I never really make New Years’ resolutions; what’s the point of starting the New Year with pressure and expectations? I find it distressing enough embarking upon the first few dreary months of the year. But what if you made a resolution that doesn’t take any extra time or effort, makes you feel free, and promotes a healthier idea of female beauty in our personal lives and also in the media?
My resolution was entirely unpremeditated and spontaneous. I stumbled upon Darling Magazine‘s Beauty Revolution almost by accident, and as I read about how the women on the editorial team are starting 2013 make up free to try and change the face of beauty in the media, I was intrigued. The idea behind the campaign is similar, I suppose, to Dove’s Real Beauty campaign from a few years ago. It’s not suggesting, in any way, that make up is bad, or that women should feel bad for wearing it; on the contrary, their attitude is that make up is great and fun. It is only damaging when it gives women unrealistic expectations about what they should look like, and when we feel like we’re not beautiful without it. That’s the thing about the photographs that Adrienne Sandvos took of her friends without makeup – they are in black and white, yes. That’s cheating, you say? Well, not really. The point is to ease into this, to adjust your eyes to the sight of women in the media without elaborate eye make up and perfect lipsticked smiles. They look naked enough, even in black and white, and they look beautiful. The point of all of this is to make natural beauty desirable, after all.
I wanted to join in, somehow, and while I didn’t make a conscious decision not to wear make up throughout 2013, I made a decision to ditch the mascara and eyeliner and go bare faced as a general rule, saving make up for glamming up on special occasions. At first I felt naked. I looked in the mirror and my eyes looked tired. I guess I am pretty tired a lot of the time, and the beautiful thing about this resolution is that it breaks you out of your routine and forces you to actually look after yourself. If you can’t put concealer on the bags under your eyes, you’d better start getting more sleep.
As Tina Fey points out in Bossy Pants (my favourite Christmas present this year!), there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with makeup or even Photoshop. We all want to look and feel good; it’s empowering. But the flesh in photos should be left on, the pores in skin should still be visible, and we need variety more than anything else; variety in size, shape, skin tone, hair colour, you name it. It’s okay to shave our armpits and put mascara on our eyelashes, but we shouldn’t be disgusted by unshaven armpits and natural eyelashes – women shouldn’t have to do these things all the time if they don’t want to. There are ways of portraying beauty that allow it to be admired without making anyone feel insecure, jealous, self obsessed, or objectified. If we lived in a world where women were portrayed in the media as a bunch of interesting, real, beautiful, quirky, and diverse people, the rest of us would be more likely to feel like we are capable of amazing things, beautiful and noticed by others for who we are and what we think. I’d like to live in that kind of world.
Darling’s Beauty Revolution is a gentle reality check. Do you feel ready to try life without makeup? Even if you don’t feel ready to give up makeup altogether, maybe you could try swapping your foundation for some tinted moisturiser, or just cut back on the eye makeup without ditching it all? Try it, even if it’s just for a week – and see if you start to see yourself differently.