I’ve been meaning to write about this subject for quite a long time but I wasn’t quite sure how to approach it. Since this philanthropic ‘No Make-Up selfie’ craze has taken over all social networking sites, I thought it would be a good time.
I’ve worn make-up since I was 11. I never touched any beforehand but I suppose as soon as I started secondary school, there was an unspoken pressure of trying to fit in whilst simultaneously embarking on a pre-pubescent uphill struggle. Every day I wore foundation, concealer, mascara, eyeliner, and lip gloss to make sure that I looked ‘acceptable’ to go to school. But it didn’t just stop there. Once when I was about 13, my mum asked me to go round the corner shop to get some milk. I obliged, but before I went I had to apply a full face of make-up. By the time I’d finished my make-up, the corner shop had closed, and so my mum and I ended up having a huge argument over something that, in the great scheme of things, was incredibly pathetic.
By the time I was about 15, I’d started to give up caring. One day, I went into my GCSE science lesson without any make-up on at all. Not one tiny bit. Completely bare-faced, teenage spots and all, and do you know what the first thing someone said to me was?
“Eurgh, Emma! You look disgusting! Are you ill? PLEASE don’t sit next to me looking like that.”
Sob story over. As you can imagine, the effect of a teenage boy saying those words to an insecure teenage girl was pretty great.
Since then I couldn’t bear the thought of anyone seeing me without make-up: best friends, boyfriends, even my family. It was only when I got to university that I realised that it was beginning to get ridiculous. I made friends that didn’t care how I looked, they liked me because of who I was and not because I had long eyelashes and glossy lips. Now don’t get me wrong, I love wearing make-up. I love the routine of putting it on, and the confidence it gives me daily, but I am beginning to realise that it’s not an essential feature of who I am. Only in the last year have I been able to leave my house with a completely natural, bare face, and that’s the first time I’ve done that since I was about 12. I’m now 22. It makes me sad to think that young women and girls feel frightened to expose their natural face for fear of what people might say and think.
So, despite all the criticism it’s had, I am so happy that the ‘No Make-Up Selfie’ campaign has encouraged women and girls to strip their faces free from all make-up and reveal their true identity, complete with spots, blemishes, funny moles, EVERYTHING. I think it’s empowering, and although I think that every girl is probably frightened uploading a picture of their naked face, they’re probably quite relieved too.