Wild About Wild Beauty's Meli Pennington: "The Media Discussion of Beauty Is [...] Sexist"


Beauty can be such a heavy touchy love-hate helluva SUBJECT. For one, it's something everyone deals with, whether you wear no makeup and haven't gone for a trim (anywhere) for 10 years, or are on the members-only injectables-preview list at your plastics guy in Bev Hills.

It's all tied to self-image. And that is something we all have.

To us here at The Self-Love Formula, beauty, however you define it, is an important part of your human experience. Yes, we loooove beauty. I mean, it's part of our mission statement.

And when we want a second opinion about the social implications of such a seemingly "superficial" subject, we turn to Meli Pennington, founder and maven makeup artist behind Wild Beauty.

Because she gets it. When we want a historical or cultural context, an honest assessment, a round up of what's happening beauty-wise in the world, MUA-approved products-to-get, we take a gander at what Meli's been mixing up over on her site.

Not only that, but Meli has a wickedly impressive CV that boasts featured work in mags like Vogue, Teen Vogue, VGlamour, Allure, and Nylon, and alongside major fashion photogs Patrick Demarchelier and Arthur Elgort.

THIS is the woman I'd want working on my face and bring my best features forward, amirite?

Of course hers was a beauty brain I wanted to pick, and so I did. Read on for the ravishing results (and her favorite beauty buys!).

On your site, Wild Beauty, you "explore the interplay of beauty and culture from a creative insider's perspective." From your experiences as a makeup artist in New York, what have been some of the most striking observations you've made about the role beauty has in our culture?

Beauty has a strange place in modern American culture. It’s very important, especially in media and commerce, but also reviled as superficial. Beauty practices, and makeup in particular, have been looked on as frivolous and unnecessary in our history. But humans have an innate appreciation of beauty and decoration -- our humanoid ancestors were decorating their faces and bodies before they were using metal tools -- so there’s no way to really suppress it. Beauty is like music, dance, or cuisine - you can say it’s not necessary for survival, but humanity isn’t about mere survival, is it?

What sparked the idea of creating your own site and what did you want to accomplish with it?

I had long been obsessed with beauty’s connection to so many things - art, technology, commerce, even religion and morality. Wild Beauty started as a television idea. The media discussion of beauty is dominated by advertising and quote/unquote "feminist" criticism. Beauty and grooming practices - the entire craft of fashion and beauty - are treated like fluff. It’s actually quite sexist - we have the History Channel for men, and a zillion beer shows, but for women we have cupcakes, bridal gowns, and hair pulling “bad girls.” I felt like Wild Beauty would be the makeup equivalent of the chef talking about cuisine, and not just the junk food companies and the nutritionists.

In starting the site, I’ve grown the conversation through social media. And I’ve noticed that other sites and media outlets have expanded their topics since then as well.

You offer a very intellectual, positive and informative take on beauty on Wild Beauty. Do you bring that perspective into your work as a MUA? If so, how?

I think that my makeup work comes from a place that loves faces and beauty. A lot of my “real women” clients are intimidated by makeup, and the whole fashion world in general, but when it comes to application, the first thing to do is find the beauty of the face itself. Sometimes less really is more - the training and experience is deciding which products to use and which ones to leave alone. It’s different for every face.

What/who have been some of your favorite projects that you've worked on as a MUA?

Many of my favorite photos involve a beach location - though usually it’s totally off-season and freezing! When the photos are amazing, I forget the pain.

What has been the most enlightening experience or lesson you've learned since starting the site?

There is great power in dreaming, and great power in doing. When I started the site, I was terrified of writing; I procrastinated terribly, and I felt fear every time I hit the “publish” button. But pushing through those fears has allowed me to live more fully in my own skin, and expressing the things I always wanted to has brought me people and opportunities that fit who I really am.

What are your top three Holy Grail beauty products that you cannot live without?

Red lipstick: Currently it’s Rouge Dior in Rouge Zinnia Eyelash curler & mascara: Shu Uemura and Maybelline The Rocket Sunscreen: At least 360 days a year since I was 20; it’s the one thing I’ve done consistently. But it really does prevent wrinkles. People think I’m a vampire!

In our experience, what you eat definitely shows up on your face. Do you have any dietary tricks that keep your skin fresh and healthy?

I have a veggie and egg fry-up that I eat for breakfast when I have time. I basically sauce zucchini, orange or yellow pepper, shiitake mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes in butter, then fry an egg in the pan. Eating that for a couple days makes my skin glow -- and I have energy for hours.

Reveling in a relationship, single and loving it, or Tindering?

Married for 21 years! I’m very lucky to have a best friend and ally who gets me.

What can you never leave home without?

Lip balm. Yes, I’m addicted!


A HUGE thanks to Meli for answering my Qs! For more from Meli, you can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google PlusBloglovin', LinkedIn, and Tumblr.

Beauty, Career, MediaJuliaComment