Glamour and Beauty in Pop Culture

I didn’t wake up one morning and decide that I wanted to devote time, energy and money on elaborate skincare and makeup routines and products. Much of my interest has stemmed from certain iconic moments in film, literature, and pop culture. I’ve compiled some of these pivotal moments that have left an indelible impression on my perception of beauty and continue to inspire and fascinate me today! I bet you’ll be surprised at the variety, but you’ll notice a common thread; a focus on beautiful, diverse, seductive and interesting women, both real and fictional.


Memoirs of a Geisha: Chiyo’s Transformation

Oh my goodness, did I love this movie! Zhang Ziyi and Michelle Yeoh are two of the most beautiful women on the planet in my opinion (you might’ve seen them starring in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”). In this film, Ziyi plays a Japanese girl sold by her parents to a Geisha house where she is trained to be an apprentice geisha by Michelle Yeoh. This story and culture encapsulates something so exotic and beautiful; I’d argue the antithesis of western beauty. Clearly in this montage you can see the emphasis put on beautiful skin and precise makeup. This theme has bleed into the skincare industry, notably with Japanese brand, Tatcha. The brand essentially markets “geisha skin”, which has prompted me to purchase their products (they are glorious, by the way). I probably would not have done so, if not for this movie!


Edie Sedgwick in Poor Little Rich Girl

Andy Warhol’s tragic superstar, Edie Sedgwick, had her breakthrough role in Warhol’s film, “Poor Little Rich Girl”. The first parts are blurry images of Edie in her bedroom listening to records in a bra and panties. Eventually, everything sharpens and you can see her, dazzling, vulnerable, and heavily made up. In a future post, I would like to cover Edie more thoroughly as she remains a fascinating icon of 1960s pop culture, but to me, she’s so much more than that. In this underground hit film, you see her continue to apply makeup from her cluttered vanity to her beautiful face in such a charming way. She later said that she made her face into a mask, not realizing she was quite beautiful. Though her relationship to her own beauty and to makeup may have been skewed, unhealthy or simply as normal as any other woman’s, she was undoubtably glamorous in her excess and originality.


Lisa Eldridge’s Marilyn Monroe Tutorial

Lise Eldridge is a world class makeup artist that has been producing incredible videos for her website while acting as an ambassador for a variety of brands, most recently Lancôme, in addition to painting the faces of international models and celebrities. I believe my first introduction to her was this tutorial, where she goes into great detail about the history of Marilyn Monroe’s classic look as well as how to achieve it. Marilyn remains one of the most iconic beauties of all time and the techniques to achieve her glowing skin, bedroom eyes, and juicy red lips are as fascinating as her relationship to her makeup artist and confidante, Allan “Whitey” Snyder! Lisa also has a very palpable passion for makeup, skincare and beauty, which comes across in all of her videos and in her fabulous coffee table book, Facepaint.


Adwoa Aboah’s Cover on the December Issue of British Vogue, 2017

This was the debut cover for editor-in-chief of British Vogue, Edward Enninful. Considered a triumph by the fashion industry, my own reaction was that of pure awe. Cover star, the stunning model Adwoa Aboah, photographed by Stephen Meisel, was not someone I was familiar with at the time. As you can see, she is dressed impeccably, but the real focus for me was her gorgeous, radiant skin, with its delicate smattering of freckles, coupled with colorful eye and lip makeup reminiscent of the 1980s. That modern twists include her delicately bleached eyebrows and her relatively untouched skin outside of her eyes and mouth. So fresh, beautiful and to me, a departure from the norm, which is always exciting and welcome. There’s a confidence that emanates from her expression, as if she was always meant to be there on this cover and all covers. I love it!


Quote from Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles

Gemma Arterton in the BBC’s 2008 Miniseries, Tess of the D’Urbervilles

“How very lovable her face was to him. Yet there was nothing ethereal about it; all was real vitality, real warmth, real incarnation. And it was in her mouth that this culminated. Eyes almost as deep and speaking he had seen before, and cheeks perhaps as fair; brows as arched, a chin and throat almost as shapely; her mouth he had seen nothing to equal on the face of the earth. To a young man with the least fire in him that little upward lift in the middle of her red top lip was distracting, infatuating, maddening. He had never before seen a woman’s lips and teeth which forced upon his mind with such persistent iteration the old Elizabethan simile of roses filled with snow. Perfect, he, as a lover, might have called them off-hand. But no — they were not perfect. And it was the touch of the imperfect upon the would-be perfect that gave the sweetness, because it was that which gave the humanity.”


Jessica Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

I can’t even count how many times I attempted to be Jessica Rabbit for Halloween, but I abandoned the pursuit because I didn’t want to half-ass such an iconic character in one of my favorite films growing up. She’s so glamorous and beautiful with the Veronica Lake hair, purple eyeshadow, and red lips; all matching her slinky outfit. Plus, a Kathleen Turner voice? Come on! Besides loving this movie on so many levels, as a young girl I definitely associated Jessica with sexiness and womanly power. This scene is the embodiment of all of that. Bob Haskell knows it too…


Honorable Mention: The Intro to Mommie Dearest

This only gets an honorable mention because I would not recommend using harsh bar soap and a hard bristled brush to scrub the hell out of your face with piping hot water (Joan Crawford must’ve been a masochist). What I love about it though is the vigor with which she cleans herself. That she keeps a bowl of ice under her skin overnight, pours what appears to be alcohol in it and presses it into her face; that’s a brave woman and all for the sake of beauty. I also love the vintage head wraps, presumably serving an anti-aging purpose, and that pink shower! Could you die? After precision lip liner, concealer and mascara application, we are finally introduced to “Joan” in a dramatic chair turn. Very glamorous and very extra.


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