Look Pretty! Feel Beautiful!

From Mommie Dearest
Photographers Sofia Sanchez & Mauro Mongiello
Stylist Samuel Francois, Model Siri Tollerød
For Numéro 97

When I was small, maybe eight or nine, my mother bought me my first makeup kit. A cheap drugstore affair, it would serve the double purpose of keeping me out of her “good” makeup while teaching me how to use the stuff before I took it out into the world. In the last few months, celebrity mom Katie Holmes has been taken to task for allowing her daughter (age four) to walk around in ballroom dancing shoes – essentially child-size high heels. In my mind, giving little girls (or boys) the tokens of adulthood is mostly harmless; an amusing gesture, a little parental indulgence.

Right?

Created in 2001 by a Parisian digital arts collective called Pleix, the video below shows a series of four imagined “Beauty Kits for Little Girls” containing DIY beauty treatments. But rather than the customary cheap-makeup-and-nail-polish combos, these kits promise breast implants, liposuction, rhinoplasty, and cosmetic dental surgery.

Part kitschy vintage ad, part modern infomercial, the piece takes you through step-by-step guides, juxtaposing playful music, simple images and rudimentary drawings with creepy flashes of bloody scalpels and bone fragments. It’s both amusing and disturbing – an apt commentary on an increasing appetite for and obsession with (arbitrary) aesthetic perfection that, at this point, seems to claim its acolytes almost in infancy.

This work is already nine years old (just a little older than its implied target market), but I think it might actually be getting more relevant over time.

- g.

3 thoughts on “Look Pretty! Feel Beautiful!

  1. That video is absolutely terrifying. I had to look away from certain parts. The sick thing is: there are probably so many little girls who wish they had those beauty kits. Creepy.

  2. I find that some of these procedures are only ever looked at for the starting product and then the end product, with no regard for what is actually gone through in order to achieve the end results.

    Apart from the provocative commentary on children and beauty, I find it interesting how the off-putting, creepy minor details of the video like scapels and blood are true to the real-life procedures..
    Yes, breast implantation is a bloody process.

  3. The video is definitely creepy. I agree that if this was relevant 9 years ago, it is even more so today. I am always a bit shocked when I hear adults in my life talking about things like botox… but it’s possible there’s an entire generation of people who won’t even bat an eyelash at the idea, or at the idea of a lot of even more extreme procedures. It’s a very uncomfortable thought.

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