What does make-up and beauty mean to you?

  • Date

    Wed 23 Oct 19

Archive picture of woman with curlers in her hair

Essex historians exploring beauty, fashion and make-up in post-war Britain are launching a series of events next month where they hope people will share their secrets, tips and favourite trends as well as photos of their experiments in fashion and make up.

The Made Up: Health and Beauty Secrets Past and Present series, hosted by the Department of History, will explore how personal style and grooming practices have changed since the 1950s and what beauty really means.

There will be opportunities to have your nails painted by transgender activist Charlie Craggs at an historic beauty salon, share pictures and experiences for an exhibition charting the history of Essex style, and make DIY magazines at a creative workshop with artist Lu Williams.

Organised by Dr Daisy Payling, the events are part of the national Being Human 2019 campaign, which champions humanities research.

Dr Payling is a Research Fellow on the Wellcome Trust-funded project Body, Self and Family: Women’s Psychological, Emotional and Bodily Health in Britain, c. 1960-1990.

She said: “Make up is much more than skin deep. It is often trivialised but it can play an important part in people’s lives, whether that be about creative self-expression or trying to blend in.

“At our Being Human events we’d like people to reflect on what make up and other grooming practices mean to people, to celebrate the diversity of experiences and highlight the changes to women’s lives in recent times.”

Dr Daisy Payling
"Make up is much more than skin deep. It is often trivialised but it can play an important part in people's lives, whether that be about creative self-expression or trying to blend in."
Dr Daisy Payling Department of History

All the events are free but make sure you don’t miss out by registering:

Beauty School Drop In, 16 November, 10am-4pm, One Colchester Hub
Visit the historical beauty salon and discover how women have used hair and make-up to express themselves from the 1950s to now. Get your nails painted by trans activist and nail artist Charlie Craggs. Take part in craft activities, hear talks by Fabiola Creed on the history of tanning and Mark Anderson on men’s changing hair styles, and tell us your story. Don’t forget to bring photos documenting your own changing style.

Faces: An Exhibition of Changing Essex Style, 23 November, 10am-4.30pm, Firstsite
Discover the changing faces of Essex style and self-expression. Take a look at photos of local people’s experiments with fashion, hair and make-up, and listen to recordings of people’s beauty experiences.

Glow Up: Zine Workshop, 23 November, 12pm-2pm, Firstsite
Join our creative workshop with artist Lu Williams from Grrrl Zine Fair. Get hands-on and investigate health and beauty ideals promoted by social media and magazines. Reflect on diverse experiences and alternative uses of make-up and find out how grooming has been used for empowerment throughout history. And make your own DIY magazine!

Being Human 2019 is a national campaign hosted by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and the British Academy. The programme of big ideas, big debates and engaging activities for all ages champions the excellence and relevance of humanities research, showing how it helps us understand ourselves, our relationships and the challenges we face in a challenging world.