TikTok is the Shein of trends given how quickly they come and go (and how often these looks are stolen). But, also like fast fashion, these micro-trends often develop problematic elements that we love to ignore. Enter “mob wife” makeup.
Clean girl is out, mob wife is in. That’s what so many beauty bloggers have proclaimed as they dramatically toss their clear lip gloss and pink blush out of frame, instead going for thick black eyeliner, warmer blush tones and brown or red lips.
Out with the old, in with the new.
This is “mob wife” makeup, a new trend that’s meant to emulate the seductive, luxe nature of movie-style Italian mob wives with their fur coats and black, high-heeled boots. It’s part of the wider mob wife aesthetic, which is all about maximalism, opulence and not giving a fuck about whether your eye-liner is smudged because you’re rich and having fun.
The aesthetic is inspired by the likes of Big Ang from Mob Wives, Ginger McKenna in Casino and Adriana La Cerva and Carmela Soprano from The Sopranos.
Ugh, this is such a gorgeous rendition of mob wife makeup. Perfect, no notes, 10/10.
I’ll be honest, often the look just appears to be a classic smokey eye packaged into something a bit more dramatic and exciting for the rest of the app. I’m pretty sure there are photos of my Pakistani mum rocking those brown-lined lips in the 90s, but I digress.
Like “latte girl” and “clean girl” makeup, these trends are (mostly) harmless and give everyone something new to do, a new look to perfect. It’s usually not something I am thinking too much about.
What I can’t help but notice, though, is light-skinned girls using darker foundation or extreme amounts of bronzer to nail the mob wife trend, to the point where they are not 1-2 shades darker — it’s like five shades.
Girl, you are so talented! You can totally pull this trend off without such a dark foundation and bronzer!
One could argue there is nothing wrong with this — aren’t Italians olive-skinned, sometimes even tan, after all? Why can’t we wear lots of bronzer to emulate being kissed by the mediterranean sun as we flaunt our imaginary illegally-acquired wealth? I mean, it’s not like these creators are blackfishing.
Sure, it’s not blackface or brownface, and I wouldn’t even argue that anyone wearing makeup that’s a bit too tan for them is breaking any specific rules, but I do want to say: I really thought we were past changing our skin-tones to emulate other cultures.
Faking a mixed-race look was popular a few years ago, but it does appear to be a trend that’s slowly dying out.
Once again, being pale for this trend is so fine.
My concern with people darkening their skin for makeup trends that are associated with anything vaguely exotic is, are we moving backwards?
You can wear the mob wife makeup trend perfectly without darkening your skin. Most women on the app are nailing it without doing so — a smokey eye and harsh contour are totally enough.
And on the flip side, plenty of dark-skinned beauty vloggers are also taking part in the trend without making their skin appear lighter either, because they understand the mob wife trend isn’t about skin colour but about technique and style.
The mob wife trends fits all skin tones, no changing required.
All this to say, let’s stay away from trying to look more ethnic for random makeup trends. You don’t need to do that to look good or show off your talent.
With the resurgence of 2000s-style skinniness and other toxic beauty standards I really thought we had recovered from, let’s keep this one in the past, okay?