Daughters Do Their Moms’ Makeup For A Photo Shoot Focused On Real Beauty
Putting on makeup is a coming-of-age ritual for many young women (and some men). Most of them grow up watching their mothers and other female relatives applying makeup, and countless articles have been written over the decades about the proper methods of wearing it. Makeup is fun, but its downside speaks to a culture that tightly controls the appearance of women, and dictates what women should and should not look like.
Canadian photographer Elly Heise decided to confront the ideas of beauty, femininity and self-expression in her series #Daughterdoesmymakeup, which sees small girls applying makeup to their mother’s faces. The hashtag in the title also references self-portraits as they appear online, in the form of selfies, and how they have added to accessible self-expression and simultaneously been criticized as a symbol of narcissism and vanity. Much the same could be said for makeup. To create a new way of looking at beauty and expression, Heise invited young girls and their moms to her studio and allowed the girls to apply makeup to their mothers’ faces.
Naturally, the girls had fun, and gleefully decorated their moms. Some stuck to the conventions of makeup (eye shadow on the eyelids, lipstick on the lips), and some threw tradition out the window and went to town with colors. “One thing I noticed about the girls that came in is that they were the happiest with the messiest elements of their work. It made me question the true definition of beauty and how subjective it really is,” Heise says of her project. The observation led her to wonder about the way girls are “conditioned at a young age to spend their lives endlessly trying to meet impossibly idealized standards of beauty,” as Heise puts it, and how freedom of honest self-expression can be the price of that conditioning. After the makeup was applied, Heise photographed the women in standard “glamour” poses.
Besides being a fun day for the mothers and daughters, Heise hopes that her project, which, given its hashtag, lends itself to becoming a viral phenomenon, will make people stop and think about gendered beauty. “I want this to inspire people to re-question their own definition of beauty in the same way it did for me, and to re-consider what we are really raising our younger generations to believe in.”