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Writer Of The Week: Jennifer Culp

‘Writing is telepathy.’

I n the world of intersectional feminism and social justice, beauty writing must be handled with an extraordinary amount of nuance. On the one hand, people have every right to adorn themselves with whatever they damn well please, be it rouge, neon-blue wigs, spandex pants, or a sequined romper; at its best, “beauty” implies glorious empowerment and fierce identity expression.

On the other hand, the beauty industry is often a heteronormative, whitewashing, fat-shaming, objectifying mess that makes people, on the whole, feel miserable and less than.

Very few people can navigate both these realities at once. Of those who can, few do it better than Jennifer Culp.

Jenn’s “Make Your Face” column, featured biweekly here at The Establishment, is a disarmingly charming, visually stunning reminder that beauty should be an external expression of one’s weird, wonderful, joyous personhood. Moreover, Jenn is careful to remind us that justice and beauty need not be mutually exclusive; sometimes, sparkle is a tool of resistance, and liptstick a powerful way to say “fuck you” to the patriarchy.

Jenn’s catalogue of fabulously freaky columns is long and consistently superb, but here are a few particular favorites:

We can think of just one word to describe Jenn’s work: beautiful.

Read below for Jenn’s thoughts on weird selfies, cheddar cheese, and Nine Inch Nails.

You can generally find me writing in an old recliner on a laptop and/or phone while a dog glares at me. (I’m not supposed to pay so much attention to something other than her, see.)

The writers that have most influenced my life are Jane Marie, Lindy West, Heather Havrilesky, Anne Helen Petersen, and Elaine “Lainey” Lui.

The TV character I most identify with is Lwaxana Troi.

I think “paying writers in exposure” is totally unsustainable from the writer POV. If money is being made, writers need to get paid.

My most listened to song of all time is “Last” by Nine Inch Nails.

The coolest thing I’ve bought from money made writing is a plane ticket to visit friends in Miami!

My 18-year-old self would feel utterly bewildered about where I am today.

I like writing for The Establishment for so many reasons! I really enjoy communicating with expressions and images, and Make Your Face has given me an opportunity to combine both with words to create this irreverent but also sometimes bone-serious sort of ongoing journal about beauty and society as experienced by me. The ‘Stab allows me huge leeway to play with format, consistently trusts me with out-there ideas, and offers such careful and thoughtful editing! And I’m honored by the company I keep as a byline on the site; I learn so much from other contributors’ work.

If I could share one of my stories by yelling it into a megaphone in the middle of Times Square, it would probably be How to Master the Art of Weird Selfies. Servicey!

How To Master The Art Of Weird Selfies

If I could only have one type of food for the rest of my life it would be extra sharp cheddar cheese.

If I could give the amazing people who sponsor stories anything in the world to express my gratitude, it would be more stories! More complicated stories!! Weirder stories!!!

The story I’m working on now is about astrology and the comfort of choosing to believe in something you don’t *actually* believe in because you enjoy the way it orders the world.

The story I want to write next is a fun freaky ghost story. I’m ready for Halloween!

Writing means this to me: Writing is telepathy. You look at my words and instantly hear my voice in your head. How cool is that??

If I could summarize writing in a series of three GIFs, it would be: