Pin It
Alhadjie Conteh by Piczo

Linking men’s make-up to mental health

TextAmelia Abraham

Make-up artist Athena Paginton collaborates with model and activist Hélène Selam Kleih to raise awareness about men’s mental health

How do you spark a conversation about men’s mental health visually? Too often, we reduce the topic to statistics, or else we see nothing at all; depression, anxiety and psychosis can be lonely, private, stigmatised, hidden, and difficult to put words to, let alone put pictures to. But here, in a beauty shoot with an all-male cast, make-up artist and Dazed Beauty Contributing Beauty Editor Athena Paginton paints the faces of contributors to HIM + HIS, an anthology about men and mental health created by model, activist and Dazed 100 member Hélène Selam Kleih.

“Hélène and I came together with the idea of curating a series of images involving contributors of her book ‘HIM + HIS’,” explains Athena. “Focusing on beauty portraiture with a mix of face painting, we wanted this project to offer a visual representation of masculinity, exploring the depths of what this topic means. The more we see men unapologetically being themselves, the more the stigma of mental health in males will erode.”

According to Athena, the shoot is about men being vulnerable, confident and expressing themselves – all positive articulations of masculinity. And it was borne out of a previous collaboration between her, Hélène and photographer Piczo. In the HIM + HIS book, for which Hélène is currently fundraising for a reprint, Hélène published images from Athena and Piczo’s images shot for the Samaritans from last year. “Like those images, I hope these can create a conversation, not only among those who identify as male but can open minds to those who want to educate themselves or others on the topic of masculinity and mental health,” says Athena.

That said, the images are not meant to be taken too seriously: “The images are silly,” Hélène adds. “They are glittery and trivial and fun. HIM + HIS is trying to show us all that mental health doesn’t have to be a burden and it can be explored outside of the confines of white walls and hushed tones. The images are still thought out and in keeping with the green theme of the book - it is a colour that has always signified health and happiness so I like to see how different people interpret the colour and the face logo [of the book] in each of their respective ways.”

She continues: “I asked each contributor in the shoot to collaborate with Athena on their looks to reflect their personality and the mantras they live by to cope, like Arran and his ‘patience’ portrait. Without explicitly speaking on mental health with the existing (sometimes boring, sometimes overwhelming) buzz words or clinical terms, we can create our own language to express ourselves and help others at the same time. Creativity in any form is the saving grace for all of us, and that’s what this series, and the day we created it meant for me.”


Photographer: Paige Whiting assisting
Make-up: Athena Paginton
Make-up assitant: Paige Whiting

Read Next
The best Buffy the Vampire Slayer hair and make-up looks (and the worst) Beauty Feature
Joe Exotic
Unpacking the mystique and magnetism of Joe Exotic’s mullet Beauty Feature
covid-19 coronavirus mental health anxiety wellness
Is this COVID-19 or just my anxiety? Beauty Feature
Erika Lust Heidi switch porn fat plus size
Heidi Switch is stripping back fatness stigmas in porn, one film at a time Beauty Feature
Kai Isaiah Jamal
Poet and activist Kai-Isaiah Jamal on gender, trans identity, and movement Beauty Feature
mid mid aw12 Miuccia Prada Pat McGrath Guido Palau
Remembering Miu Miu’s psychedelic, gender-defying AW12 show Runway retrospectives
Empire Records shave
A guide for the perfect DIY buzzcut, isolation’s biggest hair trend Beauty Feature
afro hair maintain quarantine
Tips on caring for afro hair in quarantine, from hairstylist Kemi Akinbola Guide
Science says touch is as vital as oxygen – here’s how to survive isolation Beauty Feature
Kylie Jenner
Kylie Jenner has donated $1 million to help fight COVID-19 Beauty news
UK’s first black fitness festival, NoireFitFest, wants exercise inclusivity Beauty Feature
Animal Crossing
Animal Crossing: New Horizons lets players celebrate their birthmarks Beauty news
Acne Dreams 4
I keep having weird anxiety dreams about my skin – what does it mean? Beauty Feature
bleach London diy colour hair isolation
Fringe need a trim? Roots growing out? Bleach’s haircare tips for isolation Beauty Feature
Hand sanitiser
Estée Lauder is reopening a factory just to produce hand sanitiser Beauty news
Huda Kattan
Huda Kattan pledges $100,000 to support struggling make-up artists Beauty news