My Beauty Icon: Cyndi Lauper


As a young boy, Edan Haddock found his beauty icon in a DIY package of thrift store layers, blue lipstick and lurid coloured hair.

I grew up in suburban Sydney. Nothing out of the ordinary – a working class family and neighbourhood to match. But in what should have been an idyllic environment for a boy my age, I felt lost and incapable of expressing myself through my appearance in the way I wanted. There weren’t really any famous male role models for me to look up to, or take inspiration from. Jason Donovan? Michael Jackson? Boy George? I just didn’t feel connected to them. I didn’t want to be a blond boy next door, a one-glove-wearing recluse, and certainly not a drag queen. I was a ball of creativity, and I was frustrated. As my awkward teenage years approached I found relief in the most unlikely form: Cyndi Lauper.


Although it was unusual for a teenage boy to look at a female for style inspiration, It really felt right to me. Cyndi wasn’t the most conventionally beautiful person, and I certainly didn’t think of myself as anything attractive. But it wasn’t about that. It was about expression, and not in a contrived, Lady Gaga way. Cyndi was cool – women were mimicking her style and men thought she was sexy in a way that was so unique to the time. Cyndi had a round face, in a pop world of striking bodies and high cheekbones, like Pat Benatar and Debbie Harry. Cyndi didn’t show flesh – in fact, she wore layers and layers of eccentric style. It was accessible to me. I would see pictures of her with a few pegs in her hair, then go to the clothes line and do the same. Her hair was dyed in lurid multicolour, and we had food colouring in the pantry. She painted her clothes and accessories, there was some emulsion in the garage. Her style evoked the feeling of being a child and playing around with your Mother’s make-up, or having dress-ups with your friends.


And anyone could take inspiration from Cyndi’s attitude without trying to look exactly like her. I think this was the key difference between her and the likes of Boy George, Prince or Grace Jones. I related to her influences too – mainly from the art world. She’d take images by Man Ray and Van Gogh and incorporate them into her style. I too loved art and as an older teenager would take this same inspiration and paint my clothes to match my latest discovery from the art world.


There’s a quote from Cyndi where she describes her style. She talks about a time as a teenager when she met a woman in a drug store with platinum blonde hair, a brightly coloured scarf and fire-engine red lipstick. Cyndi told her she looked great and the woman replied “well, on the darkest days, I wear my brightest clothes”. It’s something I still apply to my everyday life. And while I can no longer colour my hair to the extremes of Cyndi Lauper…but there are days, particularly rainy days, when I walk past an art supply store and have to fight the urge to buy a tube of poster paint and a paintbrush. I hope those urges never go away.



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