While searching myself for a name for my new column on Femme Galaxy I came across this fabulous series of photographs by Zerbetron called Beauty Ritual 2010, a 365 photo project with a twist. She took the time to not only photograph herself daily, but to then record the amount of time that it took her to apply her makeup and fix her hair every day. The times range from zero minutes to over two hours depending on the day. She says:
This process, most women refer to as a "beauty ritual". An activity that women have become to adapt to. Will knowing how much of my life I spend on a superficial aspect change how I view make up and the application? We'll find out!
I was struck by the name of per project. I have never worn makeup on a regular basis before the last few months, and even now it is rare for me to put anything on my face--I prefer to stick to my eyes and lips if anywhere--so I have never used the term beauty ritual before. Because it fits so well with what I'm interested in conveying I'm happily and blatantly taking the term and using it for this column. It fits so well with what I want to talk about while also being fairly broad so that I could talk about just about anything that falls under the "beauty" category, which is fairly broad in my world. Ritual also has a very special place in my life, and it holds extra meaning for me because of that as well.
After coming across this project of hers I have also been thinking a lot about my own beauty rituals. I have products I use on a regular basis, accessories I put on, clothes I wear, activities I engage in, all of which change depending on the day and my current gender presentation, and all of which could be considered beauty aids. I love this concept for a project, and am tempted to take on something similar myself, though mine would also be focused on my genderqueer presentation and how it changes depending on the day. For a long time I've thought that a 365 photo project would be a good idea, but they also seem like a lot of work once I decide to do them.
According to dictionary.com "beauty" is defined as "the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color, sound, etc.), a meaningful design or pattern, or something else (as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest)." One of the definitions for ritual is "any practice or pattern of behavior regularly performed in a set manner," though it also can have a religious or spiritual aspect as well. Combining these creates my understanding of what a "beauty ritual" is: any repeated practice or pattern of behavior that exhibits, enhances, or creates beauty.
By using such a broad definition, and because beauty is not a tangible thing but a feeling or sense, this could be such a wide variety of things, and that's exactly what I'm interested in exploring.