As a Trinidadian-Canadian woman, my relationship with beauty is a complicated one, to say the least. Growing up, my Caribbean mother imparted to me the advice that when it comes to skincare, less is more. Few products earned my mother’s loyalty enough to reappear in our medicine cabinet. (Among them were Clinique’s Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion and Nivea’s Nourishing Day Care, and she always kept a bare face.) But, rebel that I was, I vividly remember walking into the drugstore as a teenager, armed with a few dollars and finally ready to make my own purchases. I’d always loved beauty products and finally had the freedom to try new things and make my own beauty mistakes, desperate to experiment, to stray from my mother's routine.
Fast-forward half a decade later, and my love for beauty products has only expanded. Today, I’m a beauty writer, so I spend a lot of time reviewing and testing out new products. And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the beauty industry is experiencing a moment of excess. As South Korea’s 10-step skincare regimens have become more popular in the West, brands have expanded to accommodate. Mask after mask, serum after serum, and eye creams targeting wrinkles my 19-year-old skin doesn’t yet have. As a product junkie, I love getting my hands on the latest and greatest, but it recently dawned on me that I might be doing more harm than good.
Original Illustration by Stephanie DeAngelis
Here at Byrdie, we know that beauty is way more than braid tutorials and mascara reviews. Beauty is identity. Our hair, our facial features, our bodies: They can reflect culture, sexuality, race, even politics. We needed somewhere on Byrdie to talk about this stuff, so… welcome to The Flipside (as in the flip side of beauty, of course!), a dedicated place for unique, personal, and unexpected stories that challenge our society’s definition of “beauty.” Here, you’ll find cool interviews with LGBTQ+ celebrities, vulnerable essays about beauty standards and cultural identity, feminist meditations on everything from thigh brows to eyebrows, and more. The ideas our writers are exploring here are new, so we’d love for you, our savvy readers, to participate in the conversation too. Be sure to comment your thoughts (and share them on social media with the hashtag #TheFlipsideOfBeauty). Because here on The Flipside, everybody gets to be heard.
Want more stories from The Flipside? Next, read about the secret beauty issue Asian-Americans face every summer.