These Half-Drag Portraits Reveal the Transformative Power of Makeup
Last Spring, beauty vlogger NikkieTutorials went viral when she started #PowerofMakeup. By tagging selfies of half-bare, half-made-up faces, artists showcased their talents while shutting down haters. While the results were nothing short of mesmerizing, it turns out photographer Leland Bobbé actually utilized this concept back in 2012 for his showstopping portrait series Half-Drag.
Bobbé had previously worked on portraits of neo-burlesque performers for an exhibit at New York City's Museum of Sex. When one of his male subjects posted an image of himself dressed as half male, half female on Facebook, Bobbé asked him to come in for a studio portrait. After repeating this concept with a drag queen, he realized how powerful the imagery would be as a project and used social media to find and reach out to others.
"My intention was to capture both the male and the alter ego female side of these subjects in one image," Bobbé told POPSUGAR. By exploring the intersection of masculine and feminine beauty and breaking down the barriers between them, Bobbé's work causes the viewer to question their heteronormative ideas of gender.
Don't be surprised if you find yourself covering half of your screen with one hand, then admiring the complete image. The dichotomy between the men's stubbled chins and their painted-on brows is truly striking. You may even recognize a few faces! Fans who closely follow RuPaul's Drag Race will recognize a handful of contestants, including Miss Fame and Vivienne Pinay.
While Bobbé was celebrated internationally for Half-Drag, this recognition is not what he's found most gratifying about his work. "I received emails from people who were struggling with their personal sexual identity," he shared. "They told me the photos helped them very much on a personal level."
Read on to see the mesmerizing series! If you're interested, you can buy posters of the images here.