As soon as I read Jodie's post over at Mummy Mayhem, I knew I had to take up the challenge!
If you haven't read it (though you really should) she talks about what sort of message are we sending when we refuse to be seen without makeup? Is it simpy pride in your appearance, or an inability to accept our true selves and love ourselves for us, just as we are?
She also talks about the fad of magazines printing "Stars Without Their Makeup" specials. These have always interested me, like it's some sort of amazing, ultra-unusual thing for a woman, no matter how famous, to be seen without makeup. The stories are always pitched in a gasp-in-shock sort of style, like we shouldn't think it's normal to wear only your skin on your face.
Sure, sometimes it's nice to be reminded that only rarely do those women who you often compare yourself to (and find yourself lacking) actually look like that, and usually it's not just makeup, but a whole lot of airbrushing that gets them to that state, but it still rankles me that they are presented in such a voyueristic fashion, like we should be shocked and titilated to see such a thing.
Which is why Kate Walsh is my new hero. She recently attended a movie premier, red carpet appearance and all, with no makeup on! She twittered beforehand that she simply hadn't had time to get all made up, so went without. I think she looked gorgeous, she obviously has beautiful skin, and I would kill for her jawline.
There's been some discussion that she appears to have some under-eye concealer on, and she is no doubt a Botox devotee, so she's not really au naturel, but I think for a Hollywood actress to go to an actual red carpet event with anything less than full war-paint is a spectacular statement about beauty, and self-confidence. Good on her.
I'm not saying makeup is a bad thing, I certainly wear it to special events, and usually even to work. It's funny that I referred to it by the colloqiualism war-paint just then, because I tend to use makeup for exactly that; it can be my armour. If I know I am going to be facing a situation that makes me nervous, or where I will be the focus of attention for any reason, I will wear a lot of makeup, with strong, bold colours to give me a sense of strength and boldness.
Why I feel like a few layers of foundation and mascara will make me smarter, quicker, more patient and eloquent is beyond me, though maybe not to anyone who has studied the effects of a looks based society on a teenage girl with self-image issues.
And here is the crux of the matter.
A few months ago, as I was getting ready for work, my own little Gorgeous Gal was sitting on the bed, watching me put my makeup on.
"Mummy, why you put on your makeup?"
"Uhh..." I had one of those moments we have as parents where several answers immediately come to mind, but you automatically censor them as you see how the conversation would continue. The obvious answer that came to me was, "To make me look pretty", but then I could almost hear her wonder to herself if she wasn't wearing makeup, did that mean she wasn't pretty?
Or I could've answered, "Because I don't like how my cheeks are always red, and I want to cover it up", and watched her little face cloud over as she remembers all the times I have delighted in the very same rosy tint to her cheeks and wonders if I really loved it after all.
I really had no good answer. Why did I wear this stuff?
In the end I stammered out an answer about it meaning I was taking going to work seriously (I know, WTF right??) and changed the subject.
And this is when she's three! What's going to happen as she gets older, starts examining her own self-image. What's going to happen when she inevitably starts comparing herself to her school friends and whoever the latest tween poppet is? What's going to happen when she starts reading Dolly magazine for Christ's sake? How can I tell my daughter that she is more than beautiful, just as she is?
How can I help her love herself just as she is, when I can't do it myself?
The issue of how I can teach her she is more than just how she looks is another issue entirely, but something I am working on. Yes, already. I want to get to her before the damn media does.
Since becoming a Mum, there have been more and more days where I simply haven't had the time or inclination to put on a full face of makeup, or even a swipe of lip gloss come to that. I would initially feel like I had come down to the shops naked. I felt insecure and frumpy. Suprisingly, nobody reeled in horror, or went shrieking down the aisles. Not once was I mistaken for the Swamp Thing.
Now, more often than not, I am bare-faced. My husband actually thinks I look younger when I don't wear any makeup. I am finally comfortable in myself. Well, from the neck up anyway, I'm still not happy in my body, I want it to be healthier and yes, slimmer than it is, but I still love it for what it can do. I have made peace with the ever-present dark circles under my eyes (I've always had them, they're not a tiredness or toxin thing), the blemishes I hardly ever got as a teenager but who are making up for it now, and my good Celtic skin that flushes beet-red at the slightest hint of exertion or emotion.
I'm hoping that through my example (and tireless brainwashing) GG will realise that you don't need a layer of makeup to face the world, and certainly not some beauty product with it's ridiculous pseudo-scientific and completely bogus claims to be beautiful. You just need to be healthy, confident that you are more than your looks, happy with who you are as a person, and your inner beauty will shine through. Of course, it doesn't hurt that GG is, in fact gorgeous.
So, after all my blah, blah, blahing: here it is, my example to my daughter... me in my natural state, no makeup, no hairstyling (and also no top of my head - sorry about that, taking your own photo is hard!)
You know, I could sit here and point out all the faults and flaws I think I see, but actually, I think I look fine.