Lipstick, glitter and pink, pink, pink: selfies rule at beauty festival

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On a stage carpeted in hot pink, two young women race to apply lipstick while balancing on wobble boards. With seconds left on the clock, they make their way to a camera in the wings and pose for photos that are displayed on a large screen to the gathering crowd. The game is So You Think You Can Glam, and precision under pressure is the criterion though which, with shouts and applause, one of the women will be crowned the champion.

Around the rest of the country, the Australian public is deciding on their new government. But inside the old railway workshops in Sydney’s Eveleigh, the key issue for appraisal is makeup.

It’s been nearly 45 years since Susan Sontag wrote: “To preen, for a woman, can never just be a pleasure. It is also a duty.” At Meccaland, that duality explodes from a glitter cannon. A “beauty festival” and an extravagant branding exercise by Melbourne-based cosmetics retailer Mecca Brands, the event is part bolstered shopping experience and part consumer conference, with service staff and Instagram-ready backdrops at every eye-popping turn.

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