M.A.C: All Races, All Ages, All Genders
Identity. Individuality. Both words mean different things to different people. Not only in the semantic sense – their finite meanings being somewhat vague – but in the way that they represent personal constructs that, by their nature, differ from person to person. The concept of who we are is an uncertainty that has been eloquently explored by writers, philosophers, theorists, artists and thinkers for centuries.
Words LULA MAIN
Film DAN VALLINS
Identity, and what it means, is a metaphysical matter that cannot be rigid, because each individual is a fusion of multiple selves that are transient. Two floating models that are often used as representatives of Identity today, are the ‘organic’ self, and the ‘ideal’ self. These paradoxical alternatives are often pre-packaged and presupposed by beauty brands that want to sell things. It is a tactic within the commerce model of Emotional Brand Attachment. The former identity is sold to the public as an inherent version of you – the one that you were born with and the one that you will remain. It is often heralded as a ‘natural’ state that should be celebrated. The other is an identity that should be aimed for. It is an aspirational state that people must develop towards and continually strive to achieve. What brands often fail to posit however, is that these antithetical states of being of course overlap and entwine.
In reality, it would be impossible for any one person to wholly subscribe to either one of these positions. This way of recognising identity – whereby the consumer is encouraged to perpetually seek the ideal version of themselves, or comparatively maintain personal gratitude for the ‘real’ you – closes off avenues of individual expression, for it rejects the overlap of comparative identities.
Creativity, expression and the true exploration of individuality suffers at the hands of these classifications. When people ascribe themselves within accepted, identifiable categories, the multifaceted nature of their very true selves can be squashed. There are many facets to each and every person, and to participate in all of them at will and with conviction, is to truly be you. Yet, many of the current trends in beauty and fashion advertisement disregard this kind of self-expression in favour of their concept of your own ‘self’ as it relates to their brand. There are some beauty brands however, that refuse to subscribe to individualised divisions of identities. The core principles of M.A.C compellingly and unconventionally, run on the concept of paradox.
Self-proclaimed visionaries, they truly believe in the power of self-expression above all else and they are unique in the way that they celebrate not just the diversity of their client base, but the diversity of each and every person. Their values reject the traditional, aesthetic approach to beauty, instead lauding inclusivity and accessibility, yet still maintaining an incredibly high quality and expert status.
Instead of positioning the ‘organic’ you against ‘ideal’ you, M.A.C say you’re both at once, and all of the time. To marry the concept of the innate and organic self, to that of the ideal one, is quite a rebellious act. I like who I am in all of my forms, and I celebrate the present me, which is transient and changing. This concept does not fit conventional advertisement campaigns, but M.A.C make it their own by making it yours. Of course, they are still a business that endeavours to make a profit, yet the transparency of their manifesto, and the ways in which it truly manifests in everything they do, is what makes them a contemporary beauty brand that is distinct to most others.
If you don’t particularly fit in to the mainstream concepts of classifiable identities, or you’re nervous about experimenting with a new one – M.A.C has always been the beauty brand to welcome you with open arms. Their core ideology encourages experimentation with self-expression. There is no pressure to conform to their idea of the M.A.C customer, because what they nurture is a M.A.C community of fun, confident and inspired individuals, whom are welcomed regardless of race, gender, sexuality or age. This rhetoric is not just said in words; they are a company that truly walk the walk. A brand of irreverent, unexpected juxtapositions they reject the common one size fits all approach favoured by many other brands. It is an act that is rare and risky, but it has stood to define M.A.C as a community that ruptures labels and welcomes all. Pre-packaged ideas of individuality that stifle are done away with, and instead of subscribing to the widespread endorsement of definitive ideologies – they fuse those paradoxes to create new states. Toni Lakis the creative director of M.A.C, explains this core principle: ‘The beauty of M.A.C is that when all the facets of the brand come together, they create a mosaic. The beauty is that people themselves are mosaics. Traditionally, beauty brands go down the route of conventional, simplistic notions of diversity, but at M.A.C we believe in the melting of everyone and everything. That ultimately embodies our brand. There’s no one size fits all here.’
M.A.C celebrates all of you all of the time, and this idea of a free and fluid identity is so important. Identity itself, and what it represents, is utterly politicised. Any attempt to regulate it, by the subject or an outsider, is a statement of intent and declarations of individuality. To support freedom of identity and self-expression is crucial. M.A.C does not promote a ‘journey’ towards an ideal ‘you’, nor do they apply pressure to hail your ‘natural’ state. They declare each individual as a synthesis of both and more. It can be difficult to hold on to every facet of ourselves and appreciate the little bits that make the whole, but never before has it been so critical to stand as outsiders together that reject conventional aesthetics of beauty and common notions of identification. M.A.C are pioneers of self-expression that celebrate the art of truly, unapologetically, weirdly, wildly, uniquely being you.
Published in Beauty Papers Issue Six