Queer Models Reimagine Vintage Beauty Campaigns

Queer Models Reimagine Vintage Beauty Campaigns

Say hello to the '70s as they should have been. Photographer Julia Comita and makeup artist Brenna Drury have come together for an exciting, new photo series called Prim 'n Poppin' that challenges non-inclusive beauty standards from the world of yesterday.

Prim 'n Poppin', a name that mixes slang from the old school ("prim") and new school ("poppin"), reimagines antique beauty ads that were predominantly cis-het and white. The fictional campaign showcases beauty from a diverse cast of models that exist across racial backgrounds and multiple identities, from transgender to nonbinary, while also spotlighting body positive subjects.

"We both are disturbed by the lack of diversity in global commercial advertising," the collaborators said in a statement. "These commercial images are seen by millions of beauty consumers, many of whom do not reflect traditional standards of beauty found in cosmetics advertising."

They continued, "Despite the recent evolution of the industry, trends in traditional beauty advertising largely promote a cis-gendered [sic] standard that glorifies youth and fair-skin. It is this preconceived ideal of beauty that Prim 'n Poppin'challenges."

Maria Rivera (she/her), who is featured in the series, revealed how important this new photo initiative is. "When I was younger, to be part of the beauty world was merely only a dream for me," she said. "For me, it represents all the young transgenders' dreams of having freedom to choose, enjoy and live their lives, with their preferred lifestyle and sexual preferences, without any prejudice or need to fit the society's mold and norms."

Coral Johnson (they/them) explained how the series would have impacted them as a child. "Images like this not only would have changed my thinking [as a teenager], but everybody else would have seen them too and maybe not treated me so awfully or made me feel like such a wrong type of person," they said. "It would have changed a lot for everybody."

Comita and Drury currently have plans to expand the series soon, so it's exciting to imagine what will come next as they look to celebrate models of all ages, genders, expressions, body shapes and backgrounds. Comita has applied for several grants to potentially keep the project, which is currently self-funded, going.

"We are asking big brands to step up and take responsibility for their casting choices, advertising and marketing, and encourage our fellow creatives to generate conscious content," the artists said. "Who says activism can't be glamorous?"

To follow the project, visit prim-poppin.com.

Photography: Julia Comita
Makeup: Brenna Drury