“OMG, OMG I’m like so nervous to do this, but I’m going to take a selfie of me WITHOUT MAKE-UP ON,” woman says to friend.
“You are so brave,” says friend.
Woman takes four hundred photos posing with light flares in the background, hair seductively placed over right eye and her hand strategically positioned over her zit. Then she posts her image onto every single social media platform with the hashtag #MakeupFree and awaits comments from friends telling her how beautiful she is and how amazingly courageous she is for not wearing make-up.
Woman thinks to herself how fabulous she is for doing such a terrifying thing for a charity promoting positive body image. Then she rushes to the bathroom to reapply her make-up.
I support the foundation’s work with people experiencing eating disorders. They should get our dollars. I am all too aware of the importance of promoting positive body images and reminding women that real beauty is about feelings and behaviours, not aesthetics. I understand the obsession with looks and the pressure to live up to the shallow definitions of beauty.
What I don’t understand is how a campaign resting on people posting images of themselves without make-up can in anyway, as the website suggests, “empower women to develop and nurture positive body image”? It goes on to state: “By going make-up free we’re showing the world that beauty is more than skin deep”.
Excuse me, how? How does stripping the makeup layer off your skin and then displaying that “naked” skin show the world that beauty is more than skin deep?
If you feel it necessary to introduce yet another fundraising gimmick for your charity then why do one that rests on the one thing you’re trying to fight against? Why do a campaign based solely on what women look like? Why not do one based on what women think? How about empowering women not to give a shit about what they look like.
There are two things at play here – the contradictory nature of the campaign and the continuing focus on judging women for what they look like, with or without make-up.
When I saw the presenters on Sunrise appear on the breakfast show without make-up and when I saw similar campaigns online, I felt anything but uplifted. Once again the focus is being placed firmly on what women look like, not what they have to say.
Personally, I like putting make-up on. I also like myself when I don’t. I couldn’t give a rat’s arse if other women do or do not wear make-up as long as they feel good about themselves.
And then there are the many women out there who can’t wear make-up because of skin conditions, allergic reactions, burns and the like. What message does this send them? Does it somehow state that wearing no make-up is not normal? That it takes a brave, courageous woman to wear no make-up. No, it takes a brave and courageous woman, who is constantly being stared at and commented on, for simply living her life in a world obsessed with image.
I am raising three girls. I am doing my best every day to teach them that it’s fine to care about your looks, if it makes you feel good, but it’s more important to work on building your inner strength, believing in your abilities, fighting for what you want, ignoring stereotypes, being financially independent, doing what you love and the list goes on.
Beauty is more than skin deep, but a campaign based purely on posting photos of yourself instead reinforces that you will be judged on your appearance, with or without make-up.
You are not brave for doing so; you just don’t have any make-up on.
What are your thoughts on the make-up free campaigns?
MORE STORIES BY BIANCA WORDLEY
*Bianca Wordley is an Adelaide-based blogger and writer who is the publisher of bigwords. She has worked for The Advertiser, The Sunday Mail, Independent Weekly, The Times, Australian Associated Press, Adelaide Hills Magazine and read the news for ABC Radio. You can follow her on Twitter: @bigwordsblog.