You may hear their voices first, but more than likely the lasting impression you have of a celebrity is linked with the way they look. Putting a face to that voice. Whether it be in a movie, a tv series or a music video, the physical appearance of an artist is emphasized in some way, shape or form. It is something that helps you recognise them and associate them with the larger Hollywood appeal. The average person who enjoys celebrities knows that Julia Roberts is well known for her smile, similarly how Cara Delevingne is known for her eyebrows.

Julia Roberts displaying her famous smile.

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Jennifer Aniston’s portrayal of Rachel Green in the hit TV Sitcom friends started somewhat of a hair revolution. From the very beginning of the show, Rachel’s hair become something envied by viewers and there was a huge demand from women to get their hair styled like hers. The deems it as The (Hair)volution of Rachel from Friends. Her hairstyle in season one and two was so iconic, it was dubbed “The Rachel” and whilst many women rushed to get their hair styled, later Aniston herself said that she never understood why, that it was one of the least appealing hair cuts she has ever seen.

The first thought that popped into my mind when trying to describe celebrities and aesthetics though was Julia Roberts and her smile. Whilst conducting my research, I came across a phenomenon known as Hollywood’s Commercial Aesthetic and the first thing that popped up was a line from the movie Pretty Women: “It’s all about the money”. Julia Roberts seems to be the best introduction to this discovery that I made. To briefly sum up the phenomenon that I just mentioned, it is the belief that the appeal of the celebrity is used for the pleasure of the viewer or audience member. The vision of the viewer is addressed and in movies specifically, emotional responses are ignited but in a way that there is no real mental activity, just stimulation eliciting pleasure.

Movies are one of the best ways to escape reality and the actors in it are the vessel or the representative of this escape. They are literally the face. It is said that there is no lasting impact but I can contradict this very simply. Maybe the movie does not have a direct impact on an audience member, which is not always the case, there is always something you take from a movie, similarly a series or a music video. If there was no real or lasting impact, would so many women have marched their way down to the salon to get the ‘Rachel’?

Jennifer Aniston showing off her hair that many coveted.

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Entertainment is commercial and that is why the quote from Pretty Women works so well, it truly is about the capitalism. The pleasure that we receive from Hollywood productions is exactly that, a product. It is a product that we purchase and consume very regularly. So even if you are not a celebrity enthusiast, it is more than likely that you’ve interacted with some through the products placed into the world by this industry.

Celebrities and fans alike have been so embedded into this culture of appeal that they are in turn, ensuring that the commercial aspect stays afloat. How many celebrities have recently started their own makeup lines? Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian and Rihanna are just to name a few. The average everyday person has desires and aspirations and looking like their celebrity is not an uncommon nor unheard of goal. Thus the celebrities know their markets and generate products that bring their fans closer to them in a sense.

Kylie Jenner’s make up line which is widely desired on display in a store.

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Social media has definitely aided in this idea of making the celebrity more accessible. Take Instagram for example: a celebrity chooses which aspects of their daily lives that they want to share with the world, that would possibly never have been shared before. This sharing of small intimacies draws their audience members in, gives them something that helps the celebrity become that much more relatable.

Celebrities not only occupy, but have a huge impact on the commercial world. We have addressed hairstyles and makeup, but another obvious endorsement of theirs is in the fashion industry. A great example of this would be Kanye West. He is considered to have helped ‘revolutionise’ fashion with his brand Yeezy, making fashion more accessible to the average person. With this being said, if you were to invest into his particular product line, it is not the cheapest but reproducing the clothing style is not entirely difficult. It is casual clothing, sometimes it is athleisure, which is a combination of athletic and leisurely clothes. I mentioned Rihanna in makeup but she is also a large competitor with her clothing line named Fenty.

The actual physical products aside, the beauty items that celebrities associate themselves with become very popular in terms of reproduction by their audience members. Fans want to look just like their celebrity and start dressing and shaping their makeup after those that inspire them. The look that they put out into the world becomes a commodity for consumption, with hundreds of people flocking to get their hands on what the celebrity has. Take Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton for example. It is common for the outfits that she wears out in public for events to run out of stock in clothing stores in a matter of hours. Celebrities are the definition of Aesthetics.

Kate Middleton is not only a member of The Royal Family, but she is also a fashion inspiration to many.

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So what are Aesthetics for the purpose of this project? It is where the superfan is so inspired by the physical appearance of their celebrity that they start incorporating their style and beauty regiments into their everyday lives. Although each and every one of my superfans exhibit signs of this, Palesa Makam will be the face of this theme. Many people have told her she looks like a celebrity, often varying in who, but her most common reference is none other than Rihanna herself. Click on her story to see why!

Palesa Makam is a brilliant example of how celebrities impact the aesthetics of their superfans.

Image Source: Taylia Meese