The ethnic makeup tutorial finds some unlikely new faces.
Lauren Luke, who is better known as Panacea81 was bullied about her looks in school. She dropped out. Had a baby. Worked as a taxi dispatcher. Hawked makeup on eBay. Made some off-the-cuff tutorials about that makeup. Became an international fashion icon.
Panacea81 is now the second-most popular YouTube account in the UK. Luke writes a beauty column for the Guardian and has her own line of cosmetics. As her son Jordan plays with one of their pet pugs offscreen, she teaches us how to look like Britney Spears in one unedited tutorial. Amy Winehouse the next.
It’s when Luke shows us how to look like Bollywood Barbie that the tutorials get interesting. There is a paradoxical sincerity about learning Bollywood “attitude” from an earnest young self-effacing stay-at-home white mom who speaks in a dal-thick Geordie brogue.
There is money to be made in the smoky Arabic eye department. In a competing series of tutorials, a cheerful woman named MissChievous, who refers to some 333,220 subscribers as “you guises,” turns herself into Haifa Wehbe and demonstrates smoky Arab eyes that you can also wear to the prom (المكياج العربي).
But Luke’s real competition is Michelle Phan (aka RiceBunny). Phan takes the Kabuki brush farther down the multicultural rabbit hole in a Geisha tutorial. She turns herself into Mulan. She teaches her 1.4 million subscribers four different Chinese girl looks.
As a form, this new kind of makeup tutorial has become a quest to find that sweet spot between ethnic and exotic. Phan’s at her best when she wonders what happens if you combine anime with Gothic Lolita dolls? “Something dark and cute, but with a hint of creepiness,” is what she discovers. (It comes as no surprise that Phan has inspired an entire genre of parody tutorial.)
Which brings us to the overarching conceptual transformations of Asahi Sasaki (aka manwomanfilm).
There is no dialogue in a Sasaki YouTube tutorial. No instructions. None of the limitations of language. The enigmatic Sasaki does Makeup Kung Fu. Makeup Chinese Girl. A sultry Makeup Flight Attendant straight off the Saitama red eye. And the sort of Makeup Hippy you’d find bashing out Joan Baez ballads in an opium den. The soundtracks are as spot-on as the pitch perfect ethnic femme fatales she creates. And yes, she does smoky eyed Makeup Arabia too.
People may have disliked this video because ethnic usually means a lot of traditional garb from different cultures – usually those from the continent of Africa and native tribes from the Americas – is thrown into an amalgamation. Ignored is the meaning behind the garments, face paint, masks, and other adornments used. Though it disappoints me to see this one, I usually enjoy manwomanfilm’s videos.
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