I have a confession to make: I love watching beauty vloggers.
Really, really love watching beauty vloggers.
At first, I had a good excuse. A practical one anyway.
While I’ve always admired femme style of dress, I didn’t have a maternal figure in my life early on who could teach me how to do makeup. Either directly, by giving me lessons. Or even indirectly, by being able to watch someone put it on.
Appearance was important to my mother. But my mother preferred to go barefaced and wear men’s clothes that were too large for her. To starve herself until her clothes swam on her.
She didn’t want anything to stick to her, to showcase any ounce of extra fat she could have.
She was beautiful, my mother. And she would have been beautiful even without starving herself. But she could never see that.
And to her own eyes, she always looked ugly.
The one maternal figure I had who did wear makeup was my grandmother. She made a habit of wearing bright lipstick. It was her beauty calling card. She said a big smile camouflaged weakness or insecurity so other people couldn’t see it (and either take advantage of it or pity you, which to her was arguably worse). So she put on lipstick and smiled huge. But lipstick was all she did makeup-wise.
My other maternal figure, my older sister, was butch. She was irresistible to the women she met and dated — but definitely not someone to teach me about makeup, either directly or indirectly.
That left my friends to learn from. I did my best to pick up tactics. But friends my own age weren’t patient teachers. They didn’t explain things well. And they often guarded the best secrets for themselves, perhaps not wanting to give up a competitive edge as we approached the same dating pool.
(While I was bisexual and even went on to date some of these same sex friends, friendships between women when I was a child and teenager always had an unfortunate edge of weird competition. Sadly.)
The YouTube School of Cosmetology
I expressed this to a friend of mine a few years back, that I’d never really learned how to do makeup and wished I had because I kept seeing looks I liked but couldn’t emulate them. And they suggested I start learning on YouTube as an adult.
This was ultimately some of the best advice I ever got.
I learned a ton of practical techniques — and quite quickly.
And I did find that when I approached my beauty-savvy friends now that I was a grown woman, they were happy to answer my questions.
And the videos had given me just enough knowledge to phrase those specific questions intelligently.
Sometimes this meant that they referred me to yet another beauty vlogger. Other times they were able to explain or demonstrate.
But in any event, I figured out enough makeup-wise to get by.
I still don’t wear very makeup much unless I’m prepping for a big professional thing or a fancy night out. It’s not even something I do every day, wear makeup.
But I’m no longer intimidated by it.
I Still Watch Beauty Vloggers — and Find Them Oddly Reassuring
These days I still like to watch beauty vloggers. Even though I don’t have a practical reason.
I’m not really trying to learn anything. I’m not that interested in the product reviews.
But I find them oddly reassuring.
They make videos based on an entirely different values system. While it’s impossible to paint an entire group with the same brush, they generally focus on appearances far more than I ever do. Their professional lives anyway are built around it.
They’re typically closer to society’s ideal than I am. They look fantastic. The ones with their own beauty lines are certainly making more money with their hustle than I do as a writer (which is a difficult career even when you hustle and do well).
What they do is generally speaking conforming better to societal standards.
And yet… people still attack them. Ferociously sometimes.
They don’t have anything close to universal approval. Or freedom from criticism. Or anything that I was taught to strive for as a young girl.
It’s too easy to confuse one’s own expected universally human reality of struggling (being attacked or criticized by some) with persecution. Especially for sensitive people (as I am, I’m ridiculously sensitive).
It’s reassuring and quite grounding to see people who have come quite close to certain standards of societal perfection meeting with similar irritations.
To realize I have something in common with the “perfect” people, whether they’d realize it themselves or not.