"Belladonna explores the history of traditions used by women to achieve the 'beauty perfection' this project is a result of researching the toxic & fatal ingredients found in cosmetics"
I have always been completely fascinated by the idea of ‘beauty’ and what actually makes someone ‘beautiful?’ Who gets to define ‘beauty?’
And why? From a young age I was completely hooked on a TV show called Next Top Model. Fascinated by the way that ordinary young girls
were made-over to be catwalk ready. With their long limbs and photogenic faces, I was intrigued by the techniques used to mold them by
industry experts. At school my friends and I were also completely obsessed with the perfect bodies of the Victoria Secret models - Googling
their body measurement - and comparing them to our own teenage bodies…
But, just as fashion has seasons and trends, so too, it seems, do our bodies. From the Herion Chic look of the nineties (Kate Moss’s boyish hips
and jutting shoulder blades) to the current ‘celebration’ of curves (i.e. Kim Kardashian’s Jessica Rabbit like, incredibly exaggerated shape).
We now see more curvy Instagram models. Whilst fashion brands such as ASOS are moving forward by using non-photoshoped images of
women with stretch marks & cellulite, in their ad campaigns, in music (rap) lyrics state that ‘thick girls’ are desirable (‘thick’ referring to
rounded curves and not, a lack of academic prowess. I hasten to add). The question is, has the western world really moved forward and
settled on a more realistic beauty ideal? Or, with the accessibility of affordable procedures such as; botox, lip fillers, and other high street
quick fixes - is the idea of beauty perfection - now the beast?
I love cosmetics and I adore luxury packaging.
I am excited when I receive a new palette of eye shadows to play with. I tune into YouTube for advice on the application of makeup and
product recommendations, as do most of my friends these days.
As I entered my research for this, my final year, project, I began to really listen to what the YouTube ‘beauty gurus’ were actually saying.
I realised, that the language used by the influencers were encouraging me to ‘correct’ my beauty ‘imperfections’.
I could see how this ‘soft-sell’ message could help to damage my (and other young women’s), self-esteem. Cosmetics were being pushed as
THE ‘solution’ to my less than perfect looks. Techniques to make my lips look fuller, my eyes bigger and my nose smaller got me thinking, is
this attitude to how we should look or something new...?
I directed my research towards understanding the beauty traditions women have undertaken throughout history.
What were the pressures - before the beauty bloggers and high street procedures?
What I discovered was a world of poisons and toxic ingredients. From the use of lead in face powders 600 years ago, to the more recent but
equally horrifying use of RADIUM in cosmetics in the early 19th Century in Britain and France.
I decided to combine my passion for packaging design and my interest in the history of make-up and beauty traditions and create a brand.
Modern in design but using the toxic ingredients used throughout history
polaroids of model bibi hoad, art directed, photographed, styled and edited by rhianna miller