We are not talking about your run-of-the-mill, lingerie-with-ears-on-it, “sexy Halloween” get-ups. This stuff is creepy. Imaginative. Frequently grotesque. And a lot of time and skill goes into it.
“I love doing the creepier looks simply because they are creative and unexpected,” said Shannon Harris, the 23-year-old proprietor of one of YouTube’s top beauty channels. “I feel that over the past few years, so many people were resorting to the ‘pretty’ costumes. These scary/creepy ones are a great way to break out of the norm … they are challenging as well.”
Harris’s most popular videos, historically, have been pretty conventional: an overview of her morning routine, a tutorial on doing acrylic nails at home. For Halloween, however, Harris goes dark: Think zombies with gaping wounds on their faces. Or stapled, cheek-to-forehead scars.
There’s more where those came from in the beauty blogosphere, too: Bloggers who usually post smokey eyes and weight loss tips suddenly go in for gore, scars and fangs. On Instagram, accounts like @HalloweenMakeupIdeas try to round them all up; half a million photos have been posted on the #halloweenmakeup hashtag to date.
The cool thing about these tutorials — besides the obvious fact that they look really cool — is the degree to which they showcase these bloggers breaking out of their prescribed social roles.
Communications scholars like Temple University’s Brooke Erin Duffy have long documented the problematic gender and labor implications of beauty blogging: among other things, these women often put enormous amounts of time and effort into their blogs — promoting specific products and companies — without getting paid. Many also promote a specific, narrow vision of femininity; they’ve been criticized for parroting stereotypes of women on a medium where that could take a different approach. (“There’s nothing wrong with beauty and fashion,” the YouTuber Rosianna Halse Rojas told The Post recently. “But aren’t we just replicating on YouTube what the media already says about women?”)
The Halloween make-up tutorials, on the other hand, don’t fit neatly into any of our stereotypes about how women should look or behave. In fact, they feel kind of transgressive. We’ll leave it to more academic minds to parse what, exactly, it Might All Mean. But it’s definitely pretty neat to see women taking products advertised to up their sex appeal, and turning them toward … zombies.
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