Cara Balen explores how the up-and-coming model Jazzelle Zanaughtti embodies the rising popularity of counterculture style in the beauty industry.

Over the last few years, the beauty industry has obsessed over a dizzying array of trends that have risen to popularity through online platforms. Sites like YouTube and Instagram have fuelled these crazes, sometimes labelled as challenges, which urge everyone – from social media influencers to the public – to engage in the same beauty routine and wear their makeup in the most popular way. You only have to look at the success of the Kardashian-style contour and highlight or the ‘Instagram brow’, which has become a favourite for beauty trend setters around the world, to realise the massive impact of such looks. Whilst this is extremely beneficial for the beauty industry, as millions of internet users are introduced to the power of makeup, there is a downside to the rise of such internet crazes. It is so easy for makeup artists to emulate these trends, turning the world of beauty into a place where everyone has the same homogenous face.

That is why it is so refreshing when someone injects a shot of individuality into the world of fashion. There is an alternative side to the beauty industry that celebrates those with a unique look and rejects the idealised ‘Instagram face’ – like the Kardashians or popular makeup artists like Huda Kattan. It seems that there is no one better to exemplify this than the model that everyone is talking about: Jazzelle Zanaughtti aka UglyWorldWide.

With a shaved head and eyebrows, messy makeup, and often sporting metal grills, Jazzelle radiates originality. Her look defies societal norms as she subverts every expectation of what a beautiful woman should be. She draws squiggles where her precisely painted eyebrows should be, and often smears her face with red makeup to mimic blood stains or bags under her eyes. It seems that she doesn’t just use her Instagram handle @uglyworldwide as a derogatory joke at her own expense but wears it like a badge of honour. Every look seems to be what society would deem as ‘ugly’, yet she shows that challenging the norm can be considered beautiful. There’s no better endorsement for her style than her spectacular rise from being a normal Instagram user to modelling for brands and designers, such as SAVAGE X FENTY and Gareth Pugh, after being noticed by the British photographer Nick Knight in 2016.

UglyWorldWide is embodying her nickname as she shows off her supposed ugliness on a world-wide platform. But Jazzelle refuses to bow down to societal pressures to become a typically feminine beauty queen. With every catwalk, photoshoot or magazine cover she makes sure to add a twist of her signature ‘ugly’. Her recent walk for Gareth Pugh highlights this, as half of her face was covered by sticking plasters, something that harks back to her early Instagram days in which she would often wear a plaster over her nose.

But although her looks are sometimes disconcerting, and can border on disturbing, it is hard to deny that Jazzelle is absolutely stunning. It is as if (quite literally) plastering ‘ugly’ makeup or fashion over her conventionally attractive body is a figurative middle finger to those who promote the idea that there is one standard of beauty that everyone should conform to. And the alternative beauty industry is loving it. Jazzelle is becoming more and more popular as an increasing number of brands want to showcase her unique look.

In fact, ASOS have just released a new campaign with Jazzelle. Directed by Terence Neale, the theme of the campaign is the never-ending possibilities of fashion as one’s ‘style is never done’. The promotion features a video in which Jazzelle transforms into numerous looks, ranging from an alien to a punk rocker. In it she asks, ‘do you consider yourself a freak?’, and we, as part of the audience, want to shout out ‘yes – you make being a freak look so good!’.

Jazzelle acts as a beacon to everyone out there who doesn’t want to, or can’t, fit into what seems to be the popular standard of beauty. As a queer person of colour, she stands out as a voice for those who were born to be different, and it’s a voice that is getting louder as more people realise that being different is becoming the new popular. The public are becoming tired of seeing the same ‘Instagram face’ everywhere and are getting ready for a new generation of beauty influencers who are making counterculture makeup the new trendy.

You can find out more about Cara’s work by following @BalenCara on twitter.

Image via Instagram

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