Beauty is Pain

One of the most profound image series I ever saw was shown to me only a few weeks ago by a friend of mine.  At first I thought it was a pretty interpretation of a girl’s life and didn’t think much more into it, but when this topic arose in class it was the first thing I thought of.  Truth is, the pictures had been on my mind quite a bit since she’d shown them to me, and the way in which they can be interpreted has differed among the people I’ve shown them to.

“And Everything Nice” by Hannah Altman is a series of images that presents young girls in various positions relevant to everyday life, such as grazed knees and bleeding gums, with the blood and other bodily fluids replaced by glitter. {1}  The denotation of these images is what is immediately obvious to viewers – in this case, that the girl’s blood and tears are replaced with glitter.

The connotations of the image, however, are hidden in the way we look at young girls in society today.  These images are undeniably beautiful, but only because the ugly parts of being a girl have been replaced with something beautiful.  It’s a harsh comment on the media’s representation of women today.

Have you ever watched an ad for a woman’s razor, or for a skin cream?  Notice how the woman will shave a leg that’s already hairless and bronzed, and will rub cream into her flawless complexion to remove wrinkles she doesn’t have?  Honestly you probably haven’t – it’s just the normal.  If there’s no room for acne or leg hair, then crying, bleeding and throwing up are definitely not part of the “beauty” label.

As a woman myself, I went through (and still go through) issues of body image and these images highlight this perfectly.  To me, I see these images and think of how I had to hide my tears by going to the bathroom and reapplying my mascara, or touching up the makeup on my nose after using a tissue when I have a flu.  Girls have to be beautiful – full stop.

When I showed my younger brother these images, he just thought they used glitter because “girls like glitter, don’t they?  It’s a pretty girly thing, like ‘sugar spice and everything nice'”.  His ideology is different to mine in that as a boy, he has a different interpretation of what these images are trying to convey.  Interesting.

Brooke xx


3 thoughts on “Beauty is Pain

  1. I am a guy so I cant relate to these things, but I think this is a great blog posts as these images can be perceived in many different ways especially for females as all females can relate to this through past experiences. great blog post overall !


  2. This is absolutely amazing. One of the best photo series I have ever seen, and it is so incredibly powerful. The underlying meaning behind all these images is something that hits hard and the glamorisation of all these parts of a woman’s life explains or demonstrates exactly how it is portrayed in society. The idea that girls always have to be society’s version of beautiful is ridiculous and I think within this post you have wonderfully executed the way these images are meant to be viewed. Well done Brooke, really really well written and a good choice of images to analyse.


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