Entertainment's Impact on Our Relationship With Beauty

I cut the cable cord years ago, but my connectivity never waned. Now, all forms of entertainment float into my life uninterrupted via invisible Wi-Fi signals to every available screen. I can watch TikTok videos from bed in the morning (learning viral dances definitely counts as exercise, right?). Disney movies come directly to my home, making my couch as cushy as a theater. I can listen to true crime podcasts or Broadway show tunes in the shower, and the Real Housewives…well, their endless drama screeches through my AirPods during subway travel. I can't even go to sleep without playing out a few rounds of The Oregon Trail on my tablet.

As our viewing options seem to grow exponentially with each passing month, so does the relationship between beauty and what we see and hear through our devices. (And we're seeing and hearing a lot: Streaming subscriptions rose by 32 percent in 2020.) After all, beauty is a form of entertainment, by turns exciting, diverting, edifying, serious, aspirational, inspirational, and just a lot of fun.

What's more, distinctions between fiction and real life often blur. For example, our cover star, Barbie Ferreira, hails from Euphoria, a show that has spawned over 300,000 Instagram posts tagged #euphoriamakeup, where rhinestones, freestyle swirls in neon, and chunky glitter abound. Both Barbie and Doniella Davy, the genius behind the series' makeup, hint that season two is going to be toned down to reflect more raw and natural moments. And that seems fitting after the past year. 

This special issue is divided into three chapters: TV, film, and music. In each section, we speak to those who spend time in front of the camera, like Rachel Zegler, who is starring in the 2021 adaptation of West Side Story, and singer-songwriter Victoria Monét. But we also speak to those who rarely get acknowledged — the hairstylists, makeup artists, prosthetic designers, and digital technicians behind the scenes. They are the ones who bring the creative vision to life onscreen and on the red carpet. They can transform Lady Gaga into an Italian socialite from the 1970s, make Elle Fanning a high-fashion Catherine the Great, and turn a show about teenage angst into a beauty platform more influential than any recent runway. Of course, they can also create some really scary monsters.

Like beauty, the entertainment experience lets us travel to different worlds and try on different selves. It lets us dream. Yes, it's important to balance screen life with real life and open our eyes to the world around us, but I'm still going to sing show tunes in the shower.

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