It didn’t hit me that I was entirely underdressed to attend the opening of Beauty Culture at the Annenberg Space for Photography until just hours before the event, when the media tip sheet landed in my inbox yesterday afternoon. Halle Berry, Gisele Bundchen, Sophia Bush, Alek Wek, Kirsty Hume…. Models. All models. Or beauty product spokespeople, but what’s the difference?
I let out a groan.
Let me explain. I’m lucky not to have any real self-esteem issues—I’m comfortable in flats and don’t bother much with makeup. But who, in jeans, wants to mill around with the world’s most beautiful women when they’re beautifully made up by professionals and beautifully dressed in borrowed designer clothes? The jeans were grey, but still. I rushed home, lost ten minutes staring at my closet, finally let go my vanity, grabbed something black, and was out the door.
It’s a good thing I let go. The exhibition, comprised of iconic photographs by Herb Ritts, Guy Bourdin, Lauren Greenfield, Matthew Rolston, and others, is something to see. There are black and whites of supermodels that are striking for how intimate, how non-commercial they feel. There’s a selection of party pictures of screen stars, their hair golden and curled just so, that together say something not so nice about our expectations of leading ladies. And, at the end of it all, there’s a section of art that explores the relationship between modern women, their bodies, and the beauty industry.
I don’t know what Ali Larter or Katie Holmes thought of the exhibition (I left before they glided in) but I certainly felt a little better— at least more confident and enlightened, if not any more attractive—than I did when I arrived. Not bad for a night out in L.A.