“Is this too much?” he asked and held another flower up to his face.
“Can it ever be enough?” they replied and passed on the bottle with make up glue.
He thought his face was covered with enough flowers to trick the machines, but why not add more for good measure? What was a man to do as one of the most influential anti-surveillance make up tutorial bloggers? His followers were not only interested in his practical tips — they could read up on them nearly anywhere — but they just liked his style. In a time where nearly everyone distorted, extended, disguised their faces and bodies to become unrecognizable it was hard to stand out. Stand out with clearly identifiable style. Identifiable, recognizable, interesting for humans that is. Leaving the cameras, that databases in the background to guess, stumble and fail.
He had been one of the first to start breaking the rules. To get people together, to organise, to defy the increasing calls for a ban of make up in public as the people in ever increasing numbers hid from the machines. It was unlikely that those who had set up the cameras, advocated for biometric analysis and trained the neural networks were happy with the results they had achieved. Hardly ever before had people come together this consistently, had united so unanimously under a shared goal: defeat the system, defeat the machines, defeat the underlying biases that they embodied. The world had become much more colourful, more united and far more embracing of otherness than it had been in a long while. Make up tutorials, fashion blogs and more had led to a new rise in creativity where people experimented with their identity, their appearance, their hopes and dreams, beyond the necessities of staying private. The machines tried to keep up, but the categories of male and female they had been trained with seemed nearly obsolete in this time where everyone identified over the make up in their face as geometric, flower or mask. No, they would never move beyond categories, but the newer ones were more fluid than ever before, understood as not fixed, but moving targets, spurs of the moment.
Today as a flowery day for both of them as they got ready. Not for the tutorial, not for the followers, but just to be themselves, feel like themselves as they headed out into the streets and face the day.
This story is dedicated to all the artists, designers and bloggers who experiment with dazzle make up. Thank you! I wrote this story as I needed a bit of hope after too many headlines about calls for biometric surveillance recently. I hope to go beyond this soon and write a story in which we overcome the surveillance and its biases but until then let’s come together and beat the system.