I watch most of what Vogue puts on YouTube, especially the “Diary of a Model” videos and makeup tutorials. There’s something just really pleasant and relaxing about them. But if you wanna talk fascinating, then you should watch their “Extreme Beauty” series (which is relatively new). It’s very similar to the usual beauty routine format, except that the focus is on people who pursue an extreme aesthetic.
(As an aside, I’d like to recommend to my readers that you take a good look at the pictures I’m about to show you. For some of you, this isn’t going to be shocking, but if you do find it startling, then take a second, steel yourself, and look again. These are all just people, and it would be silly to let yourself be afraid).
Hannah Rose Dalton and Steven Raj Bhaskaran are a couple from Montreal who met in design school. Together, they developed a brand called Fecal Matter, a title that they describe as “the perfect name…as it reflects how we feel about the fashion business and its constant contribution to the cycle of waste.” They also DJ, which is very cool.
In this video for Vogue, they take you through the 3-hour makeup process that they do on a daily basis, because yes, they look extreme all the time. That’s their art, and they’ve dedicated themselves to it fully.
Here’s their finished look.
They made a point of saying that, although presenting yourself like this seems attention-seeking, that’s not really what they want. They’ve gotten harassed and spit on; they’ve been accused of doing drugs and all kinds of other bullshit. “It would be way easier not to look like this,” says Steven, “but there’s…a satisfying feeling knowing that you’re not ashamed of who you are.”
Juno Birch (from Manchester, England) describes herself as an alien queen who crash-landed on Earth in 1962, and has been trying to (somewhat clumsily) dress like a lady every since.
Her first words in the video are “Hello, I’m Juno Birch, and I’m stunning.” (A level of confidence I heartily approve of).
She’s also a sculptor, and says that she likes an exaggerated sense of artificial beauty. Besides helping pay the rent, her art is often a way for her to design looks that she will then use on herself. This was also the sort of style that she would draw as a kid, so the over-the-top vibes have been with her from the very beginning.
“Her name is Linda,” Birch says, “and she goes shopping in the supermarket for human groceries. She’s stunning. She’s an alien. She’s a stunning alien.”
Jazmin Bean is an Indie musician from the London area, and their inspiration comes from both the dolls they grew up with and “creatures.” They say that with humans (I’m paraphrasing this), the features are very limited, whereas with animals, there’s so much variety, e.g. reptiles, fish, mammals, etc. Which is why one of the first things they do with their makeup is to sort of disguise the human nose. Looking more or less like a hybrid monster is definitely the idea.
“I feel like people see me as something really dangerous and evil. A lot of mothers will put their hands over their kids’ eyes so that they don’t have to look at me…when really I’m just a lil’ baddie wanting to go and just buy some food.”
A pleasant surprise in this video is that Jazmin’s grandmother takes them out to pizza at the end, and it’s so nice to see an extreme person being loved unconditionally by their family. That’s not often the case, unfortunately.
“I’ve never been interested in doing looks purely for the internet or…for a creative project. I’ve always loved just looking like this for my day-to-day life.”
Salvia, who happens to be a good friend of Jazmin’s, is an artist from Wales who also lives in the London area. She pursues an aesthetic that she describes as not quite alien, but more like a human that’s been heavily modified. She likes tubes, for example, which she uses as prosthetics on her face–she likes the medical look of them.
“Sometimes just living and going out and interacting with the world can be its own performance…because it can be so theatrical…I think everybody’s doing that. I don’t think that’s something that’s exclusive to me; I think everybody does that in their own way.”
That’s a sentiment I, myself, have expressed on this very blog. I certainly agree. We all paint on our own masks every single day; we all want to be seen in a particular light. Part of being human is the need for self-expression, and the variety that the human imagination can produce is astounding.
“I definitely get frustrated by how limiting physics can be, and biology can be. I don’t think there should really be any limits.”
By the way, the look you see above, which she does in the Vogue video, is what she wears for a bike ride around the village.
Bavarian artist Hungry, who lives and works in Berlin, does something they call “distorted drag.” Fascinated by symmetry, they have created an insect-inspired aesthetic.
The eye-catching prosthetic they wear in the picture above is specially made and fits in the nose, easily removable when needed. It’s the cherry on top of a very specific vibe, and it’s certainly one of the most unique things I’ve ever seen.
They describe themselves as the “local bug lady,” and in the video, they put together a look inspired by a “successful 80s businesswoman.” This ensemble is what they wear to, as they say, “take myself out to a nice dinner.”
“One of the first words that I learned the meaning of in Berlin was ‘relevance.’ A lot of the reactions I get are just not relevant to my life; they’re just not relevant to who I am, to what I am, and to my story.”
This statement obviously implicates the negative or hateful reactions, which are sadly a part of every extreme person’s life. I wish that didn’t have to be the case, but it’s very common all over the world for people to have little minds. I do hope, though, that, through the exposure that Vogue is giving them (and that I’m giving them in a much smaller way), these fascinating creatives will gain more appreciation.
I’ll tell you one thing, if you like to watch movies, you have no business acting hateful to extreme beauty artists. They are all amateurs who practiced and practiced, and ultimately reached the skill-level of professional movie makeup artists.
Shapeshifting is possible! All it takes is hours and hours of art.
To put it at its most basic, it stimulates the brain.
The truth is, we already have all of that vastness right here on Earth, amidst the human race. It would be in our best interest all around to embrace the limitless ways that we express ourselves. It’s just like music. We have everything from Classical to Death Metal, and it’s because there’s a different kind of music inside each of us. We should all have the freedom to let our souls sing. At whatever frequency comes naturally.
At the very least, doesn’t this make you feel a bit more relaxed about your own self-imposed imperfections? Doesn’t it help to know that different people find different things pleasing to the eye? If there are individuals out there who are in love with the macabre, or fascinated by the symmetry of insects, or find beauty in the monstrous, then don’t you imagine there are people in this world who would think you’re stunning exactly as you are?
“I have a very strong vision of what I want and what I consider to be beautiful…” says Salvia.
And I believe we all do. We all know what pleases us. But how many of us have the guts to pursue those things? To take what we really want out of this life? To be truly, fully authentic?
For all their variety, these extreme people do share similar experiences. For one, they are all dedicated enough to make major aesthetic choices, like shaving their eyebrows off, and they are perfectly willing to wear uncomfortable or painful accessories. Every one of them said it was worth it to achieve the fantasy in their head.
All of them were naturally drawn to their chosen aesthetic from a young age, which really isn’t a surprise. All people are more or less their own selves from the moment they’re born. I had my personal likes and dislikes when I was a kid, like anyone else. It just goes to show you that what comes naturally goes well beyond what we call “normal.”
Most of them faced bullying and other traumas as they were growing up, which they overcame. Not one of them bent to the petty will of others. They didn’t suppress themselves for the approval of their peers. They stubbornly live their lives as they wish. This is something I greatly admire, but I do find it sad that they have to endure the abuse and harassment that they consistently get.
Stupid people shouldn’t be a hazard, but they are, in fact, the worst hazard in the world.
And as I’ve said in the past, bullies and bigots are not welcome on my page. If you have been filled with hate and disgust by this post, exit my site immediately, and don’t ever click on my link again.
“People in general need to be exposed to this type of thing,” says Jazmin Bean, and I agree.
Speaking for myself, the older I’ve gotten, the more bored I’ve become with people who try to all look basically the same, who all just repeat the same ideas and sentiments over and over. One thing I noticed about these extreme artists is that none of them live in America, and that doesn’t surprise me. This is not an especially tolerant country. Where I live, you can get harassed for having a nose piercing–I’d be legitimately scared for the safety of someone who showed up to the grocery store looking like an alien.
But that being said, the more people are exposed to differences, the more normalized those differences gradually become. Imagine a world free of bigotry. Imagine how much more we would get to see. If we would only let people feel safe, we would never be bored again.
“I think in order to live life in a way that’s as fulfilling as possible, it’s important to address your fears and…push yourself as far as possible, and never really stop.” –Salvia
Have a beautiful week.