What I Learned About Beauty at #SparkSessions

What is this stuff? What does it do? Why are marshmallows everywhere?

I had my mind blown and I think I understand makeup now. 

When you spend the weekend embedded with Toronto’s fashion and beauty blogger community you’re going to learn a lot. I just helped out at the inaugural SPARK Sessions, a fashion and beauty blogger conference and it was great. It was the first of its kind in Canada and was held by more wonderful people than I can mention (although I did right here).

I had a tough job on my hands… spending a weekend surrounded by amazing women and do what they told me. It was a blast I’d do it again in a minute! The whole event had me thinking, why do women care so much about fashion and beauty that they’d build expansive blogs and an engaged community around both? Because women are awesome, duh? But really, I was confused about beauty – not beauty by definition, but the industry.

First off, I didn’t really know anything about beauty until this weekend. Sure, I had the idea that women like looking their best and one way that some women feel that they can do that is through the application of products but that’s missing a deeper more nuanced message.

Makeup and the act of applying it, is a deep and meaningful form of non-verbal communication. For some it is a hell of a lot of fun. Listening to women who are passionate about beauty speak together about it, is similar listening to a group of men who are passionate about restoring beautiful vehicles. Not to compare a woman’s face to a 1975 Jaguar Rohnart, but the tone and passion expressed by these engaged communities is similar. It is just that one group likes the engineering of a V6 and the other  the shade of one’s lipstick. The wheels of my analogy fall off quickly, but what I’m getting at is this: beauty is as deep and as relevant a culture as cars or automotive

Wearing makeup is a way to share yourself with the world. In applying it with finesse (and as I learned this weekend, in ever greater detail as technology improves) you are telling people that you are capable of refined intricate tasks and importantly that you are willing to undertake them. For me I get about as far as undertaking a tie around my neck and floss between my teeth; I might have to reconsider my morning routine.

So what is beauty about? Definition (of character and eyebrow), awareness (self and cultural), storytelling and homogeny in the sense that your make up can make you, one of many and that’s a good thing. There are identities and histories found within the styles of make up women choose to wear just as there are identities and histories found within the vehicles people choose to drive. Neither beauty or cars is vain, nor are they fleeting.

You don’t drive beauty down the highway, you wear it at work, on the subway and in line at the bank.

My mom calls it, “Putting her face on”.

With a little makeup any woman can smoothen a few fine lines but it is character of self that shines through any foundation, blush or liquid gloss. The culture of beauty is the reverence of that fact. It is not a glorification of the vain, or the needless. It is an amelioration of spirit and identity.

This brings me back to the fashion and beauty bloggers I met this weekend; each has their own style and tone but they are all confident and intriguing individuals, their blogs are no less so of either.

Now if someone could just help me understand glamour…

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