The Palette is Political

closeup of a green eye, heavily made up with deep pink eyeshadow
Photo by John Jones III via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

During a 2017 residency at an artists’ colony, trying to find balance between focusing on her her poetry and dealing with the barrage of violent U.S. politics pounding on the colony door, Hannah Louise Poston discovered a potent avenue of escapism: YouTube beauty videos. She writes about them at VQR.

Each night, when I finally began to doze and my mind’s eye drifted inevitably to the spectacle of Melania teetering, runway-ready, on the wet tarmac; or to the phrase “fire and fury”—which is what Trump had said he would rain on North Korea—I kept my agitated mind from jolting itself awake and forfeiting even a half-chance of a good night’s rest by visualizing myself walking into a Sephora store and approaching the Kat Von D counter with its display of Everlasting Glimmer Veils. Which color would I choose? Rocker was copper with gold glitter, very flattering to my ultra-pale but warm-toned complexion. I thought I would definitely be purchasing Rocker. I liked Thunderstruck, too, but they were $22 each. I was into the idea of a glitter lip, but would I be reaching for it frequently enough to spend $50 (with tax) on two of these? Maybe I should start with Rocker, then go back for Thunderstruck if the finish and the formula both turned out to be amazing. And what about Dazzle, the lipstick of the year?

Lulled by visions of color and glitter and entrancingly inconsequential questions, I slept.

Unfortunately, there is little in the world that is not in some way political — including, as Poston quickly learns, makeup tutorials.

Read the essay