CULTURE

Exclusive Interview: Snitchery Discusses Her Blackness, Transparency & Beauty Diversity

Snitchery talks black-fishing accusations and what her Blackness means as a biracial influencer.

Like many beauty enthusiasts, 23-year-old beauty influencer Eleanor Barnes (widely known as Snitchery) found her love for make-up in middle school— "maybe a little too early," she joked.

She continued to foster her interest and skills over the years, though in private. During her suburban North Virginia upbringing, she wasn't focused on building follower counts, not even on MySpace. It wasn't until she attended Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts in 2014 that she innocently discovered social media and its ability to create connections and friendships.

She said, "Okay, if I want to make friends in college...this is the way to do it—I'm going to do the social media route." As a make-up lover and early selfie queen, Eleanor began posting aesthetically-pleasing looks on her Instagram, with perfect lighting and solid background color tones.

"Because I didn't grow up with social media, I didn't know being an influencer was a thing; I didn't know [this] job existed," she said. "I kind of thought people on Instagram who had a lot of followers were just really popular. I didn't realize they were actually making money."

Understandably, this was the thought process of many early users on the Internet. Social media marketing really got started in 2010 when Amazon partnered with Facebook and began using algorithms to suggest products and services to "friends."

During the summer of her sophomore year at Emerson (majoring in Media Studies and Art History), while working in the crafty aisles of Michael's, Eleanor first realized her influencer aspirations and decided to turn a passing hobby into a full-time career. She quickly began making more money than any average 20-year-old college student.

By 2017, she was completely financially independent, creating make-up looks, tutorials, and eventually (as a self-proclaimed "nerd at heart") leaning into cosplay.



The Cosplayer

Dating back to the beginnings of her well-curated Instagram, Eleanor posted make-up looks that were heavily inspired by brightly-colored animated characters.

Eleanor's early talent for dramatic make-up routines naturally collided with her other loves: anime and Disney. She grew interested in cosplay as an outsider, not actually wearing full-blown outfits or going to conventions. However, she took the spark of her small interest and ignited it into a unique make-up style.

Her shift to cosplay was "natural progression," she said. She began stepping into more outfits (including props) in her photos, while still keeping her approach make-up focused. In October 2018, she began doing costume make-up, and her followers' positive reactions were more than what Eleanor expected. Thus, she became an active part of the cosplay subculture of the beauty industry.

She channeled her inner anime enthusiast into creating characters from Studio Ghibli and classic Disney princesses with a modern twist. Her passion and love for anime can easily be seen through her tutorials and detailed looks. When we spoke about what anime means to her, she reflected that many beloved series (HunterxHunter being a fave) returned adults to near forgotten lessons we learned from fables and even religion, like "friendship is important" and "don't underestimate yourself."

"I kind of treat [anime] as modern-day fairy tales, in a way," she said. This love translated to another business venture. Eleanor created her first merchandise collection of hoodies, sweatpants, beanies, and dad hats inspired by Japanese lettering and designs.



The Activist

Eleanor's follower count jumped from thousands to tens of thousands in just a couple of years, helping her solidify fan bases in both the beauty and cosplay communities. But, as the old Hip-Hop adage goes, "mo' money, mo' problems." During her rise, Internet scrutiny rose and an infestation of self-appointed cancel culture police searched for names and profiles to include in popularized buzzwords, and all this eventually caught up with Eleanor.

"Blackfishing" accusations quickly circulated around late 2018, pinning white beauty influencers as perpetrators of using deeper-toned foundations or tanning for longer than necessary, leading them to be regularly mistaken for ethnic women. If this phrase is new to you, look at any Kardashian sisters' early social media photos compared to those of today. More recently, Kim has reawakened the blackfishing conversation with her unveiling of her controversial skincare routine.

Eleanor soon received her own mix of accusations. Given her sudden growth and notoriety and the public's very limited knowledge of her personal and family life, beauty enthusiasts accused the biracial influencer of blackfishing.

"It was weird," she remembered, not understanding the initial accusations. Growing up in a predominantly white suburb of Northern Virginia with her white mother and Black father, Eleanor's experience as "the Black family on the block" was profound.

"I was always the token Black girl," she confessed. Reminiscing about her childhood as a darker-skinned, curly-haired kid, she remembers being asked by a soccer teammate if she was adopted when she was picked up by her white mother. These moments gave context to her experiences of being racially ambiguous in white spaces.

"I was obviously read as Black for 18 years and [realized in college] for the first time I was going to be read as completely white," she said.

In college, Eleanor surrounded herself with Black people and those who looked like her by joining select clubs geared towards Black students and Black women specifically. "For the first time, I felt I was having the culturally Black experience just because I hadn't had the opportunity to have Black friends before," she said. She joined Black and brown organizations on her school campus and attended many protests and rallies surrounding Ferguson and the unjust gunning down of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

"I was approaching these issues as a Black woman because that's how other people saw me and that's how I saw myself," she said.

The accusations of blackfishing eventually prompted the YouTuber to take to her visual platforms to discuss the conversation around her Blackness, and also to open up about her biological background.

www.youtube.com

As a racially ambiguous woman of color, Eleanor makes it apparent that she understands the nuance of identifying as a Black woman, while acknowledging that her Black experience is a story that thousands of other mixed people identify with.

"I never want to take more up space than I feel is appropriate and I never want to talk over people, but there is a lack of biracial stories in the media," she shared. After sharing her background, she received literally thousands of direct messages from biracial fans who also felt displaced from their communities - not being Black enough for the Black spaces and being too Black for white spaces.

As part of an industry that favors racially ambiguity, fuller lips, and deeper tanned skin, Eleanor is not ignorant about her position in beauty and makeup spheres.

"I own up to every way that I move through life so privileged in a lot of ways to be read as racially ambiguous and white, but that doesn't change the fact that I wasn't read that way for 18 years," she said. Opening up these conversations, helping some find comfort, and educating others about the nuanced experience of ambiguous Black bodies was not an intentional move for Snitchery, but it was a necessary dialogue that received overall positive reception.


The IG Baddie

The beauty industry is a $600 billion machine that feeds on physical insecurities. Beauty influencers are glittery cogs in this massive system, and they do their part accordingly without deviating too far from the demands of advertising agencies and corporations. While many influencers are choosing to take the "safe" path, participating in dramatic disputes ("We're talking about makeup and [the industry] is 80% drama and 20% tutorials," Eleanor points out) while being coy with their followers about their beauty additives, Eleanor has attempted to be completely transparent with fans about what she does and does not do to enhance her looks.

"Everybody's face is starting to look the same, which is a little scary," she said. "For the average person who is interested in beauty, [there] probably is something damaging about having all of your influences having a very, very similar face, that they've all built and that they all paint on everyday. I don't know if that's the healthiest thing in the world."

While the "IG Baddie look" looks great on camera and video, at one point, Eleanor noticed that the look that she'd been doing for years was no longer fitting her face. The almost plastic-looking aesthetic of being flawless no longer served her.

So she began diving into styles from other time periods and from other countries. On her YouTube channel, which has over 300,000 subscribers, Eleanor began experimenting with what worked best for her face terms of eye shape, cheekbone contouring, and highlighter.

"I think it's silly to think one particular makeup style can be universally flattering on everybody. And we've gotten to a point in Western make-up where only really one style is being presented to us," she said. Through her personal expansion beyond Western beauty norms, Eleanor was able to find more of what works for her; she's dropped almost 50% of her "IG baddie" makeup routines.

"I'm never going to knock anyone's makeup style, but I just realized wearing that much makeup [daily] was not for me," she said. By teaching herself how to do her makeup intuitively, instead of checking Instagram to see what's trending amongst the beauty girls, Eleanor found new looks and trends that fit her face and daily routine more organically and fluidly.


The Future

Eleanor and her Snitchery brand have come a long way from simply using social media as a way to find friends. At only 23-years-old, she is financially independent, an entrepreneur, a caring and compassionate human being and, above all else, a self-aware adult using her platform to spread awareness of mental healthcare, climate change, the importance of voting, human rights and much more.

While there seems to be a standard, popular look that's generally considered normal in the industry, Snitchery is working her way to changing this for the better, allowing everyone to live their truth. More influencers are moving away from fully-covered, face-tuned selfies and are getting back to loving their natural faces (or at least something close).

Thanks to all this, Eleanor has a major future in the beauty industry. With aspirations of reaching the million follower mark on Instagram (which is only months away); she's also in the early stages of development for her own product line.

"[There are] a lot of big holes in the makeup industry that product is not necessarily filling, and I'm going to be the one to do it!" she said.

We can only hope that popular influencers in all industries, from make-up artists to our favorite gamers, can understand and respect their position like Snitchery does, making transparency a requirement instead of an option.

CULTURE

Nazi-Chic: The Aesthetics of Fascism

Let's take a look at Nazi-inspired fashion.

Villains always have the best outfits.

From Darth Vader's polished black space armor to The Joker's snazzy purple suit, bad guys always seem to show up their protagonists in the fashion department.

Way more handsome than Batman. static.giantbomb.com

But could there possibly be a real world equivalent to the type of over-the-top villain fashion often found in fiction? It would have to be sleek and imposing, austere and dangerous. Probably black.

Maybe it's him. Maybe it's fascist ideology.

Oh, right.

Let's call a spade a spade. From an aesthetic standpoint, the Nazi SS outfit is very well-designed. The long coat tied around the waist with a buckle portrays a slim, sturdy visage. The leather boots and matching cap look harsh and powerful. The emblem placements on the lapel naturally suggest rank and authority. And the red armband lends a splash of color to what would otherwise be a dark monotone. If the Nazi uniform wasn't so closely tied with the atrocities they committed during WWII, it wouldn't seem out of place at Fashion Week. Perhaps not too surprising, considering many of the uniforms were made by Hugo Boss.

Pictured: A real thing Hugo Boss did. i.imgur.com

Of course, today, Nazi uniform aesthetics are inseparable from the human suffering doled out by their wearers. In most circles of civilized society, that's more than enough reason to avoid the garb in any and all fashion choices. But for some, that taboo isn't a hindrance at all–if anything, it's an added benefit.

As a result, we have Nazi chic, a fashion trend centered around the SS uniform and related Nazi imagery.

History of Nazi Chic

For the most part, Nazi chic is not characterized by Nazi sympathy. Rather, Nazi chic tends to be associated with counterculture movements that view the use of its taboo imagery as a form of shock value, and ironically, anti-authoritarianism.

The movement came to prominence in the British punk scene during the mid-1970s, with bands like the Sex Pistols and Siouxsie and the Banshees displaying swastikas on their attire alongside other provocative imagery.

Very rotten, Johnny. i.redd.it

Around this time, a film genre known as Nazisploitation also came to prominence amongst underground movie buffs. A subgenre of exploitation and sexploitation films, Naziploitation movies skewed towards D-grade fare, characterized by graphic sex scenes, violence, and gore. Plots typically surrounded female prisoners in concentration camps, subject to the sexual whims of evil SS officers, who eventually escaped and got their revenge. However, the most famous Nazisploitation film, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, flipped the genders.

The dorm room poster that will ensure you never get laid. images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com

Ilsa was a female SS officer and the victims were men. She spent much of the movie wearing her Nazi uniform in various states, sexually abusing men all the while. As such, Ilsa played into dominatrix fantasies. The movie was a hit on the grindhouse circuit, inspiring multiple sequels and knock-offs and solidifying Nazi aesthetics as a part of the BDSM scene.

Since then, Nazi chic fashion has been employed by various artists, from Madonna to Marilyn Manson to Lady Gaga, and has shown up in all sorts of places from leather clubs to character designs in video games and anime.

Lady Gaga looking SS-uper. nyppagesix.files.wordpress.com

Nazi Chic in Asia

Nazi chic has taken on a life of its own in Asia. And unlike Western Nazi chic, which recognizes Nazism as taboo, Asian Nazi chic seems entirely detached from any underlying ideology.

A large part of this likely has to do with the way that Holocaust education differs across cultures. In the West, we learn about the Holocaust in the context of the Nazis committing horrific crimes against humanity that affected many of our own families. The Holocaust is presented as personal and closer to our current era than we might like to think. It is something we should "never forget." Whereas in Asia, where effects of the Holocaust weren't as prominent, it's simply another aspect of WWII which, in and of itself, was just another large war. In other words, Nazi regalia in Asia might be viewed as simply another historical military outfit, albeit a particularly stylish one.

In Japan, which was much more involved with WWII than any other Asian country, Nazi chic is usually (but not always) reserved for villainous representations.

OF COURSE. i.imgur.com

That being said, J-Pop groups like Keyakizaka46 have publicly worn Nazi chic too, and the phenomena isn't limited to Japan.

In South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand, Nazi imagery has shown up in various elements of youth culture, completely void of any moral context. For instance, in Indonesia, a Hitler-themed fried chicken restaurant opened in 2013. And in Korea, K-Pop groups like BTS and Pritz have been called out for propagating Nazi chic fashion. Usually such incidents are followed by public apologies, but the lack of historical understanding makes everything ring hollow.

Implications

So the question then: is Nazi chic a bad thing?

The answer is not so black and white.

On one hand, seeing Nazi chic on the fashion scene may dredge up painful memories for Holocaust survivors and those whose family histories were tainted. In this light, wearing Nazi-inspired garb, regardless of intent, seems disrespectful and antagonistic. Worse than that, it doesn't even seem like a slight against authority so much as a dig at actual victims of genocide.

But on the other hand, considering the fact that even the youngest people who were alive during WWII are edging 80, "forgetting the Holocaust" is a distinct possibility for younger generations. In that regard, perhaps anything that draws attention to what happened, even if it's simply through the lens of "this outfit should be seen as offensive," might not be entirely bad. This, compounded by the fact that Nazi chic is not commonly associated with actual Nazi or nationalistic sentiments, might be enough to sway some people–not necessarily to wear, like, or even appreciate its aesthetics, but rather to understand its place within counterculture.

Ultimately, one's views on Nazi chic likely come down to their own personal taste and sensibilities. For some, Nazi chic is just a style, an aesthetic preference for something that happens to be mired in historical horror. For others, the shadow of atrocity simply hangs too strong.

MUSIC

This Haunts Me: Songs to Be Murdered To

An ode to songs that would sound great while getting murdered.

On Monday morning, I entered the office, and, as usual, found myself in the midst of a conversation about a strange Internet phenomenon.

Over the past few years, apparently amateur audio engineers have been remixing songs to sound like they're being played through the halls of an empty mall, or refracted into other physical spaces, like bathroom stalls. Someone had Slacked the link to Toto's "Africa" but "playing in an empty shopping centre."

Toto- Africa (playing in an empty shopping centre) www.youtube.com

The sound of "Africa" reverberating through an abandoned mall is as chilling as you'd imagine. It's also profoundly sad and comforting at the same time, either because of the nostalgia it evokes for old times spent wandering through physical spaces that have been replaced mostly by digital ones, or because of the sad hollowness of mall capitalism, or because of a confection of both.

This reminded me of my favorite book I've read recently, Severance by Ling Ma, which is about a post-apocalyptic world where the few survivors of a deadly fever wind up taking shelter in (spoiler alert) an abandoned mall. Like me, the main character in that novel lived in Brooklyn and worked in Times Square—until the fever hit. The song also reminded me of my favorite New Yorker writer, Jia Tolentino, who writes so beautifully about the cursed alienation of late capitalism and social media and who of course has written about the empty-mall version of "Africa."

After I finished listening to "Africa," the next video that YouTube's algorithm had queued began to play. It was "Redbone" by Childish Gambino, except also altered to sound like it was playing in an empty mall. While I listened to it, I scrolled through the comments as I normally do, and I stumbled upon one that resonated strongly. It read, "I don't know if I'm being soothed or murdered right now but all I know is that I'm jamming out in the process." And it's true: Some songs just sound like they'd be perfect soundtracks to murders.

Childish Gambino - Redbone (playing in an empty shopping centre) www.youtube.com

Because the Popdust offices are fundamentally chaotic, soon enough we all quickly began discussing the best songs to listen to while being murdered. This was somehow happening at the same time that my coworker (and noted k-pop aficionado) Dan Kahan and I were debating the merits and ethical implications of a violent revolution in the case that Trump gets re-elected. Though I'm firmly against violence, my coworker got me thinking: Maybe going out with a bang would be the ideal way to depart. After all, aren't billionaires killing millions by hoarding their wealth instead of offering us affordable healthcare?

While thinking about all this, I looked over at the skeleton on my desk, a relic of the Halloween decor my charmingly morbid coworker Meg had brought to the office last month. Popdust's General Manager Brent had placed it there one night, apparently; when I asked him why, he chimed in with one of his weird moments of clarity that happen when he's not speaking in SEO and the virality of Baby Yoda, and said simply, "It's a reminder of your mortality."

"Hey There Delilah" but it's played in an empty Toys R Us at 2:37 pm with moderate traffic outside www.youtube.com

Maybe it was the combination of that skeleton's presence, thinking about violent revolution, reading Jia Tolentino and Severance, and that Youtube comment. Maybe it was the climate crisis activism I'd spent the weekend researching but not taking part in, or the fact that I recently discovered the phenomenon of hauntology, or the fact that I actually love my life maybe more than I ever have before right now; but as I listened to the rest of the tune, I couldn't stop thinking: This song would be the ideal song to be murdered to. Preferably in a dark mall sometime after midnight. Preferably by the government, during some kind of heist or failed act of ecoterrorism, but any average serial killer would do. Something about the song made it feel like it would be the ideal tune to accompany my not-so-gentle departure into that good night.

It may be relevant to mention here that the aforementioned Jia Tolentino has also written about the strange trend that is people on the Internet asking famous people to kill them, blaming it on an almost alchemical convergence of desire, loneliness, and guilt that's unique to the neoliberal age. "On the beach, flooded with joy, I felt the tug of that familiar undertow. "F*cking kill me," I thought, suddenly desiring a sensation strong enough to silence itself," she writes, "which is, I suppose, one way of defining love."

wii theme but its playing in an empty shopping mall www.youtube.com


mii channel but all the pauses are uncomfortably long www.youtube.com

Lest anyone grow too concerned about all this rumination on death and being murdered, many of the world's wisest philosophers believe there are innumerable benefits to contemplating death and that thinking about the end can greatly enhance one's brief time on Earth. "Virtually every great thinker. . . has thought deeply and written about death; and many have concluded that death is inextricably a part of life, and that lifelong consideration of death enriches rather than impoverishes life," writes Irvin Yalom.

Therefore, though it could indicate that we're all just typical writers, perhaps the views we have towards death in this office are actually quite healthy, or at least understandable in light of how the world is. Maybe American society is changing in that respect too; depression memes are the rage and murder podcasts are in vogue. Are all these trends simply a reflection of the truth that our lives are surrounded and shaped by death on every side? Do they embody the implicit knowledge that our planet is dying, or the fact that a lot of our old ways of life will need to die so we can survive? Or is this literal foreshadowing that I'm going to get murdered tonight?

In case that happens, I'll definitely spend the night listening to the collaborative Spotify playlist we made of the best songs to be murdered to (and you, too, can listen to it via the link below). My editor, notorious film-kid critic and most socially adept member of the entire Popdust team Brooke posted a call on Instagram for recommendations, and so this erratic list is thanks in part to the creativity of her friends. Also, if I actually die, please hack into my computer and posthumously release all the novels and music I've been hoarding away until "the right time"; and if you're reading this and it's too late, know that I love you, and (this is the hill I will die on) Jeffrey Epstein didn't kill himself.

Songs to Be Murdered To: A Popdust Special

Songs to Be Murdered To open.spotify.com

  1. Africa (playing in an empty shopping centre) — Toto
  2. Redbone (playing in an empty shopping centre) — Childish Gambino
  3. The Georgia Boy Choir — Silent Night
  4. Once Upon A Dream — Lana Del Rey
  5. Blue Velvet — Bobby Vinton
  6. O Superman — Laurie Anderson
  7. Placebo – Running Up That Hill
  8. The Show Must Go On — Pink Floyd
  9. Is That All There Is? — Peggy Lee
  10. Mr. Sandman — The Chordettes
  11. Je m'amuse — Caravan Palace
  12. Hide and Seek — Imogen Heap
  13. House of the Rising Sun — The Animals
  14. Good Vibrations — The Beach Boys
  15. Carnival of the Animals, XIII. Le Cygne — Clara Rockmore
  16. You Are My Sunshine — The Civil Wars
  17. War it Like A Crown — Rebecca Karijord
  18. Riverside — Agnes Obel
  19. Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) — Arcade Fire
  20. Road to Nowhere — Talking Heads
  21. The Less I Know The Better — Tame Impala
  22. Lovebug – The Jonas Brothers
  23. The Christmas Song — Nat King Cole
  24. Crazy B*tch — Buckcherry
  25. Wide Open Spaces — Dixie Chicks
  26. Drip, Drip, Drip — Chumbawawas
  27. Between the Bars — Elliott Smith
  28. Monster Mash — Bobby "Boris" Pickett, The Crypt-Kickers
  29. Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites — Skrillex
  30. Into The Ocean — Blue October
  31. A Case of You — Joni Mitchell
  32. Take It Easy — Eagles (but just the 4-part harmony)
  33. Mombasa — Hans Zimmer
  34. Graduation — Vitamin C
  35. Hot Chocolate — Tom Hanks
  36. Closing Time — Semisonic