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Anyone who keeps up with the most recent trends in makeup such as contouring, baking, and overlining your lips will be very aware of the people who popularised these trends: namely the Kardashian-Jenner clan and all of its ilk. But what if I told you that none of the trends at hand were actually invented by Kim, Kourtney or Khloe. Believe it or not, the credit received is not always the credit actually due amongst the Kardashian sisters, or any other female blogger of Instagram who make us obsess over a primordial need to set our under eyes with some of Laura Mercier’s sensational setting powder. The real credit in fact belongs to the LGBTQ+ community, with particular acclaim due to the American and British Drag subcultures that are made up by a majority of gay men and transwomen, and further still many of these artists being of colour. It is only in the past ten years thanks to the dawn and subsequent cultural dominance of RuPaul’s Drag Race that we accept as a society that drag is actually an art form at all.
One of the most significant trends that drag queens invented is ‘baking’, or as it is still known between queens, ‘cooking’. This is the process of using a lot of loose powder to allow makeup to heat and set to the natural temperature of the face in order to blend and last more seamlessly. This is something the LGBTQ+ community has been doing since the 1960’s, but it now seems to be the case that such techniques have become popularised by straight and cisgendered influencers. Mainstream straight artists are branded as innovative, and wrongfully thought to be at the original core for the tips and tricks devised.
Another issue similar to this stems from the hype between Kylie Jenner and wigs. In reality, black women and LGBTQ+ artists have been using wigs in daily life for decades, not just since Jenner’s appreciation in 2015.
Moving beyond aesthetics, other trends such as the voguing dance style (made known by Madonna), and gay slang like the word ‘shade’, are all typical examples of how the straight mainstream has a habit of swallowing up the art and culture of the LGBTQ+ community. Subsequently, and somewhat conveniently forgetting, exactly where their new favourite slang term or go-to makeup technique came from.
This is by no means an attack on the mainstreaming of gay and trans culture through the medium of our art, but it is a criticism of the people who are willing to profit off the backs of said culture and make no real attempt to correctly identify where these skills, looks, and aesthetic choices have originated from. Ultimately, this exposes the reality that whilst the world of fashion and beauty appears to enjoy LGBTQ+ and cultural presence much more than in many other industries, it remains to experience some social ‘straight’ washing, diminishing the significance and origins of their own cultural and aesthetic practices.