As a child actor, Rowan Blanchard has spent years being told how to dress, act, and look by adults. But now, she is taking control of her physical appearance and, in doing so, exploring how she can control not only her own self-image, but also the way other people perceive her. In a new interview with InStyle, Blanchard explains how experimenting with makeup in particular has taught her more about femininity, feminism, and fighting the patriarchy.
"I'm starting to realize the...power you have with your physicality," she said. "Attention is still a new thing. It's been fun to play with other people's gazes and explore who's looking at you: How do I look, and how is that being perceived?" Blanchard, who said she used to model her look after "strange" people like Sailor Moon and Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie, described her recent shift toward a style that is classically perceived as feminine. "I wasn't interested in being quote unquote beautiful, maybe because I was told that trying to be that sacrificed your feminism. I was more interested in looking weird for myself," she said. "But now I'm also actually setting out to look like a pretty girl."
That shift has included dabbling on bold red lipstick, dramatic false lashes, and a fully beat face. "I told my makeup artist, 'I want the highlight [snaps], I want the contour [snaps]. I [snap] want [snap] to go [snap] there [snap],'" she said, also noting her newfound love of long acrylic nails. "I really enjoy them, but it takes a f*cking while," she said. "I sit there for two hours, and I'm so bored. It's work!" Rowan said that she first witnessed this work in action when she was younger, while watching her mom and aunts get ready. "It was so fascinating to me. And so glamorous, watching them look at themselves in the mirror, wearing push-up bras and all these other things," she said. "I was like, 'Whoa! The world of femininity is so crazy!'"
But rather than seeing stepping into this "world" as a mode of conforming to societal ideals, Blanchard is doing so as a way to push back on expectations. "The way I view it is that women have to use whatever we were given," she said. "So if we're given these frameworks of things that are inherently feminine, whether that's makeup or the femme fatale or even sadness — all these tropes associated with being a girl — I want to explore the undoing of patriarchal things in that same way."