One of the most fun nostalgic conversations to have with friends is what celebrities you had crushes on growing up. When I was in elementary school, I was all about Jonathan Taylor Thomas. He was my first major crush where thinking of him gave me almost a panicked feeling in my chest.
I remember discovering the ‘teen’ magazines at Shopko, their neon lettering and hearts practically leaping off the page, from the stands, far too much script to possibly fit on one cover. Bop, Tiger Beat, Teen Beat, BB, 16… all of them covered with photos of my beloved JTT (and later Hanson, but let’s just focus on one teen heartthrob). Every so often my mom would let me get one; I’d scour the pages for the very best photos, carefully peeking at the posters stapled in the center, trying not to tear any corners. My mom had access to a laminator at work and therefore I was allowed to pick one magazine page she would laminate for me. I knew the exact photo I would choose, painstakingly tearing it from the magazine and carrying it delicately by the top corners to my mom. “Don’t bend it,” I instructed her. I kept it lovingly next to my bed.
As I got older, I had celebrity crushes, mostly musicians (shocking, I know, to anyone who knows me now). But they didn’t feel as panicked or urgent as my elementary school years. Instead, I became obsessed with female celebrities I thought were cool and wanted to be. It was not uncommon for me to promptly change my hair after watching a movie or TV show with one of my celebrity idols.
The first of these celebrities that influenced me was Sarah Michelle Gellar, thanks to my major love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My mom worried their clothes were risqué and I would want to dress like them. On the contrary, my most favorite outfits were Buffy in her ‘patrol’ gear, leather jackets or baggy army green khakis, her hair carelessly twisted up into a hairclip, baby bangs pieced out across her forehead (of which I groan when I look back at photos of my attempt at these same bangs). I loved her quick wit, her power walk when she was on a mission to save the world (again) and how she still managed to be so feminine and badass at the same time. Side note: Sarah Michelle Gellar *always* tags her makeup artist in her Instagram posts, in case you didn’t know how much more awesome she could possibly be.
Next up – Drew Barrymore. With the current natural brow trends, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who lived through the 90s and doesn’t now reference Drew’s 90s brows (funny enough, her brows have come back from the trend in all their natural, full browed glory). Her style was so cool; her pixie cut, despite being adorned by a single daisy, still had an edgy quality to it paired with her slip dress and chunky platforms. I read every interview I could get my hands on and admired how her co-stars talked about, how genuine and loving she was. I admired her confidence, her ease of conversation, how often she laughed. I’ve changed my hair more times than I can count because of Drew. Messy blonde grown-out pixie (Wishful Thinking). Fiery red hair (Charlie’s Angels). Bleached out long hair (50 First Dates). From one fellow pieces to another, I still adore her.
Speaking of 90s brows, do you remember where you were the first time you saw Gwen Stefani? I remember sitting on my living room floor watching MTV when “Don’t Speak” came on. I was about ten, too young to actually know what to do with what I thought was so cool about her. Later, in my teen years, figuring out my style, I turn to Gwen and may or may not have done the following things: 1) Gone to the thrift store to find the perfect polka dot dress 2) Went to Hot Topic in search of bondage pants 3) Bleached my hair within an inch of its life. Believe it or not, I was not into makeup in high school, save for a little eyeliner and gluing stars to my face. But even looking at Gwen, I understood that not just anyone can pull off that red lip. Fun fact, Gwen did all of her own makeup ad styling for their debut video, “Just a Girl.” Her current makeup artist, Gregory Arlt, is one of my favorites (check him out!).
Gwen Stefani was the first rockstar I looked up to. Honorable mention to Shirley Manson from Garbage who opened me up to a world of music and appreciation for dark lipstick. I’ve got to give a nod to Brody Dalle of the Distillers who inspired my Manic Panic “Pillarbox Red” hair and whose smoky eyes I dreamed of doing (but didn’t know how). She, along with Ani DiFranco and Angelina Jolie (I know, she’s not a rockstar but might as well should be), sparked my interest in tattoos. Most importantly, this post would be nothing if I did not mention Josie and the Pussycats.
I’m astonished how many people aren’t familiar with Archie Comics, the same universe in which Josie and the Pussycats exists. The 2001 movie inspired by the comic ROCKED. MY. WORLD. I can tell you with 100% certainty, I immediately dyed my hair red the same weekend I saw the movie in the theater. Already a major fan of Rachel Leigh Cook (umm, hi, we spell our middle names the same) I was obsessed with her look in this movie. Her red hair, her perfectly smoky eyes, the cat ears, bell bottoms, sparkles, faux fur and leopard print. Hell, I STILL love all of those things! I listened to the soundtrack non-stop on my Walkman on the bus, dreaming about a world I would be a killer singer and have the confidence to sing in front of people and the style to pull off those clothes. Since writing this, I re-watched the movie and she’s just as cool in my mind. Again with the skinny brows, but the makeup is so beautiful; tons of shimmery violet, face gems and a whole lotta body glitter. Into it then. Into it now.
(Yeah, that’s high school me!)
I don’t know about you, but looking back on my teenage years, I realize the things I loved then are the core of things I still love to this day. During those pivotal years, we look outside of ourselves for inspiration to figure out who we are and what we’re about. Outside of hair color and cool clothes, what I admired so much in these women was how they seemed so confident, so unapologetically themselves. Even now, the people I’m drawn to, real life and celebrity, rock an ‘outsider’ quality; I still struggle to accept trends, which I don’t say as a brag, but is something I know I need to work on when embracing newness in the makeup world.
If you’d like to know an embarrassing truth about me, it’s that I wasn’t self-conscious about dressing like ‘myself’ until I started my own business. I’m not blind to the once-overs I get from mothers of the bride when I walk in the room. I actually used to always arrive to bridal parties in some sort of jacket or blazer, even if it was 90 degrees out so the first impression wasn’t my tattoos. I also used to buy a total separate wardrobe for working with clients – patterns and prints I would never pick out for myself… I wore baby pink for Pete’s sake! With all the social media marketing ‘strategies’ out there, it’s been shouted from the rooftops to show off your personality and what you’re all about. Listen, I’m not about to rock a Sex Pistols shirt for your wedding makeup, but I hope in showing off who I am in my clothes and makeup, I help people feel confident I’m invested in finding how who you really are and what you want from me as your makeup artist.
So tell me… who inspired you to be the ‘you’ you are today?