The Beauty Conversation

Appearance shapes the way the world sees us. But what does it say about who we really are? The Walrus contributors consider how we disrupt, define, and ultimately celebrate what we see in the mirror

The Beauty Conversation

Appearance shapes the way the world sees us. But what does it say about who we really are?

Many of us still feel pressured, despite decades of social progress, to follow the latest beauty trends, to age well, to be the right weight, to have the right clothes, the right hair, the right look. The digital age has ushered in an overwhelming era of Instagram models, vitamin gummies, detox tea, clean eating, #Fitspiration, spandex, skin care, and more. As our exterior lives continue to dominate our interior selves, The Walrus writers, designers, and multimedia artists consider how we disrupt, define, and ultimately celebrate what we see in the mirror.

The Price of Being Pretty


My mother used to comb my hair almost every week. The plastic pick comb would break, and she’d replace it with another one. She’d use oil and rub it into my scalp. I would cry without tears. She would console me with a voice that sounded both threatening and empathetic, “Il faut souffrir pour être belle.” She’d ask me, “Don’t I want to be pretty?”

What It’s Like to See the World through a Lazy Eye


Being lazy eyed has been a blessing and a curse. It’s been my identity. My party trick. My cheap laugh and my not-so-hidden shame for all of my twenty-four years that I can remember. I’ve milked my misaligned eye for humour, but it has also left me angry and in tears. Asymmetrical haircuts come into and go out of fashion. Asymmetrical faces? Not so much.

Why I Shared My Nude Photos on the Internet


I spent most of my teenage years and some of my adulthood beneath the shroud of oversized sweaters. Hiding my body. Concealing curves and cellulite and pale skin. I would pull a sweater over my head—the bigger the better—every morning, willing my body away. That girl could never have conceived that one day she would be standing naked in her living room, preparing for somebody to take photographs of her, preparing to put those photographs on the internet.

What I'll Never Wear to Work

We asked people, from actors to fashion designers, whose careers rely on their appearance to name their most hated office wear. Click on their names to hear their stories.

The Perils of Professional Dress


I was raised by a single mother who worked mostly as a secretary. To prepare for my future, I did typing drills and collated files when I was barely out of junior high school. Handy with a word processor and a multiline phone, I developed the kind of pleasant, capable disposition that made me hireable for jobs that normally went to older people. What my mother didn’t prepare me for was how my clothing choices could mark me as not belonging in those professional spaces.

Read more about men and beauty: “Why Media Obsession with Male Charisma has to stop.”

Jeans: The History of the World’s Most Democratic Clothing

Unlike many products that now permeate our lives, such as cell phones, TVs, and cars, jeans never started out as a luxury item. They never went through the process of becoming more affordable to become more mainstream.

When Did Self-Care Become so Unaffordable?


I have over 40,000 followers on Instagram. People have tattooed my work on their bodies. Today, I frequently receive messages about the positive effects my work has had. With each message that asserts I’ve helped someone heal, even just a little bit, my heart swells. But my brain also buzzes with the question: Why now?

How I Learned to Love my Natural Hair


When I was fifteen years old, I remember going to one of the many hair salons inside what was then called the Metrotown Centre mall. I wanted somebody to fix my amateur, home-dyed, white-blond hair. I’ll never forget the way the stylist looked me up and down like she was assessing the situation, assessing the damage. She paused for a millisecond with her white hand on her hip before blurting out that they couldn’t “do my kind of hair” at this salon.

The Year I Went Bald


A few months had gone by since I’d last seen my stylist. I could place my hands on either side of my head, seize a fistful of curls, and feel irritated by the thickness. It was time to shape my hair, prune it, make the style sleeker. To override a Samson-like superstition that cutting it would deprive me of my strength.

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Pair your makeup with your mood. Be who you want and do what you want. It all washes off at the end of the day #DisruptBeauty @walrusmag #wakeupandmakeup #bblogger #torontomua #beauty #makeup #makeuplooks

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We Asked How You #DisruptBeauty

And here is some of what you told us. To share your own stories of how you disrupt, redefine, and celebrate beauty, tag us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter with #DisruptBeauty.

“A few years ago, I shaved my head. Went from shoulder length curls to a #2 buzz cut. It made me feel simultaneously more vulnerable and more fearless than I ever could have imagined.” – @AmyLSpurway

“35 years of toxic dye & much hard-earned money down the drain later, I finally went grey. Joy!” — @Aoife_MacNamara

The Impossible Beauty Standards for Transgender Women


I have to admit, I’m tired of my face. As a comedian and all-around performer, I spend way too much time looking at it, not because I am particularly vain but because appearance and, subsequently, visibility are essential to making my work sustainable. So much of building a career in entertainment is about getting your face “out there.”

Beauty, Sex, and Love After Sixty


I fear I’m not quite the raven-haired “hottie” I once was. Oh, my hair is still raven coloured, sure, but nowwhen I look in the mirror, I sometimes see the ghost of Alan Rickman looking back at me. Not from Truly, Madly, Deeply. From the Harry Potter films.

The Walrus Staff