In the past few months, sophomore media studies student Eleanor Barnes has seen her Instagram account (@snitchery) flourish, with her number of followers jumping from 15 thousand in June to over 178 thousand as of October 1, thanks to Barnes’ artistic makeup and wig combinations. However, while many may write off Barnes as just another Instagram makeup star, she’s proven to be not only a successful business woman (Instagram is a full-time job to her), but also an advocate for issues beyond the makeup industry through her Youtube and Twitter accounts. Barnes has truly proven that beauty is more than skin deep.
Q: When did you start wearing makeup, and when did you start integrating wigs into your looks?
E: I’ve been wearing makeup since middle school, twelve maybe? I started watching YouTube tutorials and that’s kind of how I got into it; I just taught myself. As far as doing crazy, outlandish makeup, I started maybe at the beginning of [this past] summer. I started doing some really unorthodox looks and it kind of caught on, and that’s how my Instagram spiraled I guess. But wigs was last October, on Halloween. I had bleached [my hair], I damaged it so badly and I had seen a lot of girls wearing wigs. I was too nervous to do it at first, and I thought Halloween would be a good time to ease into it. I wore a wig that day and I loved it, and I’ve worn them basically everyday since.
Q: How do you think your makeup has evolved as you’ve grown as an individual?
E: I think [makeup] has provided a really good creative outlet. I’ve always been into art and sketching, and when I got into makeup it provided a really good way for me to express that. I think I lost some of my fine arts skills. Especially this past year, it’s definitely grown in parallel to my confidence. It takes a special person, with a certain something to walk out of the house with crazy eyelashes and blue lipstick.
Q: Do you go on YouTube to find tutorials and inspiration for looks?
E: This summer, I was really into watching makeup tutorials. Up until, like, May I really did the same makeup every single day. My Instagram really wasn’t a makeup account. I did one crazy makeup look just for fun one day when I was home over the summer and it just kind of snowballed, so I started doing them more and more. I think I started the summer with 17 thousand followers, and then in four or five months I got up to 150 thousand. And that was all because of the makeup. I haven’t wrapped my head around it.
Q: One of my favorite videos of yours is the Makeup Makes Me Ugly video. Could you talk more about your message behind the video and what kind of response you’ve gotten?
E: That video was controversial, and I didn’t think it would be. I think there’s this preconception that girls wear makeup because they don’t like how they look without makeup, and not because it’s considered an art form or something fun to do, and I was just getting kind of sick of that. I posted a few pictures on Instagram where I’m not wearing makeup because that’s how I spend 80% of my life, and I’ll always get comments talking about how I look better without makeup or how I shouldn’t wear makeup. I know that’s just because guys think you’re lying to them, so I decided to make a video not really thinking anyone would care about it, but I got so many comments. I’ve gotten tons of comments from people saying I’m a slut, I’m a hoe, because I wear fake eyelashes.
Q: Do you think people you don’t know look at your makeup and think, “Oh, she’s probably not a very deep person”?
E: For sure. I definitely think there are some misconceptions. That’s the only downside of my Instagram. Because my Instagram is all selfies, people think I’m completely narcissistic. I’m in the Honors Program here, and that always surprises people because they don’t expect it.
Q: Do you feel like you have to prove yourself to people?
E: I’d like to say no, but I think a little part of me gets ticked off. I’d like to be one of those people who doesn’t care what people think, or care about the preconceptions people have about me. It’s still kind of rattling for people to have preconceived notions of me before they meet me. A lot of my instagram captions are about boys, so I get how people think I’m a superficial airhead.
Q: Do you think you would ever move your Instagram account in a different direction?
I really don’t know, because even lately my Instagram account hasn’t been makeup focused. I don’t know what direction I want to take it in, because I want it to have some kind of purpose. I’m not sure. I’ve posted about Black Lives Matter a couple times, but I don’t really know what direction I want to take it in. I’m not really sure what my Internet purpose is, so I’m trying to figure it out. And that goes hand in hand with brands, you still have to be marketable, and figure out what your morals are, and balance those with your career. For me, morals will win out every time.
Text by Noel Gasca
Photography by Becca Chairin