Home Audio Transcription Painted: Podcast Transcript | WUNC

Painted: Podcast Transcript | WUNC

24
0


Anita Rao
I have a podcast recommendation for you. It is called Sidedoor and it is hosted by Lizzie Peabody. It is an exploration of more than 154 million treasures inside the Smithsonian’s vaults, and the stories that each of them hides. You’re going to hear about everything from blood sucking worms that paved the way for modern medicine; how robots could learn to tell the stories of our ancestors and maybe even how to get away with murder in the arctic. You can listen to Sidedoor wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for Sidedoor. It’s all one word or find it online at si.edu/SideDoor.

I have never been much of a makeup person, but there are periods of my life in which I’ve certainly dabbled. Middle school — when thick, black eyeliner, mascara and gold eyeshadow felt like an important way to symbolize adolescent belonging. High School show choir — yeah, I said it. When the over the top right blue eyeshadow was the name of the game, but for most of the rest of my life, I reserved makeup for special occasions.

Order Transcription Services

Until about five years ago, when I first started doing interviews on public radio — donning a bold lip on the days I was slotted to be behind the mic became a symbolic way of showing myself and others that no matter how much imposter syndrome I felt — I got this. Red lipstick has since become an essential ingredient in my hosting routine. Little did I know that the bold lip has a long history and deeper meaning to so many others.

This is Embodied, our show about sex, relationships and health. I’m Anita Rao.

Next time you walk through a cosmetics aisle think about the words of writer Rae Nudson. “To talk about makeup is to talk about power. Who has it, who wants it and who is trying to keep it.”

Rae is the author of the book “All Made Up: The Power and Pitfalls of Beauty Culture, from Cleopatra to Kim Kardashian.” Her work documenting makeup across cultures and throughout history shows us that the act of painting our faces is far from trivial.

Rae Nudson
People wear makeup to try to become more beautiful to try to emphasize certain features or trends that their society has deemed beautiful at that time. People wear makeup to show a sense of belonging or that they can take social cues and follow rules. People wear makeup sometimes for medicinal reasons to put a barrier between their skin and the sun or their skin and pollution.

Anita Rao
While the products and technology have shifted — Rae says the reasons people wear makeup have consistent themes over time.

Rae Nudson
Makeup is kind of showing often that you can follow a sense of rules or a sense of propriety, and the people who set those rules tend to be people in power. So for example, throughout history, Queens or Kings have set fashion trends. Often Queen Elizabeth set fashion trends with white makeup, with her red hair, with her plucked hairline, and people who wanted to be close to her, or who wanted to be seen as wealthy or well connected, followed her lead and those makeup trends.

Anita Rao
The makeup you wear can also be an outward representation of your values. A story well told by my own personal favorite, the bold red lip.

Rae Nudson
Red lipstick in the US has a long history also in other cultures. But in the United States, there’s been kind of a rumor or a story that suffragettes used red lipstick, that white suffragettes wore red lipstick in the early 1900s, while they were trying to get the vote for women. And it turns out that that’s not really true, that women in the early 1900s, white women in particular, who were fighting for the vote, were kind of trying to portray an image of respectability. They were trying to say: Hey, we’re still feminine. We’re still respectable women who know our place, even if you guys give us the right to vote. So they were playing up respectability politics and this image of your respectable, proper woman, and, at that time, that did not include visible lipstick.

Anita Rao
The suffragettes may have not opted for red lipstick, but Rosie the Riveter, and her real life counterparts, thought differently.

News Anchor (Sound Clip)
Tens of 1000s of women are already at work in aircraft. More are being added as fast as they apply. This solves the breadwinning problem for many families whose men are at war. The government’s policy…

Rae Nudson
In the 1940s and during World War Two, red lipstick became a way that women could emphasize their femininity, especially as women were going into workplaces — in places that were previously male-dominated. Lipstick became a safe way they could still make themselves up and emphasize femininity because in factories you couldn’t wear your hair long. You couldn’t wear frilly, long dresses because it wasn’t safe. And with figures like Rosie the Riveter, and a government who was kind of emphasizing that women should remain feminine and stay beautiful to support men in the military, red lipstick became seen as patriotic and became a way for women to show that they were doing their part in beautifying and then supporting the country.

Anita Rao
Of course, this wasn’t true for all women. For women of color in the US, at that time, wearing red lipstick wasn’t seen as patriotic. In the eyes of mainstream society, bold makeup choices on a Black woman branded her over-sexualized, improper or too independent. Those stereotypes linger today, and women of color are still pushing back.

Rae Nudson
In a lot of Latina cultures, red lipstick can be seen as a proper thing to do because it shows visible effort of putting effort into your appearance. But in professional environments, women of color like Sonia Sotomayor and AOC are judged differently. And that red lipstick can be seen as unprofessional, or as over-sexualized, often for Latinx woman, right — that they’re seen as over-sexualized if they wear this red lipstick and hoop earrings — and so these women were judged differently, and we’re often told to tone it down. And to say: Don’t wear red lipstick. Don’t wear red nail polish in these professional environments because you won’t be taken as seriously.

Anita Rao
The red lipstick double standard is just one of many examples throughout makeup history of a consistent truth. The same cosmetic on two different people is read very differently. In the early 1960s, Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra turned blue eyeshadow into an iconic look for women. And then late 1960s, New York, gay men adopted it with a new meaning.

Rae Nudson
So around that time in New York, around Stonewall, a lot of gay men used blue eyeshadow as a way to kind of signal that they were gay, and they were part of this community, and to find other people that they could connect with. And there were cafes in New York, in the village, where people could go and gather. Blue makeup became kind of a signal to say: Hey, I’m here. I’m part of this community, are you? It was risky for people to do that because as soon as you left environments where it was safe and accepted, then you were maybe out on the street, where it wasn’t seen as something that you were allowed to wear in certain spaces.

Anita Rao
“To embrace makeup is to embrace certain contradictions.” Another killer line from Rae’s book, and it’s true. The paradox I always come back to when talking about beauty trends is — am I doing this for me, or because I’ve internalized a narrative about beauty that I’m subconsciously ascribing to? Rae says it’s probably both.

Rae Nudson
I think that the kind of pattern and trends that people follow are heavily influenced by society at the time — however, people do wear makeup for their own personal reasons. Even if they’re following trends set by other people, I think that now with social media and with people playing around with makeup a lot at their home and looks that they don’t necessarily have to go out into the world wearing, people are getting a lot more creative and kind of breaking society’s rules more often, maybe, in a really interesting and fun way.

Anita Rao
When I wear makeup, I am doing it to express my confidence. No matter how wavering it can sometimes be. It’s a similar experience for others.

Abbie Amabisca
A lot of people feel like makeup is there to mask who you are and to impress other people, whether it’s a romantic partner or other women. But for me, that isn’t true. And I feel actually for a lot of people, that’s really not true. It’s kind of this really creative force and like playground for yourself where you finally get to celebrate yourself. You get to just really use it sort of as a talisman of how you want to feel, and I feel like there’s so many different versions of who we are. Makeup really allows ourselves to dip into each one, and to indulge each one and validate each one.

Anita Rao
That’s Abbie Amabisca, a listener in Phoenix. She has a collection of lipsticks more than 50 colors deep.

Abbie Amabisca
My classic look is a bold, orangey, red, matte lipstick; eyeliner that’s jet black and just so sharp it could shrink your enemies and a nice fresh, coral, peachy blush and really bold brows. I’m Latina, so you got to represent the bold brows.

Anita Rao
Like Abbie says, makeup can be a way to reveal your inner self to the world. That’s true too for cosmetologist Dawn Mitchell.

Dawn Mitchell
Once I applied my mascara, it was like I was raising my lashes to Jesus and I was getting taller instantly.

Anita Rao
Dawn’s the founder of her own beauty and skincare product line, Pretty Till Dawn, and a diversity and inclusion strategist responsible for helping makeup companies create more inclusive products. That latter position is something that didn’t exist when Dawn was growing up in the 70s. As a young makeup enthusiast, she was all on her own finding cosmetics to match her skin tone.

Dawn Mitchell
The tans and the darks that were out there didn’t have the proper undertones, so I would need to mix various shades to add some yellow and to add in all of that I need. And then if I got darker in the summer, my makeup no longer matched. And so now I need to mix another batch of color, so it’s all about color lessons. And I began to just look at it as an art sheet, using the Crayola crayons, and how do I mix those colors and what’s going to brighten and empower me without overshadowing who I am?

Anita Rao
So you were doing your own crafting to find a color that matched your skin. When did you start to see makeup lines expanding their color palettes and creating options that would work for you without you having to do it for yourself?

Dawn Mitchell
I think the first one came out in the 80s, and it was IMAN, and I was so ecstatic. I was like: Oh my god, someone’s actually looked beyond the range of tan. So IMAN and a few other brands made some darker shades, but what really blew up the makeup industry is when Fenty Beauty came out. It’s like she struck a match and threw it into the beauty world and said: Now, start over and do it this way.

Anita Rao
For those of you just learning about makeup history, the launch of Fenty Beauty was a huge turning point in the cosmetic industry. And that “she” that Dawn mentions, that’s Rihanna. Rihanna launched Fenty Beauty in 2017. From the start, her line featured 40 different shades of foundation. Other major cosmetic lines at the time had as few as seven. Here’s Rae again.

Rae Nudson
Yeah, it was huge. I mean, like Dawn said, it had a huge ripple effect throughout the industry. So Rihanna’s shades — her 40 shades, including very, very light shades, and very, very dark shades — and it shook people up and it kind of created a way for companies to follow in her footsteps. And this happened with a variety of companies and a variety of different price points. So that’s important because women who needed to find makeup that match their skin tone didn’t have to necessarily spend money on designer brands or spend time going to those stores to finding those shades. You could all of a sudden find 40 shades and drugstore brands.

Anita Rao
In her work as a strategist, Dawn helps companies understand that they can’t just stop at this bare minimum of expanding how many shades they carry. Diversity and inclusion for a makeup company also means creating products for various skin conditions, level of pigmentation and sensitive skin.

Dawn Mitchell
I just went through breast cancer, I had a double mastectomy, which is a removal of both breasts. So it taught me how to treat sensitive areas, and your face is the first thing you lead with no matter where you go and what you’re doing. I had to figure out an external way to try to feel good or look good — to feel better, put it that way. So sometimes you don’t always feel as horrible when you’re going through chemo, but because your eyes are sunken in, and because your lips are so depleted, that you need to add products on now that are doing extra.

Anita Rao
Gender inclusivity in makeup products and marketing also has room for growth. Makeup is still very feminized, despite people of all genders accessing and using products over time.

Rae Nudson
Men have historically, off and on, used makeup and have been a part of sending makeup trends. And I know historically, in the UK, for instance, aristocratic men, wealthy men would wear powder and rouge, and just like the woman and that would signal their status. And so these trends for men have kind of gone in and out of fashion, the same way that trends for women go in and out of fashion. Often that makeup is kind of more bare face makeup, foundation, eyebrow pencils, kind of more grooming — it’s kind of seen as a way to be well groomed, and clean shaven and welcomed. So the colored, highly visible makeup is still kind of often seen as feminine.

Anita Rao
But that may be changing. With millions of YouTube and TikTok makeup tutorials, it’s easier than ever to find folks breaking the rules of who can wear makeup, how and when.

Rae Nudson
I think that YouTube and social media has been a real way for people to participate in the beauty industry and in makeup, and so you can create these beauty looks and kind of find a different community and people that wear makeup differently — just on the internet. You don’t have to leave your house; you don’t have to maybe face the same risks of going outside in a full face of makeup. So I think that that has really democratized the beauty industry in a way, but I think that power is still kind of held at the top.

Anita Rao
So what will it take to shift those power structures and make the products more reflective of the range of folks who want to wear them? Dawn has a few ideas.

Dawn Mitchell
I’d love to see makeup tools that are for people that have any hand-capable problems, with holding just a tool brush. With the breast cancer, I had a problem grasping the brushes in my hands. So I’d love to see a change in some makeup tools. I’d love to see more bright colors across different communities, and I’d like to see less shaming for men that decide that they would like to contour their face a little bit — and to come up with brands and packaging that is gender friendly. It’s starting, but again, just like we saw the big trend in 2020, when there were a lot more African Americans and people of color being added to the fashion magazines, and a year later it’s now 2022, and that’s already declined by like 11%, so we got to get this conversation moving and reved up — and honestly it’s just about being more inclusive for everybody.

Anita Rao
Makeup enhances with products like foundation, lipstick and eyeliner. You can emphasize the facial features you already have, but those same products can also be used to create an illusion, which is why cosmetics have long been an essential component of performance art, and in particular — drag. Just ask Natasha Noir Nightly, a drag queen activist and the 2018 winner of the Myth Blue Ridge Pride Pageant in western North Carolina. I’ll let her describe herself.

Natasha Noir Nightly
So Natasha is a six foot-something, glitter-bearded, drag monster. I think that’s probably the best way to put it. I’ve kind of honed her to be a little bit more of the kind of aggressively, maternal side of myself. So she is my loud, my aggressively-caring….she is the most powerful elements of all of the feminine, maternal figures that I’ve had in my life.

Anita Rao
Natasha’s makeup skills have come a long way since she started doing drag about seven years ago. It took her a bit of time to master the look, and she learned a lot in the process.

Natasha Noir Nightly
When I started doing drag, I had no idea how to apply makeup in general. I had done theatre for a little bit, and the brief moment of how we put theatre makeup on is not exactly the most informative when you’re 16 and don’t really care about what the adults are saying. And as I progressed in my drag career, I learned more about my facial structure and how to either change, emphasize or whatever. So I have what I affectionately call: sneak face, which means I have a very narrow front to my face and a lot of profile. And so I’ve learned that to create a more dynamic, more front-facing illusion, I need to contour my face in a way that kind of brings out the sides of my face and emphasizes more of like a square, rounded shape as opposed to a long and narrow one.

Anita Rao
Natasha doesn’t shave or hide her beard as a queen, so figuring out how to work around facial hair has become part of her regular makeup process.

Natasha Noir Nightly
I don’t have to contour my chin or my jawline because I have a black base. I have a black chin strap. It’s like going all the way around, where a lot of non-bearded drag queens specifically would either highlight or contour to make them have a bigger jawline. And so I use a very, very full coverage foundation, and build that up, so that you know — I have a new skin, essentially. I then have to go in and re-color my beard, and I’ve done that to match my wigs — which, I never wear like a human-color wig. I’m always somewhere in the jewel tones or purples, and so I’ve colored my beard purple, lavender, what have you — or just emphasized with black, and so I’ve had to go in and re-shape my facial hair to kind of add into that illusion.

Anita Rao
When Natasha stepped out of drag, her relationship to makeup changes, but she’s still in the process of figuring out exactly how.

Natasha Noir Nightly
I recently came out as non-binary during the pandemic, essentially, and have been exploring what that meant. And Natasha has allowed me to kind of experiment more because now I have all these tools. And now that I’m a drag performer, I have a makeup kit full of 1000 different combinations of colors, and foundation and understanding of face shapes and all these things. And so I actually had to, instead of learning how to tone up my makeup for drag, I actually had to learn how to tone down my makeup for walking around when the day starts out.

So it was learning how to — okay, you’re not drawing on eyebrows in the middle of your forehead, we’re gonna use your real eyebrows — we’re gonna emphasize your actual eye shape, we’re not creating a new one that’s like the size of a computer mouse — we’re going to be doing these things that emphasize your actual face shape and not making a new one.

Anita Rao
Even when using her real eyebrows, Natasha is drawn to makeup with more color and pizzazz than the nude look that some folks opt for. But as I talked about with Rae before, context is everything, and Natasha is very aware of how makeup will affect how people perceive her in certain spaces.

Natasha Noir Nightly
If I’m going to put makeup on, I’m not going to be doing the base rainbow like I spent, you know, 27 years playing in beige and now I want purple. Now I want greens, now I want blues, now I want golds — and so I’m also lucky enough to be surrounded by chosen family that are very, very bold in their everyday choices. But I’ve also seen the trials and tribulations and struggles that they’ve had, even in Asheville, which is where I live. My drag sister is in full glam almost any time she goes out, and she’s been shot at on the side of the road. So it’s definitely, every time we walk out — it’s a mitigated risk. But anytime that you walk out, as a person who’s not fitting into the general masses, it can be unsafe.

Anita Rao
Makeup is often not treated very seriously. If you’ve been listening these past 20 minutes or so, you’ll understand what Natasha means when she says makeup and drag are her form of activism.

Natasha Noir Nightly
I am a bearded drag queen who doesn’t pad and doesn’t shave, so like I have my full test hair out. I don’t wear a breastplate, I’m very visibly not doing a “female impersonation” drag. And so that is a choice by me because I’ve seen, like Dawn was talking about going through a double mastectomy, my mother also went through one. And so I know that not all people who identify as women have breasts and so why am I going to be pretending? Like that is the definition of what a woman is. We have these labels of woman and man as these nebulous gender terms, but like — what does that really mean? And I, as an artist, get to deconstruct that.

Anita Rao
Where would you like to see the nexus of power in the makeup industry shift and whose voices do you want to see included?

Natasha Noir Nightly
I want to see more trans women. I want to see more trans men represented and I want more brands owned by people of color. Those are the brands that are actually doing the work. They’re the ones who are pushing for color range. They’re the ones who are pushing for higher pigment in their eyeshadows so that they show up on a wider variety of skin tones. Because we’re tired of these, you know, picture-esque, perfect porcelain, you know, paper-white skin models using these products that you put it on your skin even if you have like a mild tan and all of a sudden it’s green, not blue. It’s 2022, get with it.

Anita Rao
Embodied is a production of North Carolina Public Radio WUNC, a listener supported station. If you want to lend your support to this podcast and WUNC’s other shows on demand, consider contribution at wunc.org now. Incredible storytelling like you hear on Embodied is only possible because of listeners like you.

This episode was produced by Audrey Smith and Kaia Findlay. Jenni Lawson is our sound engineer and Quilla wrote our theme music.

The show is supported by Weaver Street Market, a worker- and consumer-owned cooperative selling organic and local food at four triangle locations in North Carolina. Now featuring online shopping with next day pickup, weaverstreetmarket.CoOp.

If you enjoyed this show or anything else you’ve heard on Embodied, share about us on social media and tag us. It helps new folks find our show and means so much. Until next time, I’m Anita Rao — taking on the taboo with you.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai





Source link

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here