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Faceless celebrity maintains ownership of her body

  • 10 April 2015

Since 2013, Australian singer-songwriter and director Sia has not shown her face in magazines, videos or performances. When attending events she shows up as an 'inanimate blonde bob' – using a wig to conceal all but a few features – and in live performances she artfully directs the talents of others to front her music.

Her reasons for hiding her face make sense to me, yet she has copped plenty of criticism. To not flash an appropriately beautified face along with her voice has been treated almost like a betrayal of the female celebrity contract. The backlash starts along the lines of 'Is it because she is ugly? What is she hiding under there?' And gets nastier from there. Her response? It should be about the music and the work – not the face.

'Music is for the ears, not the eyes, right?' is how she recently put it to actor and comedian Kristen Wiig in a piece for Interview magazine. 'I love that the work that has gone into it has been behind the scenes. People say, 'Enough of this shit where she doesn't show her face,' and 'It's a gimmick.' For sure. I'm trying to do this differently, for serenity. I want you to be entertained … I'd just rather it not centre around whether or not I have cellulite.' Her experiment draws a clear boundary between herself and her role as a female entertainer, one where popularity rests on the obsessive public scrutiny of appearance.

There's no doubt Sia possesses the raw talent for success. Her voice is phenomenal; her smash hit Chandelier - about her struggle with alcoholism - was nominated for four Grammy awards this year. She also composes songs for the likes of Beyonce and Rihanna and directs her own music videos. Yet audiences remain bitterly hungry for the glamorous image they think they're owed - and sadly, this comes as no surprise.

Generally it's regarded as incomprehensible if, as a woman, you don't bolster and promote your looks to enhance your success. This is not just the case in the entertainment business.

At times in my life where I have chosen to shift my focus away from outward beauty, I've had some a range of unsolicited comments. A close male relative once told me, 'A little bit of make-up doesn't hurt, you know. There's no need to be extreme and wear none at all. You're attractive and