From a slice of lime instead of blusher to a crown crafted from kale, when it comes to beauty @suprisinghealthbenefits likes to get fruity
Whereas male drag artists are breaking into the mainstream, with Ru Paul’s Drag Race providing an internationally viewed platform for them to shine, it’s femmes and females of the Instagram beauty community that are quietly pushing make-up use to its most radical possibilities. In her column, Femme Mystique, Dazed Beauty Contributing Editor and founder of Polyester zine Ione Gamble, shines a spotlight on the femmes creating club looks from the comfort of their bedroom as they turn to make-up to express their true identity. Through their desire to twist, subvert, or exemplify traditionally ‘feminine’ beauty traits, previously used to oppress them, as a means of empowerment, these are the people moving the craft away from mere performance and into changing how we view ourselves and the world around us.
“I believe the purpose of make-up is to alter the visual presentation of the face. That's exactly what I use make-up for; only to a more exaggerated degree and without the purpose of vanity,” says B, more commonly known as their Instagram handle @suprisinghealthbenefits. The polar opposite of in-app editing and perfect highlighter strobing, B’s approach to beauty is more comparable to that of a toddler than an online make-up guru. And I mean that as a compliment. Bringing the idea of DIY beauty back to its subversive origins, the artist’s approach to painting their face is one of pure expressionism — and no tool is off the table when B decides to create a look.
Inspired by their own move to veganism, B decided to start pulling the fruit and vegetables off their plate and plaster them all over their face, posting pictures of the result on Insta. “I've been vegan on and off for seven years now, so I feel like that undeniably has affected my perspective and what materials I am drawn to,” B explains. Creating visceral works of art through the use of their own face as a canvas for all manner of found objects, B subtly taps into issues surrounding consumption, disposability, and identity. Whether using a lime slice instead of blush or sculpting metre high weaves adorned with mistletoe and cherries — the 25-year-old, LA-based artist blurs the line between fine art, beauty, and Instagram culture.
With the beauty industry at large so potently geared towards mass consumption in the name of self-acceptance, each image B uploads is a rallying cry against the homogeneity of perfectly Facetuned make-up tutorials. Red paint is pictured squished between tight cling film, a chilli, and B’s face. A crown of Kale is used to craft a choker. It’s a spontaneous, honest mess — in the best way possible — and one that’s so often lacking in the online sphere. B explains “I never know exactly what will be the end product — I let the work take me where it will. The ideas come to me at any time as a result of my thoughts conglomerating at random or encountering something external.”
For B, selfies are a way to physically manifest the inside of their own head. “I actually really just fell into self-portraiture as a means of executing my creative vision. There are things I want to see exist outside of my head — so I create them.” That said, while the artist may be creating the world they hope to see outside their head, B’s creations never make it outside their house. “It's really just photographic for me. I enjoy building up a moment which is clearly staged. I don't have a desire to intertwine this work within the setting of casual life.”
Working across mediums of painting, make-up, self-portraiture and clothing, the artist’s work harks back to childhood play — a time in which imagination comes first. Their work is steeped in nostalgia, filtered through pop art sentiment and painted in the brightest colours imaginable. B explains, “colour excites the inspired mind — I believe that is why kids love colour — because their minds are still inspired.” From exaggerated clothing silhouettes adorned with applique and hand painted shapes, to tin cans plastered with B dressed as a tomato, they refuse to be restricted by one specific medium. Of this choice to work across all spectrums of the artistic world, B says, “my work is an exploration. I find inspiration in many things — I feel it is very important to allow oneself to be inspired.”
More recently, B’s exploration has found them moving away from the natural world. A recent image sees the artist turn themself into a lurid blue birthday cake — candles burning ominously towards their face and captioned “How Many Wishes Until…” They explain, “recently I have been experimenting with the addition of more "toxic" elements like food colouring. I try to gain new perspectives and greater understanding with each new piece.” With one of their Instagram captions describing their work as exploring “ideas of consumption and becoming consumed”; their work most certainly implores us to all stop and question the world around us — both on screen and off.