’ve always been very outspoken about that in order to demand respect. I have a character called Jules, who when I was younger was very much a mirror of myself and who I wanted to be, and he’s really androgynous. He’s actually his own character now, and I draw him every so often. He was born out of my own gender and sexuality questioning, so I like to draw characters that aren’t similar to myself, because other wise I wouldn’t be challenging myself as an artist. I live in Birmingham in the UK, so it wouldn’t occur to me to not draw people of diversity, because I grew up surrounded by so many different people. In school I grew up around people of different races and religions, so if you’re not drawing the people around you, you’re not representing them. I obviously still have some learning to do about racism, and ableism, and we have to find out our own information on topics like that. I constantly have to educate people on what non-binary is, or what transgender is. It comes along in leaps and strides, and sometimes it doesn’t. I see people saying that, for example, they can’t draw fat people, because it’s too hard- but it’s really not, it’s exactly the same as learning to draw anyone else. Everyone needs to be engaging with intersectionality, because we are all linked with it. ahahahahahaha

V: How has drawing people other than cis, able-bodied and white been received by your colleagues and lecturers? 

P: I’ve had a couple of occasions where teachers or fellow students don’t seem to connect with my work. A lot of the time, my main experience is with being trans. I’m completely out at university, and have been for a while. In the first few weeks of university they had my legal name on the registers, even though my preferred name is different. I wouldn’t respond to my legal name being called out, and would be marked absent, which was a huge problem academically. Another time, we had to choose a clip to animate a lip-synch to. The clip that I chose was with two voices, one being a higher pitch and one being a lower pitch, and I decided to do it with two girlfriends, with one being a trans woman. In my head, she suited the lower voice, so I put her to lip-synch with that voice, and everyone misgendered my character! Obviously in that situation no one was getting hurt, but it was very odd to have to deal with that. 15

V: What would be your advice to those who find themselves in similar situations? 

P:If anyone ever finds themselves in that situation where someone demands information, or just doesn’t understand, you are never obliged to educate anyone. If you want to give them a whole detailed run down of your subject, or who you are- go right ahead! However, you do not have to do that if you don’t want to. Hopefully in the near future, people will be educated on a base level on subjects like that, so we won’t be put into that sort of situation. If I’m not in the mood to go into details, I tell people to Google it! We have a wealth of information in our pockets all the time, and you never asked to be put in the role of a teacher. Obviously I’m speaking from a place of privilege, I’m a white person and a trans person that is generally at lower risk in the community, unlike my trans sisters or some of my other trans friends, and that’s always important to keep in mind. But keep in mind that you don’t represent everyone, and everyone’s experiences are totally different. 

V: Do you think everyone can use art as a therapeutic activity? 

P: When you’re frustrated or annoyed or sad, I always feel  a little better when I’m doing some art, even if it’s really shit! Communicating your feelings in a way other than just to yourself is a really healthy way to process your feelings. 

V: If someone booked you as an artist, and would give you unlimited money, and allowed you to do any project you wanted, what would it be?

P: I have a lot of projects living in the back of my head that I would love to make a reality! I have an idea for a video game where the protagonist is deaf, and you have to navigate the world using vibrations and very small amounts of clues- but I have lots of little ideas, that I’m constantly adding to. My character I mentioned previously, Jules, has an entire expanded universe and world that links with him and his best friend Adam. That story has been with me ever since my teens, and it’s been developing and growing ever since I’ve been developing and growing. I would love to make that a reality, but I would never trust anyone else with it, because they wouldn’t understand and connect with the characters the same way that I do! I would love to make a fun, experimental animated series for young adults involving all these characters that I’ve been developing for years. I’ve been trying to write a novel for years, but I never have time. So, if anyone wants to give me lots of money and time, I have about ten years of plot living in my brain- hit me up! 3

V: Can everyone be an artist?

P: I think everyone is an artist in their own little way. It might not be drawing a beautiful portrait, but it could be a beautiful singing voice or being great at drumming. There are a lot of ways to create art. Talent doesn’t get you that far- talent will get you a failed audition and a coffee cup full of tears! The idea isn’t to have talent and just see how it goes, it’s about working hard and putting heart into everything you do! Even if it a tiny thing, that’s more than you would’ve made if you just sat there and been sad (not that you can’t just have a self-pity day), but after that’s done, I pick myself up, take a deep breath and pick up the pencil again! 


Check out Pippin Lee Truman’s portfolio here!

Please contact for information on artwork or commission enquiries.

Black Owned Beauty Brands: Beauty At It’s Finest

In a desperate bid to swim through the capitalist world of makeup that is plagued by large corporations clawing at our cash, it is refreshing to find some black owned beauty brands that actually work for a racially-conscious market. One way that you can integrate intersectionality into your everyday life (especially if you are white), is to support these brands, and make sure that people of colour get the recognition they deserve. Not only are the brands below owned by people of colour, but they usually cater to people other than white people. Check out the awesome brands below!

Black Up Cosmetics (

With everything ranging from false eyelashes, to bold matte liquid lipsticks to foundations, Black Up Cosmetics’ tag line is “The makeup expert for women of colour”- so you know you’re in good hands. With an interactive feature to find your perfect foundation shade, picking your foundation has never been easier! On an menu, you can choose your skin colour, undertone, preferred finish, and preferred formula, so you can walk away with the perfect foundation for you! Be sure to check out their other fantastic products.

Beauty Bakerie (

This brand has taken the internet by storm with their confectionary themed cosmetics- including Lip Whips (a liquid lipstick, available in metallic and matte colours), So Icy Illuminators (powdered highlighters in ice cream tubs), and their Sprinkles glitter. Shades can range from nudes, to pastel pinks, to metallic bubblegum, to royal blue, and so much more! This brand will have you coming back for seconds. 

Pink Stiletto Cosmetics (

A brand that tries it’s hand at everything, Pink Stiletto could be your one stop shop for all your beauty needs. Foundations, highlighters, lip palettes, brow pomades, you know name- they’ve got it. You can even order foundation samples if you are unsure on what colour is for you. They ship internationally (except for Italy, due to customs), so you can grab your fix from anywhere!

Coloured Raine (

Coloured Raine’s matte lip paint has shot to fame after being compared to Jeffree Star’s liquid lipstick (y’know, minus the racism- read about that shenanigan here), with subtle nudes that will last all day, to bold colours that will make the best beauty aficionados turn green with envy. They also stock single eyeshadows, as well as their own magnetic palettes, so you have total freedom to pick your own shades from their extensive list. 

Fashion Fair (

A veteran within the beauty industry, Fashion fair was founded in the late 50’s when the owner, Eunice Johnson found a distinct lack of makeup for people of colour. This then led to to develop her own range, which rose to fame in the 80’s as it became the front runner for makeup for people of colour. After a rebrand in 2008, they have come back in full force, supplying foundations, lipsticks and concealers especially for people of colour. Foundations come in a variety of undertones and formulas, so you can find one that is just right for you. 

The House of Flawless (

Initially an online store until February 2017, where they set up shop in Simpsonville, South Carolina, The House of Flawless has their own brand of liquid lipsticks and foundations (currently only available in store). You can book in for one of their glam sessions, where they will apply your makeup for you, ready for you to face the world feeling and looking glamorous, with their own brow specialist, eyelash technicians and much more! They also stock haircare, skincare, and even beauty accessories such as LED mirrors and ring lights! What more could you want in a shop?

Juvia’s Place (

With their African themed eyeshadow palettes featuring beautiful pigments in a variety of shades, its not difficult to see why Juvia’s Place has become a huge hit with beauty bloggers and YouTubers alike. Don’t fancy investing in a palette? No problem- you can also stock up on single eyeshadow shades. Surprisingly affordable for an indie brand gone viral, this brand won’t leave you out of pocket, but will leave you with a stunning eyeshadow palette in your makeup kit. 

Shea Moisture (

Praised for their use of natural ingredients that help to nourish skin and hair, Shea Moisture have expanded their range to include makeup and skincare, as well as their famous haircare products. Specialising in uber moisturising products for black hair, this brand was started in 1912 by Sofi Tucker, after she would sell shea nuts at the village market, and slowly started formulating products including shea in them. Her legacy is continued by her grandchildren, who have adapted the brand for the modern day, featuring foundations, eyeshadows and much more in their cosmetics range. 

Black Opal Beauty (

Launched in 1994, Black Opal Beauty was created in response to a lack of products that dealt with issues such as hyper pigmentation and oil control. They have recently undergone rebranding, creating sleek and modern packaging to house their innovative products. A huge range of foundations (many including SPF protection) in many different formulas, lipsticks, lip glosses, skincare and much more are included on their website, at a fraction of the price of your usual beauty brand. 

Featured photo: Credit to Black Up Cosmetics

Instagram Intersectionality: Even More Bloggers for the Feminist Makeup Lover

We are back again, with Part 2 of our intersectional Instagram piece! If you’d like to check out Part 1, link is here. Below are some more fantastic beauty bloggers to make your Instagram feed more intersectional and way more feminist!


Brandi specialises in “monolid” art. Monolids are common amongst Asian people, so her Instagram would be very beneficial, especially since the common trends (eg. cut creases) fail to adapt for people with monolids. Brandi showcases some fantastic eye looks, ranging from trendy glitter looks to modern, bright colours. This account is definitely worth a follow.


Stefania Ferrario is an activist, model and an artist that is determined to #droptheplus. Priding herself on being an “andro queen”, she banishes beauty standards in the best way possible- by slaying all day long! This is more of a fashion blog, rather than makeup, but it’s difficult to turn a blind eye to Stefania’s attitude and confidence.


Jordan Bone is a beauty blogger who has a passion for glamorous makeup looks. After a car crash ten years ago, Jordan became wheelchair bound and a tetraplegic, so is unable to open and close her hands, but still can do her makeup flawlessly, despite physical setbacks.


As you can probably tell from their account name, Arzo specialises in beauty for olive skin, creating an account that showcases makeup not just for white skin. She also does a lot of DIY beauty at home, including DIY facemasks and hairstyles, as well as mini tutorials. A great account with a great balance of everything!

Ellarie & Yoshidoll

These mother-and-daughter accounts showcase a beautiful mother, Ellarie, who creates incredible makeup looks and mini tutorials, as well as her adorable daughter, Yoshi. Over on Yoshi’s account (managed by Ellarie), we see fantastic hair tutorials for kids with black hair, whereas on Ellarie’s account, you will find straight up glamour. Follow both for an overload of sweetness!


Serving barbie-pink glam couture, this account will have you begging for more. A non-binary makeup artist, Sebastien always delivers with their beautifully crafted looks. Full of diversity, we can see a super conceptual look one day, and then glittery glamour the next. Give it a follow if you like a little bit of everything on your makeup feed!

Featured image: Credit to sebastienmua


Intersectional Instagram: Beauty Bloggers for the Feminist Makeup Lover

In an industry dominated by thin, cis, white bodies, it can be difficult to wade through to find intersectional blogs and influencers in the beauty industry. Listed below are some fabulous Instagram accounts that focus on beauty and makeup that break through the stereotypes of beauty standards, so our newsfeeds can be as intersectional as possible!

Thuy Le (@xthuyle)

With flawless skin and a wide array of colourful looks, Thuy Le is a makeup artist from London who not only blogs about makeup, but also skincare rituals and hair. Going from strength to strength, Le has been jumped 20,000 followers in just 2 weeks; take a peek at her page, and you will see why. 

Kristi (@RawBeautyKristi)

Kristi is a self-taught makeup blogger who not only shows off her glamorous looks, but also dabbles in special effects makeup. She placed in the Top 6 for the NYX Face Awards, dazzling us with her detailed and unique work. Her 31 days of Halloween series is pretty amazing, which is available on YouTube (trigger warning: gore).

Heather (sokolum)

A page littered with makeup, fashion, piercings and tattoos, you’ll want to follow Heather to get your dose of alternative beauty. Original and colourful, Heather finds a fine balance between wearable, everyday beauty and out-of-the-box designs. A fantastic page to follow, even if it’s just to appreciate her ever-changing hair colours!


This talented professional makeup artist is not only a beautician, but also a licensed hairstylist! With stunning pictures of her clients before and after the makeup application, this is a great account to follow if you want to see lots of different styles in one place (especially bridal makeup).

Ascher Lucas (@spectredeflector)

Destroying the stigma of boys’ wearing makeup, Ascher Lucas is a talented makeup artist, cosplayer and stuntman. Creating works of art of his face, this account has a very relaxed ambiance to it. You can also donate to Ascher’s fundraiser, which is raising money towards his top surgery (link in his Instagram bio).

Fifi Anicah (@fifi.anicah)

Described as a “modern day Frida Kahlo”, Fifi Anicah is a London based model, taking the world by storm, one “power brow” at a time. Fifi Anicah’s account will not only showcase her own modelling work, but will also show you how to constuct a full, natural unibrow that even Frida Kahlo would be envious of. 

Sabina Hannan (@sabinahannan)

If you crave glittery, glamorous makeup looks, this is the account for you. With an incredible YouTube channel to partner her Instagram account, Sabina Hannan’s makeup is always flawless.Sabina challenges the stigma of wearing makeup within the Muslim community.

Habiba (@makeupholic_moon)

A DIY godess, Habiba seems to be able to make a beauty remedy out of everything from your kitchen cupboard. Not only does she showcase some incredible makeup looks, she also will help you DIY your way to clear skin, using natural products you can find in your own home. She also reviews some wacky beauty tools, so be sure to check those out!

Shalom Blac (@shalom_blac)

An exceptionally talented artist, Shalom Blac fashion and beauty account has something for everyone. A burns’ victim, Shalom’s mini tutorials include a wide array of brands, ranging from high end to drug store; so no matter what your budget, you can follow along too!

Tania (@whentaniatalks)

A lifestyle and beauty blogger, Tania’s Instagram is beautifully minimalist and constructed beautifully. Mainly working from her blog of the same name, Tania balances out her beauty posts with lifestyle posts, updating her followers on her health, her journey with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, food allergies, and lots of other interesting things happening in her world.

Word Current: Genderqueer

 Genderqueer: Of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity cannot be categorized as solely male or female.
The top definition of genderqueer on states, “Genderqueer is most commonly used to describe a person who feels that his/her gender identity does not fit into the socially constructed “norms” associated with his/her biological sex. Genderqueer is an identity that falls anywhere between man/boy/male and woman/girl/female on the spectrum of gender identities.” This definition from 2004 seems outdated, especially with the lack of gender neutral pronouns. It seems to go into much more detail about identities associated with and used interchangeably with genderqueer. More current definitions include, “While genderqueer could be an identity in itself, some common genders that fall under the genderqueer umbrella are: agender, bigender, genderfluid, androgyne, ambigender and neutrois.”

As a result of prolific feminist authors such as Judith Butler (well known for her gender commentary in “Gender Trouble” from 1990), ‘genderqueer ‘became a term used within the LGBTQ+ lexicon in the late 90’s. This came from frustration of the community at the general lack of non-binary terms relating to expression of gender and its fluidity. However, before this, it was sometimes used within the drag community as a means of taking back gender identity, rather than using labels given to them by others. Around this time, genderqueer had a slightly different definition – mainly someone who expressed their gender “queerly”, or anything other than typically feminine or masculine. The use of the suffix “queer” was pushed because it was initially used as a pejorative –  the community decided to own the label. 

In the late 90’s, there was a rise in criticism of genderqueer falling under the transgender umbrella. Transgender activist, Leslie Feinburg, fiercely campaigned to have everything other than cisgender beneath the transgender label. However, individuals who identified as genderqueer argued that whilst some genderqueer folks might fit into the trans label, there was a portion of the community who used genderqueer as a form of gender expression. This second group argued that due to the confusion between the terms, transgender and transsexual, they wanted a label that was completely separate from the transgender umbrella.

gender1Genderqueer became more frequent used when gender activist and founder of Gender Public Advocacy Coalition (GenderPAC), Riki Anne Wilchins, adopted the label for themselves and urged others to consider it too. It was also around this time that genderqueer folks quickly became absorbed into the last efforts of the Riot Grrrl movement, with newsletters circulating the community urging genderqueer people to network with each other. However, this movement seemed to exclusively focus on people who were assigned as female at birth and who tended to express masculine qualities, rather than genderqueer people from all over the spectrum.

Enter the 2000’s, where the number of people who identified as genderqueer was growing. Organizations and charities were also trying to raise awareness of the label, as well as the issues genderqueer people faced. In 2001, we saw the launch of The United Genders Of The Universe organization, whose aim was to be “the only all-ages genderqueer support group, open to everyone who views gender as having more than two options.” Around this time “The Gender Neutral Issue” was published by the McGill Tribune in 2003, which emphasized the ongoing case to have gender neutral bathrooms across the globe.

Nowadays, we have people who are much more public about identifying as genderqueer and other gender identities, such as Miley Cyrus and Ruby Rose, who stated, “I feel very gender fluid and feel more like I wake up everyday gender neutral”. Rose is known for their androgynous looks and challenging gender stereotypes by stepping outside the gender binary.

In recent years, genderqueer has become a much more openly used term within the LGBTQ+ community. There is now a symbol and a flag designed explicitly for the gender label. With the rise in awareness of gender identities outside the gender binary, we are slowly but surely starting to see genderqueer and similar labels being acknowledged in public. Alan Cumming, who frequently uses inclusive terms and pronouns even said at the Tony Awards, “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and those of you who don’t identify as either.” Even though this inclusive wording is still less frequently used in society, it is slowly, but surely on the rise.

Hairy, Angry Feminist: Why I Put Down My Razor

As of October last year, I stopped shaving my armpits. Of course, I’d heard of other feminists doing it, and thought it was pretty damn awesome. Yet, I never mustered up the strength to throw out my disposable razors and go “au naturale.”

Oddly enough, I hadn’t shaved my legs consistently for about a year before I stopped shaving my pits. I didn’t really show my legs off, so didn’t see the need. However, every time I jumped into the shower, I always made sure my underarms were smooth as a baby’s bottom. That was, until the next day, where a furiously itchy, red, bumpy rash made my armpits feel like they were on fire. It was one particularly bad occasion that made me impulsively throw out my razors, and I have never returned to them.

I have always felt that body hair is a personal choice, so it never seemed like a big deal to stop shaving. I would love to tell people  I stopped shaving to fight the patriarchy and to combat society’s beauty standards, because that sounds much more impressive than “because I got a rash.” And whilst, I suppose, my passion for feminism has given me the carefree attitude to dump the razors, it was more for comfort than a political outcry.

However, it seems that regardless of my explanation, people always associate my hairy armpits with me being a bra-burning, hairy, angry feminist. Even when at my liberal and loving workplace, I have to cover up my underarms due to a few awkward conversations with customers regarding my body hair choices. I feel uncomfortable wearing tops with no sleeves, just because I do not want to have to explain myself everywhere I go. The stereotypes have already been set in place, and I fit all the criteria.

I am hoping that when I move to art university in a few weeks, that I will be among open-minded people who will not care about whether I’m shaven or not, but I know this is a pipe dream. I am always going to come across people who do not agree with me, and are not interested in my reasons for growing out my armpit hair, but I’m okay that. And I’m okay with being an angry, hairy feminist. I just wish everyone else was.

Send In The Clowns: The Power Of Makeup

I love makeup.

There, I said it. Taking the time to do my makeup—concealer, foundation, eyeshadow, eyeliner, brows— is a large part of my morning (and self-care) routine. Now, as feminists, we know that makeup should be applied out of choice, rather than obligation to society and/or our significant others–but I love it. I love the ability to transform my face in 30 minutes, and emerge from my bedroom looking as if I have had way more hours of beauty sleep than I actually did. My obsession is often questioned, by feminists and non-feminists alike.  Yet people rarely ask me why I love doing my makeup.

I started to question why other people wore makeup. There were clearly others like me, who loved the preparation to face the day. Obviously there were some who liked the connotations of makeup, making them feel “girly” or “feminine.” But what about those of us who do feel obliged to wear makeup? I found that some of us feel “boring” or “plain” if we don’t wear makeup, as if people won’t acknowledge us. Similarly, there have been times when I feel like I have been silenced by other feminists because I wear makeup, and am seen as “playing into the patriarchy’s view of women” and “hurting my cause.”  This is not true. Regardless of what you enjoy, feminism encourages all people to be as unique as they want, regardless of whether that is stereotypically feminine, masculine, or androgynous.

I decided to create a set of images based on these various reasons why we decide to wear, or not wear, makeup. I did this by photographing head shots of my fellow students, and then printing out their head shots. I then hand painted actual makeup onto the shots, in an over-the-top fashion, using garish bright colours layered on continuously. Some of these are black and white images, representing how makeup can “brighten” their lives. In some color images,  I used foundation to cover up the mouths, therefore “silencing” my subjects.

! could argue that there are more important things for feminists to be worrying about than makeup.  Everyone has their own unique reasons for embracing certain things, like different hairstyles, makeup or clothing, and it is important as feminists to take a small step towards creating a more accepting future for everyone.


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Know Your Own Anatomy: Not All That Glitters is Gold

I never fail to laugh when my boyfriend tells me the story of when he discovered that the female anatomy had *gasp* not one genital orifice— but two. However, it made me question how in depth I knew my own body. It was a slightly awkward encounter when my notes on the vagina fell out of my bag in a photography class, and hilarity ensued when my peers realized that I didn’t know parts of my body.

It was only when I questioned them on which was the labia minora and which was the labia majora that the laughter stopped—we realized that none of us knew. I found that I needed to know this information not only for my own benefit, but also for the purpose of the discovery of my own feminism. I needed to know anatomical references in order to be a trans ally—to explain to people that not all women have vaginas, and that not all people who have vaginas identify as a woman. By knowing the anatomical break-down of the vagina, I can explain to people why this is.17002923122_464f9a31c4_o

I found that making the following photo-set not only allowed me to experiment with glitter (I was covered in it for days after), but also allowed me to test my own knowledge of a topic I seemed to berate people about. Needless to say, I knew hardly as much as I thought I did. I wanted to draw attention to what was happening inside our bodies, and combat the parts which were sexualized everyday, or are highlighted as being important on a body, such as nipples and hair follicles.

I would encourage everyone to investigate their own anatomy—as well as other anatomies— and to be honest about what you know about your own body. Be willing to explore your own body to see variation of anatomy. You may be surprised on what you know. 16381941044_0490de1906_o 16818146929_7ee20707cd_o

Grasping Intersectionality, One Photo At A Time

I discovered feminism through photography. Whilst my beliefs were already set in place, I never had a label for it. I was dissatisfied with the same landscapes and “indie” object photography that my college regurgitated at me every lecture, and decided that I was going to do something different.

Growing up in Wales, we aren’t the most progressive when it comes to equality. Life is slow here, and nobody likes change. So when I produced my first set of images showing two pairs of underwear with pubic hair spewing out, my lecturer was a little shocked. More than a little shocked– she hated it. However, I am a little stubborn, so I kept going anyway. I knew I had made the right choice.

For my final unit, I decided to focus on intersectionality within feminism. I realised that many of my pieces lacked the diversity that justified it. So, I dedicated my unit to exploring intersectionality and trying to piece it together in photographs. I interviewed each of the individuals about various different topics, and then took a quote from this interview and layered it over a portrait of the individual. I wanted to highlight individuals within feminism, and how we have to look at feminism from different angles, rather than just face on. I discovered thoughts and feelings that I wouldn’t have stumbled across in everyday conversation, and I developed a greater understanding of not only the individuals I photographed, but my own feminism as well.17149385125_94a987ddc0_o16961609048_f9904ab44b_o16961840120_752dffea78_o16961603988_46752ac37d_o16961837000_2285ae4cbb_o