Each week our no-holds-barred contributor Grace Gold picks apart a hot beauty topic. It’s our version of an op-ed—with lipstick, laser treatments and eyeliner.
We all know what a difference a couple coats of mascara or a slick of lip gloss can make, but the above photo really drives the point home.
The shot, which juxtaposes half a bare and half a made-up face, was posted by "Munner83" on Reddit.com several months ago. It has since gone viral, and netizens continue to share the picture digitally.
The image is a product of ulzzang. Ulzzang, which translates to "best face" in Korean, describes an online fad in which Asian women are posting before-and-after photos that show a dramatic and often doll-like transformation through cosmetics. In addition to makeup, some women use contact lenses to enlarge their pupils and glue to create creases on their eyelids.
Reactions to the ulzzang trend run the gamut. Some find the transformations artistically creative and beautiful, while others are turned off by what they see as a plastic, inhuman and unattainable glossiness. There is also concern that these types of photos show Eastern women perpetuating Western beauty standards rather than embracing their own culturally distinct features.
While I can understand the concern for celebrating ethnic identity, I've always taken issue with the assertion that women look fake when they wear makeup. To me, makeup allows women to be creative in expressing and exploring aspects of their personalities, and why not take joy in being able to accentuate your features with some shadow and blush?
Yet in doing so, it's important to remind ourselves that the results aren't necessarily "better." The right side of the face in the photo shows a woman with great bone structure, glowing skin and kind eyes. She's lovely without the makeup, and is probably smiling because it only took her five minutes to get ready.
With that said, let's talk about that left side. Can you say Sophia Loren? Check out the lift of the arched brow, the sweep of the smoky cat eye, the radiant warmth of her blush and those divinely glossed lips. It's a look that could turn heads on the red carpet.
Some days, we want to be that get-up-and-go girl with fresh skin and an easygoing mien. On other days, we want to be that all-out glamazon, stepping into a room with the grandeur of a silver-screen star.
The two sides of this face seem to symbolize that duality of women. We are always goddesses, beautiful by nature or by artifice. So why limit yourself to just one face?
What do you think of Munner83's photo?