All photos from iVillage
You guys know that I’m a makeup artist. This means I should be pushing a fully-made up face like it’s my new religion, right? Not necessarily. I wrote a brief-ish post well over a year ago detailing why we (women) wear makeup—why it sometimes benefits us to wear makeup in a world where first impressions are key. When done correctly, using makeup actually enhances rather than detracts from our natural beauty. It’s why the ancient Egyptians and modern Indian women will wear eyeliner but nothing else on their faces. But like most things in this world, very few things are purely good or purely evil. Everything requires balance, and makeup is no different.
This brings me to the point of this post. I’ve grown increasingly tired of seeing tabloid and online magazine features scream: “STARS CAUGHT WITHOUT MAKEUP!!!”, “BARE FACED AND BRAVE: WOMEN WITHOUT MAKEUP!!!”or “STARS FLAUNT THEIR FRESH FACES!!!” These headlines invite us to jeer or cheer at women who—gasp—look like themselves, real. And it’s almost always women. I’d probably die of being pelted with equality rainbows if there was an article about male actors without makeup because they plaster it on too. You’re likely not to find an article like that because magazines won’t make much money from that. Whether online, in film, or in print, our culture enjoys deriding women more than men for their looks. Sadly, women are a huge part of this criticism.
What bothers me are the seemingly innocuous posts calling women brave and beautiful for posting pictures of themselves flaunting their naked faces. I’m bothered, not because of the lack of makeup, but because we live in a culture where choosing not wear makeup has made us so vulnerable that it’s labelled ‘brave’. The best way I can explain myself is to individually critique comments on a set of pictures I found in iVilliage’s recent post, “Celebrities without Makeup”:
What iVillage says: Demi Lovato claims she took this picture just before bed, tweeting, “No makeup! Goodnight. xox” on April 7, but those lips look red to us. If those are really all-natural, we’re jealous!
First, is Demi Lovato even 18 years old yet? I can’t be bothered to look it up, but I know she’s around Miley Cyrus’s age, which is to say young as hell. Her skin looks insanely healthy and luminescent. Since she’s young, so there’s nothing surprising about that. She didn’t need to exclaim the fact that she’s not wearing makeup unless her point is to invite comments reassuring her of her beauty and great genes. Otherwise, what’s the point of posting the photo on Twitter?
Ana Lynn McCord
What iVillage says: AnnaLynne McCord reveals what’s under the makeup, tweeting to followers on May 5, “I woke up this morning and decided I’m over Hollywood’s perfection requirement. To all my girls(and boys) who have ever been embarrassed by their skin! I salute you! I’m not perfect – and that’s okay with me!”
I actually respect what she has to say because she’s right. As someone who suffered from acne for about 15 years, I found the condition of my skin disgusting. I often felt embarrassed for other people who had to look at my imperfect face. I felt very vulnerable, and out-of-control. Every cue I received told me that I needed to be fixed, and if I couldn’t be fixed, then I should be covered. It took me a long while to become more comfortable with all the ups and downs my skin and body goes through.
What iVillage says: Nicole Richie and her trainer proudly display their matching outfits — and matching clean faces! Richie twittered, “PHOTO: It’s “accidentally wear the same outfit as your trainer” day @gotracey!!” on March 8.
Duh, of course they have clean faces when they are working out. The whole point of working out is to raise your heart rate, the by-products of which are red, sweaty faces. Why would you want that mingling with makeup on your face?
What iVillage says: Instead of letting the paparazzi catch her on an off-day, Demi Moore takes matters into her own hands. She tweeted, “Rather post my own bad pic then let them have it! Hahaha So here is my no make up self portrait!” on Aug. 28, 2009.
‘Off-day’? Does that mean being seen in public without makeup? I want to call Demi More a little sad for posting a blurry picture of herself looking ‘bad’ before the paps do, but I can’t. Women over 40 in Hollywood (and everywhere else) are constantly told that their stock is not worth as much because they’re getting older. They’re told that their beauty is fading. It’s no wonder some of these women run to get surgery or get closer to youth by copping young boyfriends. I’m not intrinsically against either of those things, except when they are used to legitimize our continued existence and value in society.
What iVillage says: Lisa Rinna acts as a role model for her daughters, sharing a picture of herself makeup-free to prove that she goes out in public without it. On December 30, 2010, she tweeted a photo of herself with daughters Amelia Gray, 10, and Delilah Belle, 13, saying, “Hey at least I’m brave enough to show myself without make up!! Here I am no make up not an ounce!”
I find statements by iVillage and Lisa Rinna problematic. Lisa Rinna is not being a role model to her daughters by not wearing makeup. I’m sure they see her without makeup way more than they see her with makeup since they live in a house with her. Secondly, her daughters are hella young. They shouldn’t even feel the urge the pepper their preciously delicate skin with makeup. Lastly, I find it sad that Lisa Rinna—a woman whose face has been surgered beyond original recognition—is claiming bravery for not wearing makeup. I know it’s complicated because of reasons I just stated for Demi Moore, but…sigh.
Holy Crap Their Natural Beauty is Breathtaking
I so enjoyed looking at all of these women in their makeup-free state. I don’t consider any of them brave, but I do consider them all beautiful because of their talent and integrity.
I’ve shown you very different women of various ages and ethnicities doing the same thing: showing their naked faces. None of them should be thought of as ‘brave’ for so. ‘Bravery’ is a term reserved for unusual, extraordinary or heroic behaviour. Do we really want to assign such a term to women for just being themselves? If we do so, we are praising artifice as normal. To me, that’s dangerous.
Is this the makeup-free topic a bit meh to you, or do you have feelings? I want to know about it. Leave your comments below!