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A Tale as Old as Time
The old tails of an enchanting female beauty are dated way back to a time when beauty was known to lead countries to war and to when men who dared to follow a siren’s call would fatally drown. Fairy tales have been part of literature for centuries, constructing cultural norms while enforcing beauty ideals and creating a shatterproof foundation on the significance of female physical attractiveness. This editorial explores the sense of reverence and persistence attached to the feminine fairy tale beauty ideal, while arguing for a contemporary tale against obsolescence.
A Beauty and a Beast
The feminine beauty standard has been a tale as old as time, to be more precise, its dating back to the birth of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty. Since there has never been a god of beauty, there’s a fair argument for the generational pattern of associating physical attractiveness with exclusively female characters. When we talk of fairy tale beauty, we talk of princesses, and enchanting fairies, vibrant skin, slim figures, and youthfulness. What we never talk about are the witches, the evil stepmothers: the wicked. It is as if physical beauty is associated with goodness, while female villains are usually portrayed having wrinkles and moles. Occasionally, the villain is given a non-human entity entirely, portrayed often with lots of hair and sharp teeth.
In fact, this correlation and physical excellence with good morals has been around since the ancient Greeks and while beauty is often rewarded, lack of beauty is punished. Something about this excellence and the imaginary figures that personify it, feel ironic rather than aspirational when put in today’s context. When we think of female fairy tale characters, we cannot turn a blind eye to the shadow of western influences, where the meaning of beauty has been compromised, isolating and in many cases excluding any form of beauty that doesn’t comply with the standards set.
Stories Through Colour
Colour palettes are extremely significant in fabricating these worlds of good and evil. In most tales, we see darker palettes such as black and shades of purple associated with the villains whereas the main female character is often depicted with brighter colours such as light pink, yellow, light shades of blue and green. It is through these fairytales that colours have come to have such a strong attachment to feeling and while colours are placed into categories, they continue to help construct the narratives of beautiful and ugly. The experience of seeing it is most clearly shaped by the stories we tell the younger generation and it is through these stories, from early childhood that a woman is encouraged to survey herself continually. It is through these stories that we enable these choices of visual performance to act as affirmations for social constructs. This editorial celebrates the wicked, and these images act as a testament of resistance to these feminine beauty standards, challenging dominant narratives.
LOAD uses SFX makeup and colour to enhance facial features, honouring an alternative way of seeing, giving a stage to expression and individuality. These images act as a spotlight for these all-time favourite villains, like Ursula from the Little Mermaid, the Big Bad Wolf from the Little Red Riding Hood and Medusa from Ancient Greek Mythology as they help us recognise that there is no single definition of beauty, there never was and there never will be. But in developing and sharing a variety of definitions to this construct, we are looking to create a more inclusive narrative.
A Modern Fairytale
It is seemingly fair to argue that these tails were constructed and appropriated to assume a particular aesthetic required in their respectable timeline. Representations can be subject to change, as much as they are subject to solidity. There is importance in understanding how people tell stories, and what those stories do. We have to witness them, and really engage with them, if we are to justify holding them immortal. As we introduce new fairy tales, what will determine impact on a wider scale is how narrators handle the responsibility of their influence, and where they draw the lines between reality and imagination. The persistent glorification of feminine beauty in children’s fairy tales is long overdue. It’s time for a change of guard, as we kiss outdated feminine beauty standards of the past goodbye, and usher in a revolution, creating our very own version of a happily ever after.
Photographer YIANNIS SPANOS @senco._
In frame CHRISTOS ALEXIADIS @christos_alexiades,
ANTON LESHCHENKO @tony_lesh,
COAST MINOS @atcminos
Creative Directors FILIPPOS VOGDANIS
Set and Assistant Creative Director
@godblessdrama ELEKTRA AVGOULI
MUA MARIANNA VARLAMOU @mariannayork
Hairstylist FILIPPOS VOGDANIS @philip.vogdanis
Wig ALEX METAXOULIS @alexmethair
Article MARIA MAVRI @_MARIA__MAVRI_