Clowns can be glam. At least that’s the goal of Texas Manning (@clown_glam), a 21-year-old student at MassArt who wears clown-inspired makeup every day and uses pronouns they/them. Manning’s makeup looks have evolved over time, from their freshman year of college when they felt “afraid to take up space” to now, where they are creating lavish “spooky looks” every single day in October. The Globe had a conversation with Manning over the phone to find out what self-expression means to them.
Q. How did you get into doing this type of makeup?
A. I started getting into makeup in general in mid-high school. The clown thing really originated freshman year of college. One day, I just did it and fell in love with how it felt to be a clown and express myself with makeup in that way. I really just started throwing myself into it every day.
I struggle with disassociation. So, it helps sometimes when I don’t recognize myself in the mirror. I’ll put on the clown makeup and see that and know who that is. It couldn’t be anyone else but me. It helps ground myself.
It’s also just so fun to be so bright. There will be times when I’ll make some little kid’s day or brighten up someone else’s life who didn’t expect to see that. I really like adding an unexpected element to people’s lives just by being myself.
Kids are fascinated by anything that’s different or brightly colored. They will just stare at me. As soon as I smile or stick my tongue out to show them I am not a threat and am something friendly they can look at, they always beam. Either that or they look confused.
Q. What is your relationship with this sort of self-expression?
A. Being a queer and nonbinary person, I don’t feel super comfortable in my body the way it is. Dressing in a way that I can completely make myself my own separate thing, it really helped me come to terms with myself and my body, being able to be as outlandish or make whatever shape out of my body that I want, mold it how I see it. I joke a lot that my gender is clown.
Q. Is there a community of people who also present themselves as clowns?
A. There is a community, but I didn’t know it existed until I started posting my own looks. There are a lot of other people who identify with wearing very bright, obnoxious colors and identify themselves with clown makeup.
Q. What are misunderstandings you think people might have about this type of makeup?
A. I think a lot of people might assume it’s for attention, but, at least in my case, I definitely only do it because it makes me happy and is the fullest expression of myself. It’s not for anyone.
If I’m going to do makeup, I do it with the intention of doing something fun. There are definitely days where I am like everyone else, where I’m tired and don’t want to do makeup. I really enjoy the process of getting myself ready.
Q. Why do you share your looks on social media?
A. I started the account as more of an archive. I would just stick them up with a caption. It wasn’t until over a year ago that I started taking it more seriously. I was in a review for school, and I was talking about how I don’t think I produce a lot of work on the daily. My teachers were like “No, you have a huge body of work through your clown makeup.” That really made me take it more seriously as the art form it is. It’s different every day. It means something different every day.
I started to put more emphasis on getting the account out there because I was told during that review that I shouldn’t be afraid to take up space. I always felt bad because the clown stuff is so obnoxious and so bright. I would always think it was kind of annoying. But then I realized that’s just who I am. I am kind of annoying, so why not just shove it in everyone’s face.
Ysabelle Kempe can be reached at email@example.com.