If you’re tuned into the online alternative beauty world, posts from @v93oo and her band of underground influencers have definitely graced your Instagram discovery feed. Based in a Swedish suburb called Rikenby as well as the popular capital of Stockholm, account admin Mushtaaq created @v93oo to return to a tender feeling of self-expression she felt when she was younger. Using the account to combat feelings of anxiety, Mushtaaq reposts from a breadth of content creators and undiscovered artists alike, providing much needed exposure to her large audience of 117k followers. Check out @v93oo on Instagram for 90’s runway looks, plus avant garde and unconventional beauty posts by makeup artists and teen beauty enthusiasts alike.
Tell us a little bit about who you are and when and why you started this account?
My name is Mushtaaq, not everyone can pronounce that name, but it’s an Arabic name which means ‘longing.’ I’m 24 years old and a 90s baby. I’m born and raised in Sweden, and grew up in a small suburb called Rikenby. I also have roots in Somalia. I started this account while battling with depression and being burnt out from a job I used to have, and I developed anxiety from it. To be honest I’m still not yet recovered from that. But I mean, it’s just crazy how you could come up with ideas while suffering, so I started to collect looks in my photo album on my phone to look at while stressed and I became so much calmer. My memory in my phone was full, and I needed it to save my looks somewhere else, so I opened the Instagram account @v93oo. I got so sick of the fleeky makeup, I wanted to revisit the time I was introduced to makeup. That feeling I had when stealing makeup from my mom and applying it everywhere, that exact feeling is what I got with this makeup account – the feeling of no rules.
Who where your beauty icons when you were younger?
Iman & Waris.
Have those changed or remained the same compared to now? Who (or what) is a current inspiration?
My mother used to talk highly of Iman and how she came from the same background and she was like an icon for us Somalis and Waris of course. Another inspiration is Frank Ocean; I can’t really point at where exactly his inspiration comes from, I just know that his music was life changing for sure. Grace Jones’ boldness inspires me for sure too. I love makeup artists like Pablo Manzoni, Way Bandy, Kevyn Aucoin, Francois Nars, Pat McGrath, Stephan Marais, Val Garland…I’m like very drawn to make up that breaks the beauty rules.
What is your Instagram curation process like?
At first I used Google, Instagram, and Tumblr to save looks I liked onto my phone. Now I just search for looks through Instagram, and use suggestions I get via DM. I'm so thankful for the people who send in looks and tag me in them.
How do you view representation on your account? What role or responsibility do you that you have in managing representations of beauty?
First, I look at the makeup and then I look at diversity. Everyone should and will forever be included on @v93oo.
Do you consider yourself as a part of a beauty “community?” Why or why not? Tell us about this.
For me when I started this account and gained more and more followers, I was wondering, like, how? It was like I discovered another world. I was amazed by makeup so artistic and with so many colors, and I knew there were people who would appreciate these looks as much as I did. We live in a world where beauty gurus take over the beauty community with their perfectionism. I believed this could be a community that would break barriers.
Do you identify with the label “alternative” beauty that has been used to describe certain makeup genres/communities?
Yes, I mean there is a beauty standard. This is like the main reason why I started this account. I wanted to make something that made people feel more comfortable to experiment with makeup more. There is a beauty standard in the beauty community and that is what I want to tackle. The perfect brow, the perfect skin, the fleeky stuff…it got me thinking of how we are overly into the perfection.
How do you see that in comparison to what would be considered the “mainstream” beauty industry?
The usual beauty industry is clean and almost tasteless. Of course, there have always been those who were adventurous with makeup, but that was not usual. There was always focus on neutral colors, but if you go a little further than what people consider adventurous, it's too much.
Would you consider it a good or a bad thing when someone tries to mimic your looks or copy your posts? What effect does that bring upon the uniqueness and subjectivity of beauty?
It’s beautiful that people are inspired, that's the purpose of @v93oo. I want to normalize the colorful, playful makeup. It's only a positive effect on my part.
What is beauty to you?
Beauty is being yourself, beauty is doing good, and beauty is helping others.
Special thanks to Mushtaaq/@v93oo. Interview has been edited and condensed for publication.