The Death of Natural Beauty

by TheGreyPotter

First published

Fluer de Lis' is a top Equestrian model and her star is falling.

Modeling in Equestria was becoming more about Fluttertypes, more normal and down to earth ponies with endearing inexperience. Fleur de Lis, a traditional model, senses an ill wind, and tries to cope with it in her own way.

The Death of Natural Beauty

View Online

The Death of Natural Beauty
By The Grey Potter
Cosmic Pony Fanfiction
(This is a pretty old story of mine, so take that what you will.)

It was my last outfit change of the show. Music, so booming on the stage, was piped into my corner of the dressing room. Four ponies, all plain mares with tangled manes, yammered around me. Face left, turn right, lift your hoof, bow your head, little commands to mindlessly follow. A gown slipped around me, this one with a large train. I supposed I would have to alter my step when I walked the runway.

That is when Natural Beauty decided to approach me. She was not in her couture, but street labels.

“Beauty, are you done already?” I asked, not bothering to make my voice sing for her. “Another shoot, dearest?”

“No,” she said simply.

“Then are you skipping out, dearest? Why ever are you leaving so early?”

Beauty did not respond. Instead, she began to sift through her saddlebags, ugly things. Certainly they match her creamy coat, but such large sacks thrown across the body of someone so regal… Well, I use a satchel for private things. Let the common pony cart around whatever else I fancy.

“They only wanted me for one dress here, Fleur de Lis.”

“Really? Why, that is quite strange.”

“It’s not, Fleur, it really isn’t. Have you seen a magazine lately?”

“Why look at them? That would be so horribly self-indulgent!” I laughed my prettiest little laugh for her. She didn’t join me. Instead, she drew something out of her saddlebags. What she was looking for, I presumed. It was a white card with a black curling border, framing equally curly script.

“What ever is this, Beauty?” I regally offered the card a cursory glance, “A shoot? Oh, but I’ve never heard of this designer, this… Lacey Twist. Is she foreign?”

Beauty set the card on the dressing stand, “No, Fleur, she’s new. A breakout from Bittsburgh.”

“Why, there’s no fashion school there? Does she hail from another location? Who discovered her?”

“No one did, and she’s self taught, an apprentice at a dressmakers.”

I stared at the card, drawing my head back in polite disgust. “Natural Beauty, why on earth are you wasting your time with this nobody?”

“Fleur, neither you nor I were featured in the last issue of Equestria Fashion. Or Hottest Trotters, or even Dresses Weekly. Do you know why, Fleur?”

“I would not know. Special issue?”

“Yeah, special alright. Each and every one was devoted to a full spread of that new model, Fluttershy.”

I laughed at her. She needed it. How silly it was, worrying her little head over an up and comer! “The common ponies are just getting worked up over some new, it’s nothing to be startled by!”

“I was only asked to model one dress here, Fleur. Graceful Hearts modeled more dresses than me.”

“Pah! Her? But she’s size two! Her strut is faltering and unladylike!”

“Fleur, listen to me. There’s a new wave coming, something I don’t like the looks of. I’ve got to find some way to break out, to revitalized my image.”

“But Natural Beauty…” I looked to the card again, “To rely on a newcomer nobody? This is suicide.”

“Yes. Suicide or Salvation. I… I don’t know what else to do.” She took a shaky breath, but by the time I offered her another glance, her face was cold once more. I stared at her sideways. Losing her cool over something so ridiculous… That was just unprofessional. “Will you come to my funeral, Fleur?” she asked of me. I did not get a chance to respond.

My adjustments were done. The frazzled crew backed away from me, and the stage manager was trying to wave me down. I left Natural Beauty without another word.

A drama queen, that mare. Her star, and furthermore, my star, were both burning bright. We were the epitome of beauty, the goddesses of the catwalk. Come next week, she would be right back beside me, modeling only the best works of couture Equestria had to offer.

But as a coworker, I suppose I had to go and see what silly little dressmaker Natural Beauty was throwing herself to. She was digging her own grave, and I could, at the very least, offer her the courtesy of watching. When the show ended, I tucked the card away into my satchel.

~ɣ~

There was barely even a crowd at the shoot, a few diehard fans of Natural Beauty. Honestly, this was not a surprise. This designer, whoever she was, probably did not have many fans herself. The shoot was operating out of the tackiest little dress shop I had ever laid eyes on. It seemed to be devoted to one style, a very old and specific kind of couture. French Gothic, I believe.

I watched as Natural Beauty stood on the small stage, tall and proud as a mare of fashion, and completely humiliated herself.

This dressmaker, Lacey Whatever, was certainly skilled, if you can call being able to stitch ‘skilled.’ But there was only so much she could be with her limited training. The nobody’s style and focus was so pitifully narrow. She put Natural Beauty in a series of dresses whose only difference was the number of ruffs. Each dress was all the same color, the same shape, the same bland emptiness of a dud designer.

But nothing was so pathetic as Natural Beauty herself. She threw herself into poses that didn’t suit her at all. Poses that were over the top, or just plain ridiculous. And her makeup was atrocious, white and black smears that made a mess of her beautiful face. Lacey was a foal to not notice these issues, to actually be excited about it. Natural Beauty was elegant, a goddess among ponies. This shoot was corrupting her, hiding her beauty and debasing her form.

No one in Canterlot would ever go after a filly so lacking in skill. No one would think that Natural Beauty was rejuvenating her image. They’d take one look at these photos and know she was getting desperate. It looked like she was selling out for any job, to just eat.

I don’t even think half the crowd stayed the entire time. I didn’t blame them. They didn’t want to watch Natural Beauty fall from grace and die. I left as well.

I never did speak with Natural Beauty again.

~ɣ~

Another day, another show, long after the catastrophe in Bittsburgh. The show was for a label this time, casual wear for Equestrian Elite. Almost as good as couture, only a single step down. Getting into a couture show was becoming most difficult, for all modeling mares. But that didn’t really matter right now.

No, what did matter was the mare standing in front of me, the forerunner and first to be on the catwalk. The first impression the audience would have. I had never seen her before. She was a gray Pegasus that shifted from one hoof to the other, glancing around, making small sounds at the slightest change. It was rather silly, and I wondered what foalish manager thought that she could manage the stress of frontrunner. I mean, I’ve done these shows thousands of times. I am well known and respected! Why wasn’t I the lead?

I giggled at the Pegasus’ antics. “Deary, whatever is the matter?” Best to be polite, even to an amateur.

“I’ve never done this before,” she replied, voice deep and slow. Even her voice was disgustingly unladylike! “What am I supposed to do? What’s going on?” A better question would be where in Equestria did they find this wretch?

“Just canter down the catwalk, sweetie. It’s not that hard.”

“Yeah, but,” she looked around once more as the lights dimmed, “Isn’t there some sort of walk I should use? A certain way I should look? Nobody’s told me anything!”

“There’s simply no use in worrying now. Do your best!”

She whimpered again, head rotating to and fro. I hadn’t worked at a label show in years, had standards really fallen this far, so that a little whiner like her could get in? How did the little thing work her way here at all?

The stage manager waved her cue. Startled, she jumped forward, hopped a few steps, gliding on her wings. The edge of her hoof caught on the curtains, making the mare trip and fall on her face. She shook her head as she stumbled to her feet and began actually walking, nearly tripping a second time on her sleeves. What a pathetic display! I suspected that her career was over on the spot.

The stage manager didn’t even blink. There was not one cry of disapproval from the crowd. In fact, from the sound of it, they loved her.

That Pegasus, whoever she was, modeled five outfits that day. I, a long-term professional and veritable goddess of the stage, was only allowed to model three.

~ɣ~

Fluttertype, that’s what they called these new ponies. Ponies with no experience in modeling. Sometimes, not even a desire to model. It was their immaturity that crowds found cute, their klutzy style and heavyset bodies. A few shows and shoots later, this type comprised almost half of the ponies on stage. Some suspected that they only kept the old, thin, and beautiful type around to make the Fluttertypes seem even more amateur. The nerve!

“With their personalities, how do they find shoots? How are they able to break into this business?”

I was in pre-show makeup, crammed in a shared dressing room with a few other ‘old guard.’ I detested the term. Comparing my beauty to these more common ponies was demeaning.

“I heard they’re owned by their companies and photographers. Photo Finish herself pushes a dozen of these things to shoots and shows.”

“Don’t they have a will of their own?”

“Disgraceful. A pox on modeling’s face.”

“There have always been exclusive contracts and corporate pawns. That isn’t new.” I quipped,. These common models were clearly missing the point, the biggest threat was not the personality of the Fluttertypes.“What’s worse is that these Fluttertypes are destroying traditional beauty.” My statement was met by silence, and probably blank stares if we were allowed to move our heads. I tried to explain, “Have you noticed? Most Fluttertypes are heavier set, like the common ponies. Modeling has always been about the ideal, the perfect pony form. We are trying to imitate our goddesses, the princesses. They are completely unlike Celestia and Luna at all.”

Silence fell over the ponies once more. All to be heard was the muttering of makeup artists.

“Yes… the Fluttertypes do seem to be a bit bigger than us,” one model said at last.

“I guess I’ll just have to gain weight.”

I snorted my disapproval, expecting more of my comrades to follow.

“Uhg, fat always goes right to my hiney, it’ll completely mess up my figure.”

“I’m sure they’ll still need a few skinny models… But I’m going to have to completely redo my strut, it isn’t ‘in’ anymore.”

What was this mockery, they were jealous of those klutzy foals? Trying to find a way to imitate these Fluttertypes? The old guard had failed me. No, disgusted and betrayed their own ideals. All of them, the entire system had betrayed me.

The runway was sacred, a holy ground, with models as the priestesses. The form of Celestia and Luna was not one easily obtained, but that was the point. Their beauty was majestic and rare, a special thing to be worshiped and praised. If regular ponies were to become the new ideal, the new body of worship, would we someday look at our own rulers and declare them ugly? Declare the face of the gods themselves to be a mutant monstrosity?

I would not let such a thing come to pass.

But what could I do to remind them? Remind everyone of the importance of the true perfect figure? They no longer saw my body as a temple, as perfect. Trying my hardest on the runway was not going to drag them back, especially when surrounded by all the fat and ugly fluff. What in Equestria could I do?

~ɣ~

I had found a shoot. A nobody from Manehatten wanting to advertise their new line. Gods Among Ponies, he called it. The name practically leaped off the page, demanded my attention. Gods Among Ponies… such a haughty, attention grabbing title. Bold. Arrogant. But I couldn’t look away from it. I had to see for myself if he truly understood, if he knew that the Fluttertypes were a detestable fad. If he knew what true beauty was.

Going to his shop was more difficult than I imagined. No, it wasn’t hard to find the location, or even find time in my vacant schedule. But as I stood outside the adequately decorated hole in the wall, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Natural Beauty. She hadn’t passed my mind at all since she left the modeling world. But by going to this the shop, looking at his dresses, was I doing the same thing? Was I throwing myself to an image? Revitalize or die trying?

No, this was not the same thing at all. I walked inside with head held high, glancing around me with subtlety. This Pony, Clinks, had much more variety to his couture. He had true skill, an artistic soul with room to grow. He knew that he was crafting dresses for gods.

And I was to be his god. He accepted my application immediately, apparently a fan of mine.

Well, he certainly had good taste.

Over the next week I riled up all the interest I could. Having access to some of the top of Canterlot’s best certainly helped. A few words to Fancypants, Canterlot Castle’s Event Coordinator, and knowledge of the shoot rocketed around the scene. A new line, a better line for a better figure. Better than a Fluttertype, more than that, grander! A dazzling new artist to usher in the new age of fashion! Everyone knew, and everyone would love it.

For my rebirth, there would be an honest-to-goodness crowd. I would not allow for anything less.

“I, I didn’t think I’d get this big of a turnout! Wow!” Clinks stammered in amazement, flabbergasted. His shop was stuffed with ponies, important ponies. Many more hovered outside the windows, trying to peer in, to see me, to see the dawn of a new age of fashion.

“That is the effect of hiring a top of the line, model, dear Clinks.”

“Wow… wow.” He lifted his glasses and rubbed his eyes, looking again at the crowd. “Is this really happening? Am I dreaming?”

“You’re not. Now, dearest!” I spun and turned to the dressing room, “Make me into a god!”

“Yes ma’am!”

~ɣ~

I posed. I threw myself into my work, more than I ever had before. Clinks was no expert photographer, but I was the one leading the show. I picked out the best dresses, the most regal poses. A model such as myself would not let Celestia or Luna down! I would show all ponies that this was beauty. Not some little squeaky nobody. My form, the god’s form, was the template of truth.

A gauzy dress in the colors of Celestia’s mane, thin enough to billow with every step. A dark blue dress made of the same material, glittering like night. Jewelry inspired by our rulers, complimenting more traditional gowns. The royal cutie marks as decorations, as clasps and fasteners, as mane decs. Dress as bright and golden as the sun. Couture as silvery and cool as the moon.

I was their priestess, declaring the gospel in each bend of the knee, in each flick of my mane. This was the word of Gods!

By the time the shoot was over, only a few ponies mingled, more interested in the floor or other dresses than they were in my shoot. Only Fancypants still watched, smiling and politely tapping his hooves in light applause. I could think only one thing as I stared at the empty room.

Fleur de Lis has died.