In honor of the release of her riveting, coming-of-age memoir, Fairest, we chatted with writer Meredith Talusan, co-founder of Conde Nast's them. and award-winning journalist about her book and her life.
The book details her life as a trans albino, who emigrated to the United States as a child. Talusan takes the reader on a journey through a dynamic, complex, and vivid recount of life, beginning with her grandmother in the Philippines, to the Ivy League of America, and then into the fast-paced NYC lifestyle she led as a journalist, exploring her identity and finding career success.
Finding beauty in the eyes of the beholder—when you’re your own beholder—can prove challenging for anyone, especially in a world that is made up of double standards, false binaries and beauty “rules”. As former Founding Executive Editor of Them. magazine and freelance writer, Talusan has written countless pieces on beauty, representation and identity, and backs up her work with genuine experience and passion. As Talusan began sculpting her memories into pages, she wanted readers to understand that beauty and acceptance comes from within, and takes time and effort.
“I spent a lot of time thinking,how would people see me, how would this makeup make me more beautiful for other people?” Talusan says to me over a phone call, days before the book is released. While many of us may not be thinking this exact same thought, as we apply mascara or foundation in the bathroom mirror, this belief is the underlying foundation of the beauty industry, and the motivation for many of its consumers today.
Talusan spends the book exploring the boxes of beauty and gender and how she fits into them, through her relationship with cosmetics and clothing.
“The point that has been the most important was when I realized that I was no longer interested in wearing makeup for other people—I was just interested in wearing makeup for myself. I didn't care whether other people found me attractive in the makeup I was wearing. I was just interested in having fun with putting on cosmetics on my face, and experimenting with color, with decoration. It became much more of an expression of joy and of creativity for me."
This is why Talusan had reached out to We Are Fluide to discuss the release of a product that aligned with her book and her own philosophy of beauty. Together, the Fairest Wand was created: Our Crystal Cluster Universal Liner packaged with a limited edition card featuring a special message from Meredith. "They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but the fairest beauty comes from the beholder inside of us."
When I asked her more about this, she replied: “Fairest is a book that is so much about being concerned about how others perceive you, and I wanted to give people a sense of what it would be—a world in which we don't have to think that way.”
The Fairest Wand’s illuminated, intense sparkle is a tool that can break into that world. “The fact that it’s this translucent material, that it comes in the form of a wand, it made me feel like you’re casting a spell on yourself. That you don't need some fairy godmother to make you beautiful. You can create that beauty for yourself and be beautiful for yourself,” says Talusan.
For her, or anyone, a beauty epiphany doesn't happen overnight—only after years of thought and exploration. I admired how this thinking could apply to anyone who feels their relationship with beauty is complicated.
"Even though I’m politically aware, it was important for me to tell this story on my terms, and not have to think about what this would mean for the community" states Talusan, in speaking on her experience being trans and an active voice in the LGBTQ+ community. Now her story speaks in its own dimension, refracting light and thought into others' beauty and life experiences.
Talusan speaks with excitement as she describes where the world of media may take perceptions of beauty in the next few years—a world that looks like a diverse, explosive expression of beauty that challenges norms and explores identity in new ways. She mentions @alokvmenon, @deetrannybear and @jacobtobia as media-makers who push the bounds of conformity with a strong sense of self-worth. She adds punctually, "Who wants to live in a world where everyone's perception of beauty is the same? It's just an incredibly boring, colorless, lifeless world."
I can feel the resounding echo of yes from the Fluide Fam and beyond. Beauty is everywhere, in everybody, and exists a thousand different ways.
In closing, Talusan says, "What I hope that people get out of Fairest is that, just because however you're perceived by other people, you don't need to let that perception define you. You can always express how you feel beautiful to yourself, even if other people disagree with it."