The Partial Resurrection of Auxiliary Beauty

Last September, I wrote what I thought would be my final post on Auxiliary Beauty. I had a few reasons for ending the blog: my demanding schedule, my increasingly utilitarian approach to makeup, and my desire to focus on other kinds of writing. The next six months gave me no reason to regret my decision. I adjusted to my full-time teaching job and finished a long essay that I’m now trying to get published. I decided to leave academia (well, the job market decided for me), and I looked forward, sort of, to figuring out a new career path. I enjoyed trying out new makeup without photographing it extensively or coming up with a hot take for a blog post. I wrote occasional short reviews on Instagram, but I felt no need to make those reviews exhaustive.

Then came the coronavirus pandemic, which upended all my expectations for this year. As the weeks of lockdown passed, I found myself missing my blog and wondering if I could resurrect it while maintaining the mental freedom that its absence had produced. Beauty blogging hadn’t taken time away from other creative writing, exactly, but it had occupied valuable mental space. It had become an unneeded source of (entirely internal) pressure and expectation, and I didn’t know how to start blogging again without allowing the pressure and expectation to creep back in.

Last night, while mulling over these questions and absent-mindedly scrolling through ’70s makeup looks on Pinterest, I came across this photo:

Barry Lategan for Vogue UK, June 1972.

I was struck by the unexpected combination of bright coral and deep rust. It made me want to pair my new coral blush, Fenty Strawberry Drip, with autumnal shades on my eyes and lips. But I wanted to do more than copy the look. I wanted to write about it. I wanted to analyze the Biba-meets-Baroque aesthetic of the photo. I wanted to review Strawberry Drip in the context of the photo. I wanted to discuss the other images and artworks that the bright watermelon coral of Strawberry Drip evokes for me. And I couldn’t do all that in an Instagram post. So this morning, after submitting my final grades for the spring semester, I opened Blogger and started to write, just to see how it would feel. It felt good. I kept writing.

I don’t know how long this incarnation of Auxiliary Beauty will last, or how frequently I’ll post, but I’ll try to keep it as low-key as possible. I’m curious whether blogging can coexist with the new habits of writing I’ve cultivated since last summer. If the answer turns out to be no, or if I catch myself feeling blog-related stress or guilt, I’ll stop again. But for now, I think posting occasionally will bring me pleasure, which is in short supply these days. I hope my posts bring you pleasure, too.

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