The glossy sheen of brand-new packaging. The pristinely smooth surface of an unsullied lipstick. The anticipation of uncapping a new product, and the triumphant victory upon realizing you’ve finally discovering a “holy grail.” Makeup can prompt a dizzying array of sensations. It’s seductive, it’s indulgent, it’s perhaps a bit hedonistic. Buying makeup is fun. Feeling like you cannot stop buying makeup even if you wanted to, however, is not.
Emma was 13 years old when she realized she had issues with depression and anxiety. “I spent a long time just trying to become diagnosed, so that I could receive assistance, and considering my age, I faced a lot of hesitancy from medical professionals before I was able to receive help,” she says. Now, at age 18, Emma isn’t shy about sharing her own experience with others. She has a long-standing relationship with a therapist, and she’s discovered some coping mechanisms that actually work for her. One of the most significant — and perhaps surprising — happens to be makeup.
In the year 2051, the Chinese have a space elevator. Lamb chops, Irish coffee, and sexual pleasure are all consumed via hologram. And, thanks to the research and innovations of neuroscientists like Dr. Phil Kennedy, canned brains housed in life support machines are being shot into outer space in hopes of reconstituting a human population on new planets.
Picture the last time someone told you an outfit was "flattering." Was it a sales associate? A mother or well-meaning aunt? A friend well-versed in glossy magazine wisdom and skilled at comparing torso shapes to pieces of fruit? Try to remember what, specifically, they pointed out. It may have been a cut that minimized your hips, a print that obscured your midsection, a tailored seam that made your waist appear smaller. Perhaps it hinged on negative space, making it appear that your body takes up less physical room than it does in reality.
On a warm Saturday afternoon in tiny, rural Jefferson, Georgia, Neil Summerour welcomes me into his family’s home. He leads me past a bathroom with ornate chalk lettering on the walls bearing pithy advice for proper toilet use (“If at first you don’t succeed, flush again”) down the staircase into a subterranean space lined with all manner of tools and trinkets: Transformers action figures, Japanese weapons and physics textbooks alongside Type Directors Club annuals and kid-scrawled crayon doodles pinned up caddy-corner from Summerour’s hand-drawn letterforms. We’re in the midst of what Summerour affectionately refers to as his “mad scientist’s laboratory”—the studio where he spends countless hours crafting his own versions of the alphabet, again and again.