Made Up: Health and Beauty Secrets Past and Present

Join us this November for three events exploring health and beauty in post-war Britain. Part of the Being Human Festival’s ‘Discoveries and Secrets’ series, these events will give audiences the chance discover how historical beauty culture has shaped understandings of body image and wellbeing, and reflect on how their own grooming practices inform their sense of self.

Beauty School Drop In

Saturday 16 November 2019, 10:00-16:00

One Colchester Hub, 81 Culver Street East, Colchester, Essex, CO1 1LF

Visit our historical beauty salon and discover how women have used hair and make-up to express themselves from the 1950s to now. The salon will highlight changes to women’s lives, celebrate the diversity of women’s health experiences, and investigate ideas around femininity: demystifying the beauty secret.

At the event you can join craftivist activities and hear short talks from Fabiola Creed on the history of tanning and Mark Anderson on men’s changing hair styles. Tell us your stories about the role beauty plays in your life and bring photographs documenting your changing style. If all this wasn’t enough you can get your nails done on the day by trans activist and nail artist Charlie Craggs.

We will also be collecting new and un-used toiletries throughout the day to donate to One Colchester’s Hygiene Bank and help fight hygiene poverty. If you can, please bring items such as sanitary pads & tampons, shampoo & conditioner, face wash, cleanser & creams, body wash, body lotion, deodorant, toothpaste & toothbrushes.

Register for updates.


“The Pink Poodle Salon” by Cherisse McCoy is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Faces: An Exhibition of Changing Essex Style

Saturday 23 November 2019, 10:00-16:30

Learning Studio, Firstsite Gallery, Colchester, Essex, CO1 1JH

At this exhibition discover the changing faces of Essex style. Take a look at photographs of local people’s experiments with fashion, hair and make-up, and listen to audio recordings collected at our historical beauty salon: Beauty School Drop In. The exhibition will highlight changes to women’s lives, celebrate the diversity of women’s health experiences, and investigate ideas around femininity: demystifying the beauty secret.

Join us to discover changes in self-expression and style across generations and to hear more about the history of local women’s everyday lives. Drop in at any time, but please register!

Glow Up: Zine Workshop

Saturday 23 November 2019, 12:00-14:00

Learning Studio, Firstsite Gallery, Colchester, Essex, CO1 1JH

Join in this creative workshop with Southend-based artist Lu Williams from Grrrl Zine Fair. Get hands-on and investigate health and beauty ideals promoted by social media and magazines. Reflect on diverse experiences and alternative uses of make-up and find out how grooming has been used for empowerment throughout history. ‘Glow Up’ is also an opportunity for you to learn how to make a zine (DIY magazine), take a look at the Grrrl Zine Library and discover zine culture and history.

The workshop will take place in the ‘Faces’ exhibition at Firstsite. Places are limited, please sign up to avoid missing out!

We’re looking forward to seeing you at one or more of these events!

The event series is part of the Being Human festival, the UK’s only national festival of the humanities, taking place 14–23 November. Led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the British Academy. For further information please see beinghumanfestival.org.

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