Internet Art Star Molly Soda Tackles the Economy of 'Looking Natural'


“No Make-Up” make-up is all the rage these days, a technique which in practice is just wearing tons of make-up that makes you look like you are not wearing make-up. That’s fine—I’m all about the “natural” look—but the actual name is absurd, because you are wearing tons of make-up to look as if you’re not wearing any make-up.

Either way, the feminist internet artist and Tumblr icon Molly Soda, whose main steez is knowingly spoofing the internet’s funhouse-of-mirrors aspect with selfies and persona-building, is taking a deep dive into how much it costs to look “natural” with her new project.

In a new series for NewHive, Soda looks behind the inherent absurdity of dropping tons of money on looking “natural,” and questions the very concept of how we define “natural.” It’s a brilliant and timely topic ripe with loads of potential, especially in the age when Photoshop and related programs have altered the concept of realistic beauty, from Vogue to your cousin’s Instagram account.

Soda (on the right in the video above) follows YouTube beauty tutorials to a T, questioning what being “natural” all means while participating in the ritual in real time. She says:

“most of the makeup used in the videos i went out and bought. i wanted to actually pause to think about how much money it costs to look like you’re not wearing any makeup at all. i also wanted to genuinely test the effectiveness of these videos. i generally watch makeup tutorials as a sort of soothing, comforting thing, hearing voices speaking to me from my computer, so much deliberate love and care goes into the act of painting your face… but i’ve never actually attempted any of them until now. once i started shooting the videos i thought about how distinctly different each woman’s “natural” ritual is. we’re all essentially trying to achieve the same “look” but the outcome feels un-natural and foreign on my face.”

It’s interesting that she notes the “soothing, comforting” aspect of it, because while I’m not normally taken to watching 13 minute make-up videos on the internet, this one gave me the same sensation. The original beauty blogger’s voice is hypnotic, but so is Soda’s method; she sometimes wrestles with the packaging, and allows herself to be more awkward (and, arguably, more “natural”) than beauty blogger appears to be. Most of all, it’s a process in questioning what it means to be us, when the internet thrusts so many more ideals in our faces than we ever had before.

You can watch the entire project unfold here at NewHive. The series is, of course, entitled “Woke Up Like This.”

Image via screenshot.

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