Why I’m not going “makeup free” on Facebook

Let me start by saying that when anyone looks at themselves in the mirror and is happy with what they see, that is a beautiful thing. And when a woman chooses not to wear makeup because she’s happy with her face the way it is, that’s great too.

But what is this whole “no makeup nomination” business really about? Is it about feeling comfortable and happy in our own skin? Or is it yet another way to base our self-worth on our appearances?

I don’t have perfect skin. I am 26 years old and I still break out all the time. I deal with rosacea and dry patches and puffy skin and, on especially bad days, an atrocious double chin. Now let me make myself very clear: I am not fishing for your sympathy, empathy, your pity compliments, honest compliments, or your feedback. I am extremely happy with my face, faults and all. At my 26 years I have learned to appreciate it for exactly what it is and when it doesn’t make me happy I let it go.

But letting it go isn’t something I’ve always been able to do. I’ve struggled for years over body image issues. This isn’t some huge confession. I’m no different from any other young woman. My friends and I speak about these things nearly every day. I see these issues in every woman I know. I see it when they try on clothes; I see it when they do their hair and makeup; I see it when they choose their meals.

They (we) are all beautiful, healthy women, yet we spend so time obsessing over our looks. Forgive me if I don’t think a makeup free selfie is going to fix that. 

Because what about the woman who doesn’t feel comfortable taking a no makeup selfie? What about the woman who is nominated and, like EVERY celebrity “makeup free” photo, touches up a little bit here or there, covers a spot or two, puts on some shimmering moisturizer and then snaps a pic? What about the surely tens of thousands of teenagers who are experiencing this trend all over their social media who don’t feel comfortable with themselves and are inundated with beautiful young women, somehow blessed with clear skin, who don’t know how to respond to their nomination because they aren’t confident enough or don’t feel beautiful enough to show their naked face to the world?

And for the women who do, do we really need to pat ourselves on the back and give ourselves a hearty congratulations for having the bravery, the audacity to post a picture online sans makeup?

Apparently this trend has raised 2 million pounds for UK Cancer Research. Well, that’s fucking fantastic. But I only learned that today. Most of the pictures I’ve seen haven’t mentioned anything about that. And while I would never want to condemn something that is raising money for a good cause, what on earth is the correlation between not wearing makeup and raising money for cancer research? Oh, and did you donate?

I hesitate to even post this as some of the selfies in my newsfeed were posted by some of the loveliest people I know. They radiate inner beauty and that’s why I’m so blessed to call them my friends. (But they’re also really pretty. Like, really naturally pretty.)

So why must we continue to base our self-worth on our looks? Where are the nominations to spread happiness? Do good? Plant flowers? Buy a stranger coffee? Tell someone you love them?

I’m aware this is a silly battle to fight. It’s relatively well-intentioned and at the end of the day, it’s raising money for good. But I’m also trying to be aware of what this means for us as women, as a society. Let’s work on being happy and comfortable with ourselves for exactly who we are — NOT what we look like.

In lieu of posting a makeup free photo I’m going to donate $10 to cancer research. Then I’m going to step in front of the mirror, cover up that ugly zit right under my nose, and head out into the world. I nominate you to do whatever the fuck you feel like doing, but doing it with kindness and the intention to improve others’ lives through your actions.

To donate to the BC Cancer Foundation click here.

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