Beth Ditto, Musician


“Drawing on the Madonna mole with my mom’s mascara was my introduction to beauty—trying to make it look really perfect and not too big. I fucking love makeup; it’s not even a joke. When I get in a room with Andrew [Gallimore], my makeup artist, watch out. I grew up around big-haired, smoking women—that was the South—but my mother wasn’t one of them. She always had really simple hair, really natural. She never wore makeup—I think that’s where I get it. We don’t really wear foundation on our face. We’ve both been really lucky with our skin. I just use Yon-Ka toner; it’s the best thing you’ll ever use in your life. But I love a lot of eye makeup, just a lot of gaudy shit on my eyes. Eyeliner, I think, is my forte: black, cat-eye, under-the-eye. For everyday I’ll do Diorshow mascara, and I always line my eyebrows with MAC Stud pencil.

I really enjoyed the whole Southern beauty thing—I probably had big bangs for way too long because I loved doing it so much, huge bangs. Sometimes I would put Sun-In in. And then the Kool-Aid thing came along. I tell you what—I was really good at doing Kool-Aid in my hair, ‘cause other kids were actually trying to pour it in their hair when it was watered down, but I would mix it with Noxzema so it was really concentrated, and then put it on. I would Sun-In my hair first, and then I would put two packets of red Kool-Aid into a little thing of Noxzema and put that on my hair and let it dry. I got mildly made fun of, but not as much as my bandmates did. [Our guitarist] Nathan [Howdeshell] would wear three-piece suits in the middle of August in Arkansas. Like, it would be 110 degrees, and—no shit—he’d be wearing a full-on polyester suit with dog chains around his neck and really thick Buddy Holly glasses. He stuck out like a sore thumb. My bandmates would do races to out-gross each other, to be the punkest one. Jocks would spit food at them, and then they would pick the food up off the ground and eat it.

In high school, I hardly ever wore makeup, ever. I had black hair—or, I’d have orange roots and black hair, ‘cause it was so hard to bleach your hair out—and just jeans and a T-shirt. I wore the same hoodie everyday my senior year—every single day. I was a self-identified feminist, but I didn’t understand the varying degrees of you could be girly and love makeup but still be a ‘feminist.’ I was always really good at eyeliner and loved makeup, even if I didn’t wear it myself. Popular girls would be like, ‘Could you come over and do my hair for prom?’ And then at school we didn’t talk at all. [Laughs] Even my sister would say, ‘Teach me how to do that French Twist thing!’ Remember in the nineties, the pre-Friends era, the French Twist with the little tendril thing? I brought that to Gibsonia [Arkansas]. I was that girl who’d be like, ‘Can I please do your hair?’

And then I learned that I was a femme lesbian, and I thought, ‘Oh, actually…’ It’s been more empowering for me to be this way, because back then, I was really denying myself the things that I loved. I was learning about different genders, too. It’s not just binary, not just ‘boy’ or ‘girl.’ I hope I’m always changing; I hope I’m always getting inspired and learning, and trying different things out, giving things a chance.

For my MAC collection, I basically created all the things I’ve wanted over the years. When I had orange hair, all I wanted was a really nice orange lip pencil, so I made [the color] Entertain Me. This is my favorite: Shade & Smoke shadow liner, which has a different color on each end. Naming everything was the funnest part, to be honest. Lots of Beth puns—Beth and death, Beth and breath—so there was a lot of that, but it’s just like writing words to songs. I’m touring now, and I think the people in London look amazing all the time. You can tell you’re in a store in London: things are just a little brighter, a little crazier. It’s just different style, so much different than America, or Germany, or France—even Japan. And I love mod. I love bouffants, bobs—I don’t think you can ever go wrong ever with a bob. My friend Lyndell [Mansfield] taught me to never do retro to a T; you should always do it in your own way. Remember before the word retro? No one said that when I was a kid. My dream look is flats, pedal pushers, a nice top, and a black bob—I think that is the best thing in the world, for me.

Being a big person—being a fat girl in this world—is really awesome. It feels good to be myself. I think it’s a special position to be in, and it’s given me a lot of perspective into people’s opinions and how they interpret things. I know when something is my problem or someone else’s. It’s this whole element of therapy that you get for free where you’re like, ‘Is this a social problem or is this my problem? Is this a social epidemic or is this my epidemic?’ You learn a lot about yourself. Words don’t bother me; intentions do. Now there’s this weird thing with Karl Lagerfeld, which I literally just learned about an hour ago—people are like, ‘So you called him old and skinny?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, what is he? Young and fat? He’s not.’ [Laughs] I have no desire to stay super-thin, super-perfect. And when I grow up, I want to look like Patti Smith, that’s how I feel exactly. Mustache and everything, that sounds great.”

Beth Ditto photographed by Emily Weiss pre-performance at MADE, Berlin on June 5th 2012. Ditto's makeup collection is available online and in-store now. Travel and accommodations provided by MAC.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Phil

    How do you do it Emily to just keep on getting this top news with the latest people?
    She does look a lot less pale than in the promo pictures.
    Kudos for being a full size role model to Beth!

  • Théa Unknown

    She's stunning!

    Théa Unknown

  • erin

    omg sun-in and kool-aid - we must be of the same generation! x

  • Emily

    I love you Beth. You are an inspiration for women of any size, so comfortable in your skin. I have had the pleasure of seeing you perform, it was amazing.

  • zenobia

    I applaud her confidence and for calling Karl Lagerfield out. More than the punk aesthete and the funky eye-makeup, this is what qualifies as balls in my book. Rock awn gurl.

  • Kristinacooke_77

    Thanks for doing a post on Beth. She's such an inspiration.

  • Sarahdee

    She has such a vibrant personality it just shines through! I love her style and her ideas about fashion! Awesome post!


  • Natalie

    more ITG posts like this, please. a breath of fresh air & a reminder that beauty is an inside job first & foremost.

    • EmilyH.

      I hope I haven't misinterpreted your point about beauty being "an inside job," but: Beth's beauty is very much out there, on the outside of her (fat and lovely) body; she's very much about appearances in a great way. She clearly loves adornment and physical beautification. What you might mean to say is "fat women can be beautiful on the outside, too."

      • murt

        Thank you for saying that!! Great reply.

  • Andrea

    she is awesome!

  • Ana

    amazing, amazing, amazing.

  • pim

    omg, i looooovveee beth!!!!!!

  • danielle

    How stoked was I to check Into the Gloss and see Beth's face staring back at me!! Been listening to her music for a long time and have always loved her style, personality, and make up!!! Great post, thank you.

  • guest

    Thank you for this great feature on Beth! How refreshing!

  • Elisze

    Emily If it is even possible ITG just keeps getting better and better.

  • Eyeshadow Government

    Wonderful interview. I enjoyed reading about how the popular girls would ask her to do their hair for prom and then ignore her (or perhaps vice versa) in school. I remember what that was like.... It is always cool to see other feminists who love makeup. Self-expression is feminist, and I think it just depends how you approach the products and see yourself as a woman. A lot of makeup is "corrective," and you have to resist that. To me, her collaboration with MAC is all about power and hotness.


  • charlie ○

    Yes! Finally someone who is experimental and crazy with makeup! As much as I love the minimalist Gallic girls, it's nice to see someone a bit OTT.

  • EL

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! Beth Ditto is my faaaaavorite and I'm SO happy to see her talking about femme identity, genderqueerness, and make up! This is such a great feature.

  • James

    Emily, you's the real woman who is doing her sweet fucking make-up...because she isn't brushing around being low maintenance....unlike other women on you blog...she ain't pretty but boy she is a very interesting love love her

  • Maddi3

    I think this is my fav post so far, which is saying something. This is so m/ !!! <3

  • Becca @ The Beauty Sample

    Love her and love her devil-may-care attitude. She's gorgeous and doesn't need to explain herself to anybody. Makeup is supposed to be fun, and I love that her collection reflects that

  • Filekale

    She may not be a size zero, but she still manages to to look amazing! i truly admire her, and her make up here is spectacular!

  • Fashioncherry

    I truly admire Beth. Her confidence and strength is definitely something a lot of girls can look up to - no matter what size you are. She's looking lovely in those photos.

  • Ivana

    Such an inspiration! Emily, do you know where she got that pink + floral make up brush in the last picture? So gorgeous :)

  • Katie

    Loved this post! Major props go out to Beth Ditto for being the kind of kick ass, femme, body loving person that people need to be reading about, and to ITG for featuring her.


  • Devi D

    These pictures are amazing.

  • marisa

    I really love that her make-up is used for expression and not correction. Even though her make-up is quite loud, I think this is more low-maintenance than most people who call themselves low-maintenance. She's not hiding anything!

    • Ally

      "for expression and not correction" - very well said.

  • Emma

    she's amazing. she truly is.

    inspirational words!! <3 thanks for posting!

  • sarah

    a beautiful REAL person. a human and not a wannabe something else. and thank god for MAC. and really the tragedy that is Karl Lagerfeld, living off the legacy of others, can't stand him. you keep doing your own thing beth ditto, and other will do ditto.

  • Hannahlouisesanders

    Beth is a stone fox! Has anyone tried the toner that she mentioned? I love the Bio-derma but I am intrigued by the
    Yon-Ka toner.

  • murt

    I absolutely loved this - by far the best article on this site!!! Thanks for interviewing her! And I love her makeup!

  • Lexi

    This goes down as one of my fave interviews/peeks! She manages to be approachable, artistic and a total badass all at once.

    p.s.-- and you can bet your bippy I'm going to check out that toner!

  • Lex

    This was such a good read! She's such an interesting personality! Please do more people like this!

  • welovefur


  • candide

    best into the gloss ever

  • CamMi Pham

    That make up is amazing

  • Kennon


  • Celebrities

    some beautiful plus size women looks awesome in this type of style.

  • Josephine

    She's so gorgeous and bold, and I love her wholehearted approach to beauty as free expression. It makes her just the right person to do a fun collaboration with a cosmetics company (the colors look lovely, by the way, especially the purple mascaras). I've always like her politics and music. Her personal style is quite different from mine, but I've found I'm getting more adventurous, looks-wise, as I get older, and have actually tried some of the things she does. This is one of my favorite ITG posts to date.

    (Also, WORD on the Yon-Ka toner. I bring the little spray one whenever I have to plain-or-train it. It smells and feels amazing.)

  • lena

    I have no idea who this woman is. When I saw her picture, I thought "wow, that looks crazy". After reading the interview, I loved her, and somehow her look fits her just fine. It's just amazing how personality shines through and changes things.

  • Incredible-fashion

    That looks like a wonderful time! I love the eyes!

  • ME

    Emily! What lipstick were you wearing to the launch party in Berlin? It looks amazing!! (I saw a picture on Purple Diary) x

  • Mercedes

    I've been a fan of Beth's music for awhile now, but reading this took my respect for her to a new level. I'm an avid follower of this blog but have never commented, until now. Her voice is amazingly authentic, and she also totally brought me back to my mid-'90s pre-teen days - we must be about the same age! Anyway, thank you Beth. You inspired me today!

  • Michelle Lee
  • Guest

    I'm so happy to see Beth on here! I fell in love with her, her music, and her make-up within 5 seconds of watching the music video for "Heavy Cross." She's such an inspiration. I think we could use more people with her outlook on life in this world.

  • http://cinnamonandzoeykisses.blogspot/ yessie

    Love Beth! She's awesome and seems like a genuine, no BS kinda gal. I didn't pick up any of her MAC collection (Too many collections and they sell out so fast!)