MAI HUA is a French artist based in Paris. She has been blogging for 5 years, sharing her very personal vision of beauty: seeking it in people around her (friends, kids, family, neighbors, professional connections) by portraying them through a series of both naturalistic and intimate videos, but also by questioning her own truth through personal issues such as motherhood, womanity, creativity, joy. Her profound love and passion for life makes it possible to spread very strong emotions with the community who follows her. Her work is an invitation for each person to discover one’s own beauty.
To discover Mai’s work, visit her blog at maihua.fr.
I was told my great-great-grand mother was a beauty from Hanoi. She was so beautiful that she was promised to the Emperor. “Unfortunately,” she had a flaw on her ear, and was not chosen. She then got married, started a family with kids. But she was still so, so beautiful — despite this awful ear — that a French man (maybe from the military) wanted her and bought her. My great-grandmother was born this way.
Then my grandmother, then my mum, all so beautiful beyond words. And fortunately enough, I was a beautiful girl. I mean, objectively, people kept saying that, to me and my family.
I grew up. And for 10 years, I worked in the cosmetic industry, which some would call the beauty industry. And believe me, I am super keen on how to make you “objectively” look great.
Objectively everything was fine, so fine, but an inner voice told me something else. I quit my job, began to create colors, and then launched a beauty blog.
I was not interested in the products, but in the people.
The main idea was to film people in their beauty ritual. I was passionate about it, and filmed dozens and dozens of people in this very intimate act, in front of their mirror, looking at themselves. Making themselves beautiful.
Indeed, this series of videos was an unconscious act of questioning my relationship to my own beauty. How do people make themselves up? No, the real question was what do I learn about myself, while watching others makes themselves up.
I was a very Parisian type of beauty: making myself up in a chic, nonchalant way nobody could really notice, wearing long hair I did not dare cutting. But while filming women and men dyeing their hair, cutting it, putting flowers on their heads, transforming themselves in one way or another, I discovered beauty was a much larger territory where you could actually do…whatever you want.
I stopped filming people in only this perspective because I had found the answer to my unconscious questions, and answer that is so simple and so powerful at the same time: we all have the power to make ourselves beautiful.
I discovered that makeup is like dance — it is just fun. It is creative. But the beauty, the real beauty, is in having fun and being creative with your formal self. People should have fun while making themselves up, not feel lousy when they don’t.
So I started to play, switching from one identity to another, from one color to another. Not claiming anything, not waiting for validation from others, either — even from an emperor. My beauty was not objective anymore; I became subjectively beautiful.
My blog became an exploration of beauty, within myself and within others. I kept filming people all around me. Not in front of a mirror anymore, but in doing what they do, what they like. And unconsciously, this idea of beauty came back. We laugh and cry together, we don’t try to, we just do. I film people who, without noticing it, show me their beauty. And my wish is to share this energy and grace with them and with others. I try to understand something about themselves, this part of their truth they sometimes don’t even know. I find them so, so beautiful. This is just my way to tell them.
After having filmed so many people, I always think of Gertrude Stein’s poem : Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose. And my belief now is that beauty… is.
So if beauty is, beauty is in me, and beauty is in you.
Life can be awful, but beauty is always here. In me, in you. Shining like the sun behind the clouds.
Just see it.
Many people say beauty needs us to elevate, but maybe we should just do the opposite, ‘down-evate,’ to see it in any occasion, around us. What you see is always a mirror of your soul, so if beauty is in you, you can see it anywhere. That is how we could “create” beauty. Just by seeing it.
My father always told me not to confuse the moon and the finger that points at it. So there is no way beauty could be described, defined (despite the classical era that waited for beauty to provoke a “pleasant” feeling), even performed. Beauty is, effortless and miraculous like a rose blooming, realizing its own essence. As soon as you have to measure it, fit it to something that is not “you” (which is, I know, a lifetime journey) then it is aesthetics, not beauty.
Since I discovered that beauty is, I understood that the search of beauty is vain. I do not have to treasure it, grab it, get attached to it, because beauty is. And it will always be. Beauty is linked to a life principal. Still, I try to connect myself to it as much as I can, this energy and state of mind that enables me to be in the present, to look around me, anywhere, anytime, to “meet” beauty again and again. It nourishes my heart and soul. And my wish would be for people who read me to see how beautiful they are.
Investing in and living my own beauty helps me relate to others. I’m joy, I’m freedom, I’m compassion. I am not only me, I am a flower, I am the other, I am the universe.
Published: June 23rd, 2016