February 13, 2018

"The full-beat face has become the ubiquitous face of the Internet, a strange mirror of Kim Kardashian’s visage but also somehow just like Internet influencer Huda Kattan’s and Kylie Jenner’s, too."

"Instagram is awash in full-beat glory.... Save for variations in skin color and precise shade of shimmering eye shadow, the women all look uncannily the same. It’s the 'Instagram look'... 'When you take a picture, you lose the dimension on your face. The light will wash it away.' Over time, savvy ’Grammers realized that with a small mountain of makeup...  you could replace the shadows and the light... [You need] 'an elongated eye, lashes, contouring, bronzing, highlighting, and sculpting'... A theatrical set of drawn-on brows. And finally... a matte lip so overdrawn that it can look like an allergic reaction.... [T]he goal is to give yourself features you don’t actually possess: brighter, bigger eyes, a narrower, daintier nose, eyes so fringed in false lashes that they look as if they can’t possibly bear the weight. 'We’re a walking painting'..."

From "Brows, contour, lips, lashes: How the ‘full-beat face’ took over the Internet" (WaPo).

These things go in cycles. I can't believe that young people won't come to associate heavy makeup with the older generation and to rediscover the special attraction of looking natural while you have the gift of youth. As for older women, I can't believe they don't see themselves as garish and clownlike in heavy makeup. Yet if people don't live in the real world but only in photographs and video, then maybe stage makeup is where we will end up. In that case, the argument shouldn't be give up the horridly heavy makeup but: Return to living in the natural world.

I have a vague hope that the new generation will acquire an aversion to photography.

Or... here's an idea for one of my unwritten books. It's science fiction: It turns out actually to be true — as some seemingly ill-informed people have long believed — that photography steals a person's soul. These poor people who have been doing those ever more exaggerated "full-beat" faces in fact lost their souls a while back, perhaps somewhere around the 1,000th selfie.

49 comments:

rhhardin said...

Zuleika was not strictly beautiful. Her eyes were a trifle large, and their lashes longer than they need have been. An anarchy of small curls were her chevelure, a dark upland of misrule, every hair asserting its rights over a not discreditable brow. For the rest, her features were not at all original. They seemed to have been derived rather from a gallimaufry of familiar models. From Madame la Marquise de Saint-Ouen came the shapely tilt of the nose. The mouth was a mere replica of Cupid's bow, lacquered scarlet and strung with the littlest pearls. No apple tree, no wall of peaches, had not been robbed, nor any Tyrian rose-garden, for the glory of Miss Dobson's cheeks. Her neck was imitation-marble. Her hands and feet were of very mean proportions. She had no waist to speak of.

Zuleika Dobson, Max Beerbohm

CJinPA said...

here's an idea for one of my unwritten books. It's science fiction: It turns out actually to be true — as some seemingly ill-informed people have long believed — that photography steals a person's soul. These poor people who have been doing those ever more exaggerated "full-beat" faces in fact lost their souls a while back, perhaps somewhere around the 1,000th selfie.

And, to get their soul back, they are told they must take just as many photos of other people, without their knowledge, so that they lose THEIR souls and the soulless will win theirs back.

It was a test, of course. By trying to steal the souls of the innocent, they finally actually DO lose their souls. John Malkovich will play a role in the movie version. Whichever role he wants.

Ann Althouse said...

I've read that book. Zuleika Dobson.

Sebastian said...

Hey, rh, speaking of books to write: you could do The Presentation of Unself in Everyday Life.

Fernandistein said...

Eyes should be large, round to oval in shape. Small and/or almond shaped eyes are undesirable and are to be faulted. Eyes are to be dark brown to nearly black in color. Dark eyes are always preferred. Blue eye(s) or any portion of blue in the eye(s), as well as both eyes not being of the same color, shall disqualify.

A prominent arch should begin above the eyes and then flatten backwards towards the occiput; viewed from the top it has a square appearance due to the zygomatic arches. Well defined forehead due to developed and bulging frontal sinuses and prominent arch above the eyes.

Ann Althouse said...

The soulless Instagrammers are teaching others to do the makeup, which is only sensible as something for selfies. It just makes you scary and unapproachable in the real world. So the soulless ones are making tutorials that lure more and more people into a way of life that will cause them to lose their soul.

It's a variation on zombies.

"And, to get their soul back, they are told they must take just as many photos of other people, without their knowledge, so that they lose THEIR souls and the soulless will win theirs back."

This goes well with my idea of the younger generation acquiring an aversion to getting their photographs taken.

Note that the souls would be lost not just by selfie-takers or by soulless ones trying to do surreptitious photography (not sure why that would get your soul back) but by mothers wrecking their children and wondering what's wrong with them. Just a phase? Hell, no. You created a soulless one.

Earnest Prole said...

I have a vague hope that the new generation will acquire an aversion to photography.

To the new generation, photography is like breathing, entirely unconscious and unquestioned. From before they could remember, ubiquitous images appeared to them on electronic devices, defining their entire existence and their experience of the world. It's like David Foster Wallace's famous "What the hell is water?" analogy: What the hell is photography?

madAsHell said...

Patrick Starrr in the video. Flaming!!

buwaya said...

intra-female competition on instagram?
Of course.

You really don't see this on actual young women IRL, or I don't see much of the sort of circles where it would, but I don't think I am wrong here.

And this sort of photography will die out as soon as mirrors do.
It is that very female mix of vanity and insecurity and group dynamics.

David said...

It's quite possible they had vacant souls far before they became obsessed with photographing themselves.

Leland said...

Watching the picture at the top load reminded me of this scene from For Your Eyes Only

tcrosse said...

You really don't see this on actual young women

In Vegas one does.

Otto said...

.....the soul...."Is that blasphemy uttered by our leading reasonist?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Starrr — who in the real world is a 28-year-old Los Angeles makeup artist named Patrick Simondac — gestures triumphantly at his work. “Now,” he announces, “this is what you call snatched.”

I'd be willing to bet that a makeup artist who goes by the name Starrr ( yes, with three 'r's ) wouldn't know a snatch if it was staring him in the face.

Carol said...

It's amazing how many photos people take of their lives now. I'm 69 and have damn few photos documenting the Amazing Story of My Fabulous Life. I admit back then I was afraid of not truly living the experience if I were taking photos as if outside looking in.

It was a hippie thing I guess.

stever said...


"I'd be willing to bet that a makeup artist who goes by the name Starrr (yes, with three 'r's ) wouldn't know a snatch if it was staring him in the face."

Yep

Nonapod said...

When people look back upon this era with its preponderance of individuals who took thousands of "selfies", I wonder what they will make of it? Will future people be less concerned about how they appear? Or is this just the tip of the narcissistic iceberg? Will there be some kind of futuristic simulacrum that is analogous to the selfie? Like some kind of 3D holo-projection in augmented reality?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

The full-beat face has become the ubiquitous face of the Internet...

Rob Porter's wife was unavailable for comment...

CJinPA said...

Note that the souls would be lost not just by selfie-takers or by soulless ones trying to do surreptitious photography (not sure why that would get your soul back)

They are stealing the souls of those they photograph (so they target people who they think are better people, better souls)?

Amadeus 48 said...

This morning I was in our workout room, and another resident had the TV on GMA with the sound off. The guest of the morning was a woman named Rebekah Martinez, who had been on The Bachelor and recently was eliminated. With the sound off, she looked like an animatronic creation--perfect maquillage, eyes flashing, dimples dimpling, smiles coming and going with no affect at all, no frowns, no hesitations in her blabbing--it was creepy.
I thought to myself, now humans are imitating robots. It was soulless. It was sad.

n.n said...

Selfie sounds so selfish. Whoever conceived the selfie meme was a marketing genius. A juxtaposition of nude and porn, of love and sex, of self-portrait and selfie, of character and diversity, of life and abortion.

tcrosse said...

It's 1980 or so, at the wedding of my then sister-in-law. She was a cute young thing, but for her wedding she went full stage make-up as it was in those days. Back then they used to add color to the cheeks to give the illusion of high cheekbones. Before the service, her prospective mother-in-law spit on a hankie and started wiping off the poor girl's excess make-up. My then-wife sidled up to her and said that we'd cover for her if she wanted to make a run for it. She missed the opportunity, but made her escape a few years later. The point of this story is that the full-beat face is nothing new.

buwaya said...

" smiles coming and going with no affect at all, no frowns, no hesitations in her blabbing--it was creepy. "

Its professional. Its patter. They practice.
Seen it on plenty of pro salespeople and "trainers".

Earnest Prole said...

For those who have not seen David Foster Wallace's analogy:

There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how's the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and says, “What the hell is water?"

Digital images are the new generation's water.

Howard said...

The Patriarchy... is there nothing it can't improve?

Howard said...

I call them smelfies because the photo always looks like the face of someone whom likes the smell of their own gaseous emissions.

Peter said...

I have a vague hope that the new generation will acquire an aversion to photography.

Baby steps. First tattoos, then photography.

walter said...

The painted brows always strike me as a cover for being sickly.
Not a look worth striving for...

walter said...

I bet a lot of these folks raise a stink about imagery portraying "unrealistic" bodies.

Nancy Reyes said...

we've reached the point where all white people look alike.

Sydney said...

I have never understood the desire for painted eyebrows. They always, always, look fake. Don't understand them on the 50's icons, don't understand them now.

whswhs said...

I think that would be urban fantasy, technically.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

The idea that photography actually does steal our souls is worth thinking about. Thanks.

Roughcoat said...

Want to see garishly made-up women? Have a look at illustrations of ancient Chinese noblewomen, especially those resident in the imperial courts. Also noble-born Japanese women from ancient times right up into and through the period of modernization in the 19th Century. Aristocratic women in East Asian societies of antiquity and the Middle Ages really overdid their cosmetic applications, to grotesque extremes. Chinese women compounded the effect by mutilating their feet, binding them to keep them dainty-small. Ancient Egyptian women wore wigs and lots of eye-makeup but were, by contrast with their East Asian sisters, relatively subdued and actually quite breathtaking in their slender small-breasted loveliness. Minoan women also wore lots of make-up and piled their hair up and affected spitty curls on their cheeks but they also showed their tits so they get kudos for that. But the women of pre-Colombian Mesoamerica really take the cake in terms of garish grotesque make-up. Talk about barbaric splendor . . .

gilbar said...

it amazes me how many people think that if something important is happening, they have to shield their eyes with a camera's viewfinder.
About a third of the people that heard I was going to Wyoming to see the eclipse told me:
"make Sure to get pictures!!!!"
and I was like; "it's going to be the most spectacular 2 minutes and 40 seconds of my life, and you want me to waste it looking through a camera?"

my camera stayed in my pocket. The world looks much better live. I spent those minutes like I did the rest of that day: Flyfishing

Mountain Maven said...

Go back to any generation, and you'll see a dominant look.

jwl said...

Narcissus - is a figure from Greek mythology who was so impossibly handsome that he fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water. Even the lovely nymph Echo could not manage to tempt him from his self-absorption.

Unknown said...

Ah, no, but, then, I'm old, or at least too old for this sort of thing.

-sw

Achilles said...

Everything old is new again.

Unexpectedly.

buwaya said...

"it amazes me how many people think that if something important is happening, they have to shield their eyes with a camera's viewfinder. "

They don't use viewfinders anymore, but those phone-size screens.
They would make better pictures faster with viewfinder-equipped cameras.
Even if it is just an EVF.

As for taking a camera, I've had one on me, somewhere, from the age of 6.
Got that from my dad.
There were nuts like us from the days of film.

D said...

(...continued from some previous sci-fi movie script...)
Scientist Meg: Damnit! We have to try!
Scientist Jack: No. The risks are too great.
M: But we assessed the polarities! Reviewed the shutter speed on the posit-clickinator. It should work! It will work!
J: No Meg! I already lost my sister. I'm not going to lose you too.
M: We're already on borrowed time. The robot photolords will find us, and snuff out our souls in seconds. They know we're close. But if we could somehow switch the negativity of an iphone selfie into a positive soul giving-force, we can get our human souls BACK!
J:
M: Jack! Please! Take an instagram ... with me....
J: No! Dont do it! The lighting! Your eyelashes arent on thick enough.
M: I dont need eyelashes. I believe in my science.
J: My god. What have you done? You're a ... a..... Kardishi-ghoul!!!
M: aaargsgash mmmrfmrfm arg-aah
J: No! The horror!

buwaya said...

D -
Quick! Sell that script to whoever is running "Dr. Who"
Its way better than their current writers can do.
Save them, please!

D said...

The running joke is I did a previous one months (years?) back about the plucky woman scientist pushing the dour male scientist to action. They write themselves in literally seconds. Always give the male lead a dead or dying sister. Always have the woman lead show great confidence in the Science. Always have a word end in -nator.

I am Six Words or Less said...

Polaroids made your soul look orange.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Return to living in the natural world.

I have a vague hope that the new generation will acquire an aversion to photography.


I also hope that the current obsession with living online and in social media through smartphones constantly in front of faces has or will soon reach its high water mark, and as my kids enter adulthood it will become the cool and countercultural thing to get off the internet and start participating in real actual life. You know, how it's all cool to eat organic and local and all that crap ~ it'll become cool to sit and have an actual conversation with a person sitting at a table with you, or it'll become cool to get friendly with a person and then ask him or her out on a date for a shared experience instead of scrolling through Tinder.

Daniel Jackson said...

"I have a vague hope that the new generation will acquire an aversion to photography."

Me, too. Business sucks since the outbreak of Selfie Madness.

Everyone wants to get into the Act.

Lori Watts said...

It's just stage make up. All this "lost their souls" stuff is a bit over-dramatic, don't you think, for a bit of pigment & wax?

MayBee said...

I think living online is the big problem. Living for the online presence. My son who worked in a high school called it "Social Media Autism". Kids who just can't relate to the human experience unless they can post it.

JAORE said...

Note to our youngest son (the single one):

Take them to a water park, or somewhere else where you can scrub 'em down, before you decide she's beautiful.