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The liberatory power of makeup

Lisa Eldridge’s first book, ‘Face Paint: The Story of Makeup’ is a reminder of human social obligations; of wanting to belong and feel accepted



This book review/feature was first published for The Hans India

"Makeup, as we know it, has only been commercially available in the last 100 years, but applying decoration to the face and body may be one of the oldest global social practices.”
London-based makeup artiste, Lisa Eldridge has added another shade to her palette of achievements with her first book, ‘Face Paint: The Story of Makeup’.

In ‘Face Paint’, the red carpet specialist with over 20 years of experience in the industry reveals the history of makeup, from Egyptian ages through the Victorian age and the golden era of Hollywood, and surveys the science of cosmetics for what lies ahead in it. She narrates a story tracing the origins of makeup to its development over centuries citing anthropological, psychological, evolutionary and sexual significances as she uncovers the answer …

From the heart: Dear Savi Sharma

I wish I could “just be” on Instagram. I want to be liberated from the expectations of ‘who I am perceived to be’ and be able to show the reader in me. And, it’s quite amazing how it didn’t even take a month for me to be swayed into the never-ending quest for recognition




 

It was quite an opportune find for me at the bookstore the other day. It had been months and months I have yearned to go and browse a bookstore. Just idly walk around, not intending to buy anything, save a book’s blurb or words catch my interest. The desire kept building. Heightened by the collective entrapment of the lockdown, one fine day I upped and went. The other reason was, I joined Instagram and I thought, well let’s take this opportunity to make a video about browsing a bookstore.

Filming the video was an embarrassing task at first. I’m not your regular, budding 23-year-old, comfortable with flashing a camera in public. No, I’m a grown-ass woman in her 30’s. This stuff doesn’t come naturally to us. Regardless, I shot a five-minute footage, which I quickly learned was a lot for Instagram audience’s short attention span. Anyway, pretty soon I had forgotten to film, and was back to being a reader browsing books at the store. I looked at every fiction shelf (except romance… damn! I’m so partial to it… even though there are some really good romance books… I should try to find one). Ok, I literally just went off on a tangent.

So, as I was saying, I craned my neck, lifted my feet, stood on a stool, asked the assistance of the salesperson – you name it. I did it all to find a book that spoke to me. And, I’m happy to report that a few books did. If you’re interested in knowing which, there’s a video on Instagram about it. You’re welcome to check it out. 

But let’s talk about this one book – Stories We Never Tell, by Savi Sharma.

What caught my eye were two things – first, it said: ‘A story of hope, light, and recovery’, and second, it was about a woman (not, girl) who wanted to be a social media influencer. I checked the publishing date; 2019. Excellent! I’ve been looking for something based in the recent past, written by women, about adults, based in India, and something that promises a “happy ending” (so to speak).

It seemed to check all the boxes. The only thing left was, will her writing style work for me? Now, thankfully, I’ve grown a little as a reader in that I don’t only read books that are “written well”. I allow myself to read the story along with the writing style. Don’t get me wrong. I’m still someone who gives first preference to the writing, and then to the story. But I’m trying. To be kinder to the writing, and to feel the heart of the story. Why am I doing that, you ask? Well, why do you want to know everything?

How to Instagram?

It hasn’t been a month I’ve been on Instagram (joined in August last week; this was written on September 22), and already I find it taking up a lot of my creative energy. What I would normally use to write for my website, for poems, features, and for other not-to-be-seen-by-others material for myself – all that creative juice flowed into planning the curated Feed, selecting the right music for Stories, interacting with other readers (well; then there are videos to sketch, edit, and upload on IGTV, and now Reels. Dear God! The Reels. I was swept into all of it. Truth be told, I did enjoy it. It’s a good outlet for creative output, but it made me cut back on other (more important) things. 

So, this book – about a woman who is addicted to being an influencer on Instagram – it reminded me of my intention to join the platform. It being, I only want to connect to readers. That’s all. It doesn’t mean I can’t have a curated Feed. But, it sure as hell means that I don’t need to make Reels or whatever other thing Insta is promoting to increase your account’s presence on its platform.

Throughout the book, I found myself questioning my own Feed. I wished I could “just be” on Instagram. I have intentionally not joined anyone from my Facebook and Twitter on that app, because, I don’t want anything to cloud my presence there. I want to be liberated from the expectations of ‘who I am perceived to be’ and be able to show the reader in me. And, it’s quite amazing how it didn’t even take a month for me to be swayed into the never-ending quest for recognition. This is the curse of the creative mind. Our identities tend to be outward. There’s nothing wrong with that, unless you’re unaware of it, and it clouds your intentions.

Anyway, I’m clocking somewhere between an hour to an hour and a half on Instagram daily. I want to reduce it further to forty-five minutes. It’s tougher than I thought to be disciplined on such a juicy, creative platform. And Savi Sharma’s book, ‘Stories We Never Tell’, has reminded me of how I can do it. (Update: As of October 1, I am at 50 minutes daily average).

Don’t get me wrong, it’s going to be an effort. But I’m willing to try. There are other things more important than Instagram that need my attention. To that end, I wrote my intentions about why I joined the app on a piece of paper and pasted it in front of me. So that, it’s always looking into my eyes, and telling me: Woman, take note. Do you really need to browse through the Reels for entertainment? Do you really need to plan your Feed every day? Woman, you’re not on Instagram to become a social media influencer. Be yourself. Curate your Feed, because you’re an Editor; not because everyone does it.

So, thank you, Savi Sharma.

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Image: I own the image. Do not copy.

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