Thursday, November 21, 2013

Of beauty, make-up and Photoshop

I'm going to be honest here, I don't think of myself as beautiful or sexy.
I'm not ugly either, I'm normal... nothing too fancy, not too disgusting, just... normal.
A good fashion sense, I guess.

I clean up nicely, they say. I dress pretty and the way I do my make-up is normal.
I like to have my hair put together when possible. Otherwise you'll see me on a not-so-pretty-sumo-wrestler-like pony tail but that's it. I'm a very normal, standard person.

Or so I thought.

This last weekend, as a celebration to the first tornado of the season, two of my friends and I decided to play dress-up and help one of them practice as she wants to become a make-up artist and hairdresser. We stayed home and... well...

Smokey sultry eyes, bright red lips, little black dress, beach wavy hair and I was done.
I looked different.
Just for fun, I took a selfie and whatsapped it to an ex-dude and he replied: "I'm not sure about it... I'll have to see it in person to comment"... whoa.

Of course, we HAD to take real pictures, OF COURSE! we were not going through all that and not have evidence of the beauty crime, right?
We turned the living room into a professional photographer studio with upside down lamps looking for the perfect "Facebook profile picture".

I didn't think it was going to be a big difference, it was just about the same right??

The result?

Twelve hours after I posted my picture on Facebook, 135 of my friends liked it and 38 commented on it:
"You look like a beauty pageant contestant!"
"Hey sexy, where have you been?"
"How YOU doin'?"
"You look super hot mamacita"
"Mafe, you look stunning"
"Damn girl! I'd date ya!" - from a girl.
A friend left a voice mail: "Since when do you look like Kim Kardashian????"... yes, apparently my friends drunk-dial my number.

Do you know what is like having 135 of the people you know clicking on LIKE?
Well, I never had anything like that happening to me so it felt AWESOME!!!!!

But here's the thing: that picture was completely staged.
There was nothing "casual" about that look: the make-up, the hair, the dress... yes, it was me under all that but that wasn't the real me.
Two hours after the picture was taken I was back in bed, with my hair and face washed and the model from the picture was gone down the drain, literally.

"Congratulations on your new look"... look? whatchu-talking about??
"I love your transformation"... what transformation?
"I barely recognized you! you look so pretty"... ohhhhh... kay... ummmm... thanks?

To make things funnier, I landed my first "modeling gig".
Yes, now I'm a model. No, I can't believe it either.

And no, I'm not a Victoria's Secret Angel, God forbid!
A friend of mine is part of a health research team (can't tell much because I just signed a confidentiality agreement) and they needed a Latina for his posters and, guess what? he called me.

At first, I thought it was going to be something simple, just go to his house and take some funny pictures.
Then shit got real yo': We had a meeting to discuss the "storyline", the "concept"... the actual contract... and I started to chickened out.

Then they sent me the address to the stud---- wait... STUDIO?!?! Yes, studio.

I had to stand THERE, in the middle of those lights, with a dude taking pictures of me while someone else kept saying: look sad, now look disappointed, now look happy, now look hopeful... now look at me, now back to you, now back to me, you are now petrified because you have 10 pairs of eyes watching your every move and you cannot smile when your supposed to frown... I'm on a horse.

I asked my friend if the camera was going to reflect all the imperfections on my face, I begged for  make-up!! to which he said:
"No worries Mafe, you'll be fine. You actually have to look older... I'll Photoshop a couple of years into your face, you are naturally cute and I need you to look old".

So, what is the definition of beauty?

Where is beauty actually? is it at the bottom of my make up bag or in the screen of a graphic designer?

I sent the first selfie that I've sent my ex to my dad and he didn't like it (what the duce?!?!): It's too much Nana. You don't look like yourself.
Then my dad saw the FB picture: same day, same face, same dress, same hair, BUT different lighting and he commented: That's much better, you see? you don't have to overdo things to look beautiful.

Is beauty in the eye of the beholder or in the hands of a lighting assistant?

I don't know, I just felt existential on my first week out in the world again.

BONUS TRACK: if you made it as far as this line and you didn't get the "I'm on a horse" thing:

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