January 29, 2006

Mariah Carey, The Mirror Has Two Faces

While having an official photo taken, the photographer asked, "Which is you best side?" Not being in a position of public scrutiny, I didn't have an answer, so I let the flash bulbs pop freely. But it did make me think of several famous one-sided ladies.
Claudette Colbert's insistence of hiding the right side of her face is legendary. Penny Stalling's detailed it best in her book Flesh and Fantasy:
"She took the studio makeup analysts at their word when they advised her that she should be photographed only from the left, that being her good side. She was known to demand that entire sets be rebuilt if the position of a doorway called for her to enter with her right side exposed to the camera. She even covered the right side of her face with green greasepaint so her cameraman would remember her best angles."

Miss Colbert's historic neurosis makes it difficult for me to fully concentrate on the finer details of her movies; stealing glimpses of her right side is the main priority.


Several years ago, I noticed that all of Jaclyn Smith's K-Mart photos featured only the left side of her face. A quick glance through her official website confirms the Hiding Right observation. She's always been a classically beautiful woman with nothing to hide, and the work done to her face over the years has been a tasteful and worthy investment. But she obviously feels something is awry with the right side of her face, and has made sure we never find the flaw.

The odd thing is, we would probably never notice celebrities self-perceived flaws if they left well enough alone. We understand that all humans (except Christy Turlington) are born asymmetrical, and even a face like a Picasso painting isn't necessarily a detriment to a show business career. No celebrity will publicly admit that they're trying to disguise a flaw, but for some, it becomes achingly obvious, like in the case of Barbra Streisand.

While she was once exceedingly proud of both sides of her distinct profile, Babs has been Hiding Right since the late 1980s, and in the 21st Century her obsession has become embarrassingly apparent.

Along with staging all her movies and concerts to showcase only her left side, she made both Rosie O'Donnell and Oprah Winfrey rearrange their sets for her appearances on their respective talk shows. Of course, Rosie made all kinds of excuses to try and cover for the drastic set overhaul, and of course, her set went right back to its original configuration after Miss Streisand's visit. Oprah was smart enough to just let it happen without saying a word, because Babs said enough kooky things during the interview to prove what a lunatic she is.


It's certainly Streisand's prerogative to present herself as she sees fit, and there's no harm when it's in her power to control the presentation. But when her obsession demands - and gets - extensive and disruptive changes, then people like Rosie and Oprah are control freak enablers, further contributing to Bab's warped sense of self, feeding the megalomanic monster. Sure, the union set builders earn time and half, but what this woman really needs is a good therapist.

And what does Streisand do when she can't control all the angles?

She makes a spectacle of herself. Even though the photographers at the Meet The Fockers premier were shooting her left side, she awkwardly held up her coat collar to hide her neck, chin and jaw line. She walked the entire red carpet in this ridiculous manner, and a burqa would have drawn less attention. Hopefully, a psychiatrist at the after-party slipped her his business card and a Xanax prescription.

Babs and Mariah Carey should record a duet just so the filming of the video would be a copacetic womb of tranquility for the both of them. There'd be no shrill arguments over angles and positions, for Babs Hides Right, while Mariah Hides Left.

Most celebrities form an aversion to their right side, but Miss Carey is not most celebrities. She is the only Left Hider in show business. Even the most casual observation of 15+ years of publicity photos and public appearances proves that the right side is the only side she likes. Which works out well, since most hosts and emcees traditionally work from the left side. Jockeying for favorable position is the only item missing from her list of outrageous Diva Demands.

She's been known to approve a few full frontal shots, but even those are obviously Photosopped (above, left), or cleverly posed so as not to reveal her reviled left side. Her penchant for Hiding Left has so disproportionately annoyed me for so many years that I've been forced to comb through yards of photos in search of photos of her left side. This is a sick pursuit, yes, but so important for maintaining my mental health. I had to do this just to get it out of my system, and move on.
The scant few photos of her left side are courtesy of paparazzi photographers who were able to capture it before she turned away.
And I wonder what she thinks is so wrong with her left side. As shown by all these covert Left Shots I've posted, everything looks OK. If she'd mix it up a bit, I'd have never noticed a problem with her features.

But since she's been so consistent about this issue, I now notice what she dislikes. Her left eye is a little smaller; the left nostril a slightly different shape than the right one, but it's truly no big deal. She's hardly disfigured. Yet, I have to assume she doesn't view it that way.

I'd long been worried that she was needlessly mountain-and-mole-hilling, when I noticed a breakthrough. During her public breakdown in 2001, her right side was more visible, even making an official (albeit far-distance) appearance in an official PR shot (above, second from left).
By 2002, she was allowing an official close-up of her left side (albeit heavily shadowed, above, left), even looking perfectly comfortable being snapped in public from the left.

It seemed that the mental demons that took her down eventually freed her of self-imposed cosmetic issues. She was finally ready to expose all (body parts and) sides of herself to the world, as if to say, "Love me and my left side, as I am." But what seems a bold showing of Left Love (above, right) is actually a flipped negative; the mole on her left chin is the giveaway.

Then came the gear up to her triumphant 2005 comeback, and she reverted to wholeheartedly Hiding Left. Considering all the work she's had done over the years, why wouldn't she have tackled what she considers to be her problematic left face? It's OK to resemble Pia Zadora (above, right) but not accept your left side? But the mystery that is Mariah shall never be solved, and I now simply accept that Mariah's mirror does not have two faces.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

curiously the left side of just about everyones face is more pleasing to the eye than the right. I guess Ms Carey is an exception, trust her to be different. If you take a full face photo of yourself and use a mirror to reflect the left side, the face it produces is always more symetrical than if you try it with the right. Oooo my head hurts, that's almost science. This isn't the least bit interesting, huh? sorry, I'll go now.

Andy said...

You wouldn't believe the amount of traffic that Turlington link has brought my way! :)

Anonymous said...

Huh? If you use a mirror to reflect either side of your face--or if you simply do it digitally, with an image editor--it makes no difference which side you reflect. It's symmetrical by definition, for crying out crap!

claudette said...

this has always been mystery to me why. i myself have a better 'left side' because my nose isn't even. but i notice her left eye seems smaller because her right eyebrow goes up. i personally like her left side better...bad move mariah.

Patty Kirsche said...

Now it's 2013 and Mariah still faces the camera with her right side. And I had never realized her left eye was smaller until I found out that she wouldn't allow light was thrown at her left side during the shows. Then I got curious and started to look for this "flaw". Well, I think she shouldn't worry about that, but...